What does the UK Government’s Autumn Statement mean for people with MS?

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Today, the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt delivered the Autumn Statement setting out the UK Government’s spending plans for the next year.

One of the key announcements from today is the changes to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), which will impact on some people living with MS from 2025.

What was announced?

The Government confirmed that they would press ahead with proposed changes to the WCA, which were consulted on in September and October this year. The WCA is used to decide whether claimants must fulfil different requirements to continue receiving benefits.

Currently, people who are unable to walk 50 metres unaided don't have to look for work. The Government argues that because of the increase in home working, this rule is no longer necessary.

How will this affect people with MS?

MS is a progressive condition which has wide ranging symptoms, including on mobility. Therefore, removing support for those who struggle to get around will make it a lot harder for a person with MS to qualify for the support that they need.

The changes mean that some people will lose out on up to £390 per month.

The changes are due to come into effect in 2025 and will only affect new claimants. We'll be sharing further information on this soon.

What we're saying

Earlier this month, along with over 100 other disability charities, we urged the Government to abandon these ‘alarming’ benefits changes. We’ve also met with the Disability Minister to voice our concerns.

Read more on the Disability Benefits Consortium website

Anastasia Berry, our Policy Manager, says: 

“The Government’s decision to push ahead with this cynical attack on disability benefits will have a devastating impact on those on the lowest incomes. It will deprive people with severe health problems of £390 a month. Pushing more disabled people into poverty in the middle of a cost of living crisis.

“The Government claims a radical shift towards home working since the pandemic can justify removing support for those with mobility issues. But only one in ten jobs advertised this year have offered this option. At the same time, access to health and care support which could keep people in work for longer, including mental health and social care, has become increasingly strained. This approach will have dire consequences for disabled people, including those with MS – a condition which can be debilitating, exhausting and unpredictable, and will only progress over time. The Government can, and must, do better by disabled people by scrapping these damaging changes."

What happens next?

Since the consultation we've been working both in front of and behind the scenes to get the Government to stop their proposed changes to the WCA. We've spoken with the Disability Minister, issued a press statement (covered in the Express) and submitted a detailed consultation response.

We'll be continuing to call on the Government to scrap these changes and supporting people with MS by: 

  • publishing further information about the proposed changes 
  • engaging with parliamentarians 
  • working with other disability organisations 
  • sharing how you can be a part of our campaigning

Read more about financial support

You can get in touch to share your story by emailing [email protected].