Ellie Ames 30 April 2024

Ministers propose disability benefits overhaul amid ‘spiralling’ costs

Ministers propose disability benefits overhaul amid ‘spiralling’ costs image
Image: PeopleImages.com - Yuri A / Shutterstock.com

Plans to overhaul the disability benefits system and ‘deliver better value for the taxpayer’ have been laid out by the Government.

A new Green Paper sets out reforms to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which supports disabled people to live independently by helping with the extra costs they face.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the proposals were part of a plan ‘to make the benefits system fairer to the taxpayer, better targeted to individual needs and harder to exploit by those who are trying to game the system’.

The proposals come amid the ‘spiralling’ cost of providing PIP, which the Government said was due in part to more people receiving the benefit for mental health conditions.

Ministers said they would review whether some people receiving PIP who face lower extra costs ‘may have better outcomes from improved access to treatment and support than from a cash payment’.

Work and pensions secretary Mel Stride told The Times this could mean not providing the benefit to people with ‘milder mental health conditions’, where ‘work is the answer or part of the answer’.

He said a ‘whole plethora of things’, including talking therapies, social care packages and respite care, could replace benefit payments.

But the MS Society’s head of policy, Ceri Smith, said the Government would have to start by ‘addressing NHS waiting lists and fixing social care’.

Smith also pointed out that PIP could ‘actually help people stay in work and maintain their independence for longer’.

With the next General Election to take place by 28 January 2025, it is not yet clear when the proposals would be introduced as legislation.

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