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How the Spending Review will affect people with MS

On Wednesday 27 October 2021, Chancellor Rishi Sunak outlined the UK Government’s spending plans for the next three years in the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR). We looked at what this means for people with MS.

NHS workforce

The Chancellor announced an extra £5.9 billion for the NHS in England to tackle the backlog of people waiting for tests, scans and diagnoses. This includes some extra funding to train and recruit more NHS staff. Additional funds will be made available in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

We're worried the Government hasn't done enough to fix the NHS workforce crisis and we're waiting for more details on exactly how this money will be spent. As part of our Neurology Now campaign we're also urging governments to do more to help the neurology workforce.

Social Care

There were no new announcements about social care. The UK Government has already announced plans to reform social care in the coming years. To do this, it will be raising £12 billion per year through a new Health and Social Care Levy. This will be introduced in April 2022, but most of it will go to the NHS in the short term.

We’re concerned that the plans don’t help people struggling to pay for their care today. Long term, it's unclear whether much of the money raised by the Levy will reach social care, without taking much-needed funds back out of the NHS.

More details on the proposed reforms will be announced in the next few months. We’ll be working with the Care and Support Alliance to share the experiences of people affected by MS, to make sure those who need care now aren’t left behind.

Employment

We’re pleased that the spending review includes an additional £156 million over the next three years to support disabled people to find jobs. £339 million per year will also fund existing disability employment programmes such as the Access to Work scheme and the Work and Health programme.

This year we've been speaking with politicians about the better support needed to help people with MS get into and remain in work.

Financial security

Today’s announcement includes important changes that will affect how much money many people with MS receive each month:

  • The National Living Wage will be increased to £9.50 an hour from April 2022
  • The taper rate in Universal Credit will be reduced from 63% to 55%. The taper rate is the amount of Universal Credit payments that claimants lose, as they work and earn more above a certain threshold.
  • The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) process will be simplified for people with long term conditions to reduce the frequency of health assessments.

As a member of the Disability Benefits Consortium, we've been calling on the Government to increase legacy benefits, including Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), in line with the £20 a week increase given to people on Universal Credit in April 2020. Sadly, the reduced taper rate for those in receipt of Universal Credit will not help legacy benefit recipients. This is something we'll continue to raise with the UK Government.

Our view

Phillip Anderson, our Head of Policy, said: 

"Most people with MS are diagnosed early in their careers, and 8 on 10 are forced to retire within 15 years of diagnosis. Yet today’s Budget does nothing to support those who are unable to work and in receipt of out of work benefits – like Employment and Support Allowance - nor does it go any way towards fixing our broken social care system.

"If the Government truly wants to bridge the gap, it needs to create a fairer society for everyone - especially those who have borne the brunt of the pandemic. They must stop leaving disabled people behind.”

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