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Millions worse off if PIP and disability benefits are means-tested

DWP refuses to rule out several disability benefits becoming means tested

Emily Atkinson
Friday 04 November 2022 13:57 GMT
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Millions of Britons unable to manage without disability benefits could see their support slashed if the government diverts to a means-tested system.

Regardless of income, beneficiaries can currently claim up to £627 in Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or £369 in Attendance Allowance per month.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt warned on Thursday that there were “difficult decisions” ahead as the government seeks to “restore stability” after interest rates were bumped to their highest point since the 1980s.

Attention has now turned to the Autumn Budget, which will see the Treasury outline its spending plans for the year ahead, with the government expected to propose a package of sweeping cuts as it seeks to plug a £50bn chasm in the nation’s finances.

Amid fears that vital public services could bear the brunt of cuts, anxiety over the future of disability benefit access has been further inflamed after the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) refused to rule out several disability benefits becoming means-tested.

Mel Stride, the secretary of state for work and pensions, this week faced questions in the Commons over the annual uprating of state pensions, cost of living support, pension credit take-up and benefits.

Labour’s shadow secretary of state for work and pensions, Jonathan Ashworth, asked: “Can he give a categorical assurance that, in the Autumn Statement, he will rule out means-testing Personal Independence Payments, Carer’s Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance for Children?”

“The prime minister tells us that we do not need a general election because the 2019 manifesto gives him and the Conservative party a mandate. Given that that manifesto committed to the Triple Lock, why can he not give pensioners the reassurance that they deserve?”

Mr Stride skirted around the question but did not rule out that the benefits could be means-tested.

Replying to Mr Ashworth, Mr Stride said: “The right hon gentleman is inviting me, in a whole host of areas, to break with what has been a very long-standing and quite correct convention that ministers simply do not provide a running commentary about what may or may not be in a major fiscal event.

“However, he has my personal assurance that when and as it is appropriate to pass him information of that kind, he will be the first to know.”

An estimated 2.9 million people rely on PIP payments, while another 1.8 million people claim Attendance Allowance.

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