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Comprehensive Spending Review: 20 October, 12.30 Pre-Spending Review statement

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Publication Date: 19 October 2010

Arthritis Care warns that cuts to the welfare budget, which will be announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review, could leave many disabled people at risk.

Neil Betteridge, chief executive of Arthritis Care, said: ‘The Spending Review reforms are likely to have a big impact on disabled people, including many of the 10 million people with arthritis in the UK. Disabled people are likely to suffer more than the average person as a result of the cuts.

‘We know the cuts will be widespread and we will be looking at how the cuts will impact on people with arthritis across the board. We are expecting the cuts to have an impact on the welfare support that so many people with arthritis rely on, whether it be to cover the extra costs of disability or to support those who are unable to work.

‘People with arthritis make up a very large proportion of disability benefits claimants, and arthritis is the most common condition for which people receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Benefits like this are not luxuries, they are key entitlements which disabled people rely on in their daily lives. The Budget has already attacked this key benefit, with the government stating that a new medical assessment will be introduced for DLA in 2013. This vital benefit will, as a result, be removed from many current claimants.

‘In addition, according to the most recent figures from the DWP, 21% of all Incapacity Benefit or Employment Support Allowance beneficiaries have a musculoskeletal condition.

‘We know all too well how difficult it is for many people with arthritis to remain in or return to work without the right support from employers and the state – a recent study by Arthritis Care showed that 34% of people with arthritis are unable to work due to pain, while 30% struggle at work.

‘Ian Duncan Smith has stated that new work-related benefit sanctions will not be brought in until proper support to help people back into work has been created. Arthritis Care says the reforms to disability benefits should be based on people’s actual ability to take up work, and not on arbitrary targets that will only end up harming the most vulnerable people in our society.

‘The charity hopes that the government will also guarantee that people who are taken off disability benefit and required to look for work are given the support they need to re-enter the job market: even now, there are not enough jobs to go round for those who are currently out of work, and situation is only set to get worse.’

‘Cutting the deficit cannot come at the expense of making some of the most vulnerable people in our society destitute.’

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