Questions about MS? Call us on 0808 800 8000
The photo shows a jar on its side with coins spilling out.

Cost of living crisis is an emergency for people living with MS

The cost of living crisis means people with MS aren't living well. Hear from Yolanda and find out what we're asking of the UK Government.

People living with MS are going without everyday essentials such as food, transport and medication due to the cost of living crisis. The UK Government needs to do more to support people to live well. 

Inflation in the UK is now at 9%, but the government only increased benefits by 3% this year. This means people with MS who rely on benefits have had their incomes cut in real terms. The rate of employment is 41% for people with MS, compared to 81% for non-disabled people. So this means many rely on benefits to cover vital living expenses. 

Read our benefits and MS booklet

What does this mean for people with MS? 

We’re hearing from people with MS who’ve been left in need of food and unable to pay bills. Some people are struggling with mental health and even reducing or stopping vital MS treatment.  

Yolanda Barker, a 50-year-old grandmother from Ashford in Kent, lives with secondary progressive MS and receives legacy benefits. She’s unable to work and relies on her husband to help her with showering, cooking, and cleaning. The benefits she receives aren’t enough to cover basic living costs, such as food, fuel and energy. 

Yolanda said: “Some days we can only afford a sandwich for dinner, which I know isn’t good for us. Energy bills are a big concern – we don’t buy food that needs a long time in the oven. And I even worry about boiling vegetables and using the toaster.

I’ve stopped dying my hair and I haven’t had a hair cut in eight years – my husband just trims it a bit for me. I’ve had to sacrifice my wellbeing for absolute essentials. My mental health has been impacted hugely as I’m constantly worrying about money and feeling under pressure. There isn’t even hope on the horizon only more doom.” 

What do we want? 

We’re calling on the UK Government to give immediate emergency financial support to disabled people on benefits. And we’re asking them to do this by increasing Universal Credit and legacy benefits by £20 a week.  

Legacy benefits include Employment and Support Allowance and Income Support and will eventually be replaced by Universal Credit

As well as the calls, we’ve stressed that any financial support must include people claiming legacy benefits, the majority of which are disabled. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK Government refused over 2.2 million people on legacy benefits the same £20-a-week lifeline those on Universal Credit received.  

We’re also urging the government to raise benefits in line with inflation to keep up with soaring costs.  

Anastasia Berry, our Policy Manager, says: “This cannot wait. The government must take immediate action to keep up with the cost of living. And, crucially, any support must help people who need it the most - disabled people. Back in 2020, the UK Government justified its discriminatory COVID-19 benefits uplift policy. They claimed people on Universal Credit were hardest hit by the pandemic. That argument simply will not work this time.

"The UK Government cannot abandon people on legacy benefits, like Yolanda, again.” 

We're here for you

You don't have to face challenges alone. Call our MS Helpline for free, Monday to Friday, 9am to 7pm except bank holidays. 

It’s free to call from landlines and mobiles within the UK. What you tell us is confidential and when you call us, it won’t show on your phone bill.