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Budget 2016: opposing cuts to welfare benefits

March 18, 2016

Action for M.E. is extremely concerned about the impact of welfare cuts, announced in this week’s Budget, on people disabled by M.E.

Chancellor George Osborne will cut £1.3 billion from the welfare benefit Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which is likely to have a significant impact on some people with M.E. Set to be implemented from January 2017, this will reduce the number of possible points that can be scored in relation to using an aid or appliance to help manage personal care, and will mean that some people may no longer qualify to receive PIP.

The announcement in the Budget closely follows a Government consultation on proposed changes to the way PIP is assessed, which would make it harder to qualify in relation to using aids or appliances. Action for M.E. strongly objected to these proposed changes, working with the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) to set out a detailed response to the consultation.

While the Government did not go ahead with all of the changes suggested, we remain extremely concerned about the impact of PIP reform on people with M.E.

We are encouraged to note that the Government’s own backbenchers have spoken out against the changes. Quoted in the Guardian today, Andrew Percy, Conservative MP Brigg and Goole said, “This is about need, it is not about welfare reform. These people have these needs. These needs are not going away and therefore the payments should not go away.”

Action for M.E. will continue to:

  • work independently and with the DBC to oppose these changes
  • engage with MPs through our work with the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on M.E. to highlight the impact of these changes on people with M.E.
  • meet with ministers, MPs and policy-makers to ask how they can bring about improved outcomes for people with M.E.

Cuts to ESA

Prior to the Budget, Action for M.E. campaigned to stop changes to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), which had been set out in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill. 

These changes will see new ESA claimants placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) receiving the same amount of benefit as those claiming Jobseekers Allowance. This equates to £30 per week less than the current amount.

Unfortunately, after considerable debates in the Commons and the Lords, this proposed cut will go ahead. Our campaigning has meant that MPs are better informed about its impact on people with M.E., and we will continue to highlight this in our work with the DBC and the APPG on M.E.