Benefit changes announced in Autumn Statement

4 mins read

Friday 24 November 2023

Tags: autumn statement

On Wednesday, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt set out the government’s plans for the economy in his Autumn Statement. Read our CEO’s response.

Below we outline some of the main benefit changes relevant to families with disabled children.

Benefit changes at a glance

The Chancellor announced:

  • Uprating working-age benefits and disability benefits next year in line with consumer price inflation of 6.7%.
  • Lifting the freeze on the local housing allowance, which caps benefit payments towards rent in the private sector. Local housing allowance will increase so it covers the cheapest 30% of properties in each area.  This should mean more help with rent for private tenants on Universal Credit or Housing Benefit. 
  • Confirming the introduction of a new ‘Back to Work Plan’. This will target jobseekers who ‘disengage’ via a stronger sanction regime and more intensive work coach support. 
  • Expanding DWP programmes that support mental and physical health. This includes a new WorkWell service to support those at risk of entering long-term unemployment to either enter or return to the workplace.
  • Abolishing class 2 National Insurance contributions currently paid by self-employed people from April 2024, while allowing self-employed people to continue to access contributory benefits such as the state pension.
  • As part of a ‘crack down’ on benefit fraud and error, new powers will allow access to data held by third parties such as banks.

Response to consultation on proposed changes to the work capability assessment

The work capability assessment is a disability assessment the government uses to decide how much benefit disabled adults on certain benefits like Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance should receive. It also determines whether they should be look for work while claiming that benefit.

There are three possible outcomes of a work capability assessment:

  • You can be found fit to work.
  • You can be found to have a ‘limited capability for work’.
  • You can be found to have a ‘limited capability for work and work related activity’(LCWRA).

The government intends to scrap the work capability assessment and replace it with the Personal Independence Payment assessment. However, that change is not expected to take place until 2026/27 at the earliest.

In the meantime, the government intends making changes to the work capability assessment. This will see a reduction in the number of new claimants having a LCWRA. In responding to a consultation, the government has confirmed that it plans to make these changes from April 2025, for new claims only.

If you have a limited capability for work, you don’t have to look for work, but you must still take part in work-related activities to get you more ready for work. For example, you may have to take part in training. Having a limited capability for work does not lead to any additional benefit payments.

However, if you have LCWRA, you won’t need to meet any work-related conditions like job seeking or training. You’re also eligible for an extra amount of benefit. 

Changes the government is proposing

Substantial risk to health

The government plans to amend the rules that allow a disabled person to be treated as having a LCWRA where taking part in work-related activity would place them or others at ‘substantial risk’. These rules will become more restrictive.

Although yet to announce full details about how it will apply the new rules, the government says that it will protect those with physical health problems. This means that where being taking part in work-related activities would lead to a deterioration in your physical health, the government will protect you as someone at substantial risk. 


It also plans to remove difficulties with mobilising from the list of activities used when deciding whether someone has a LCWRA. Currently those who cannot mobilise for more than 50m without pain or discomfort are one of the groups having a LCWRA.

The government claims that those with the most significant mobilising needs will not lose out as a result of this change. Instead, the substantial risk rules will treat them as having a LCWRA.

Difficulties in physically mobilising will still factor in deciding whether someone has a limited capability for work.

Getting around

In assessing whether someone has a limited capability for work, there will be a reduction in points awarded for difficulties in getting around without the help of another person, for example due to mental health problems. 

Other changes consulted on

The government has decided that it will not proceed with proposed changes in how the work capability assessment deals with problems with incontinence or in engaging in social engagement.

Need advice?

We have lots of information and advice about benefits and tax credits and money and debt.