A disability benefit cut causing misery for thousands of working people with multiple sclerosis is costing more to implement than it saves, a charity warned today (April 9).
MS Society analysis found that a rule stipulating that people who can walk more than one step over 20 metres are not eligible to receive the highest Personal Independence Payment is needlessly hitting 16,000 sufferers of the condition.
Despite leaving thousands worse off by up to £149 a week, taxpayers still end up paying through the nose for the rule, with MS Society analysis showing that between 2020 and 2023 it will cost £92.7m while only saving £83.3m.
The report found that more than half of the costs will come from £57.4m in lost taxes from people having to give up work due to the loss of facilities such as a specially-adapted cars or because they have to look after a relative with the condition.
Other costs include an £22.3m in extra NHS appointments, 11.4m in new benefits and £1.7m in administration and appeals.
MS society spokeswoman Genevieve Edwards said, “Scrapping this senseless rule would stop this unnecessary waste and help people with MS finally get the support they need.”
The Department of Work and Pensions insisted that some people still qualify for the full benefit even if they can walk more than 20 metres, however head of Unite Community Liane Groves said the rule is “cruel and unnecessary”.
“It makes absolutely no sense to pursue a policy that costs more than it saves. This rule is arbitrary and unfair, benefits no one and needs to scrapped,” said Groves.
“It is another example of the Tories’ blindly following an austerity agenda that is counterproductive and hurts the most vulnerable. If the government has any heart at all it would build a welfare system that seeks to help rather than punish, backed up by an economy that works for everyone instead of just the few.”