This Forecast in-depth page has been updated with information available at the time of the November 2023 Economic and fiscal outlook. We are aware of a technical issue with our tableau charts across the site. Access the data from our March 2023 forecast and our November 2023 forecast supplementary tables directly.

The Treasury manages public spending within two ‘control totals’ of about equal size:

  • departmental expenditure limits (DELs) – mostly covering spending on public services, grants and administration (collectively termed ‘resource’ spending) and investment (‘capital’ spending). These are items that can be planned over extended periods.
  • annually managed expenditure (AME) – categories of spending less amenable to multi-year planning, such as social security spending and debt interest.

Welfare spending is the biggest source of AME spending. Disability spending (excluding devolved spending) is forecast to account for 12.2 per cent of total welfare spending in 2023-24 (up from 11.5 per cent in 2022-23).

In our November 2023 Economic and fiscal outlook (EFO) we designated welfare spending into broad recipient groups. Forecasts for individual benefits are available in supplementary table 3.7 on our website.

For this summary, disability benefits spending refers to expenditure on disability living allowance (DLA), personal independence payment (PIP) and attendance allowance (AA). These benefits are intended to contribute towards the extra costs associated with disability, based on the extent of the recipient’s disability, whilst employment support allowance and universal credit provide income support for those unable to work for health reasons.

From April 2020 funding for DLA, PIP, and AA has been devolved to the Scottish Government. Spending on these now-devolved benefits is no longer included in the welfare forecast in our EFO but is included in disability spending in the information below for the purposes of consistency with the long-run time series prior to their devolution.

Support was mostly provided to disabled claimants through DLA from 1992 until 2013, when PIP began being introduced for working-age claimants in place of DLA, with different eligibility criteria. AA provides support to pensioners making new claims for support with substantial and regular care, while those reaching pension age who already receive DLA or PIP can continue to do so. DLA and PIP provide financial support to assist with both care (or daily living) and mobility needs, but AA only covers the former.

Disability benefits spending is forecast to be £39.1 billion in Great Britain in 2023-24. We forecast spending to increase to £58.1 billion in 2028-29. That would represent around 4 per cent of total public spending, and 2 per cent of GDP.

Average awards across the different disability benefits varies, with PIP recipients receiving an average of £6,900 each in 2023-24, DLA claimants £5,520 each, and AA claimants £4,820 each.

  Previous forecasts

Disability benefits spending has been revised up in most of our forecasts. This can largely be explained by higher spending than expected on disability benefit reforms, including the introduction of PIP in 2013. We explored these trends in more detail in our 2019 Welfare trends report. Spending was also revised up in our November 2022 forecast due to higher uprating and upwards revisions to the PIP and DLA caseloads. We explained these changes in our November 2022 supplementary release on Upwards revisions to welfare spending since March. In our November 2023 forecast, we revised down caseload growth assumptions as real household disposable incomes recovered in light of new evidence on the link between new claims and cost-of-living pressures, as detailed in our November 2023 EFO.

  Back to top

  Policy measures

More detail on policy costings up to and including the November 2023 forecast can be found in our policy measures database and in the Treasury’s relevant Policy costings document.  For measures announced since December 2014, the uncertainty ranking that we assigned to each is set out in a separate database. For those deemed ‘high’ or ‘very high’ uncertainty, the rationale for that ranking was set out in Annex A of the relevant Economic and fiscal outlook.

Key changes to disability benefits spending since 2010 have included:

  • the introduction of PIP in 2013, replacing DLA for working-age claimants with different eligibility criteria;
  • devolution of disability benefits to Scotland in April 2020, alongside a number of other smaller benefits, accounting for around £3 billion in spending; and
  • delay to full PIP rollout in November 2022, which paused the managed migration of legacy DLA claimants to PIP until April 2028, saving £0.8 billion over five years.

  Back to top

Other expediture