Universal Credit: Disabled people 'to lose out'


Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson: "We want to bring to people's attention how their benefits might change"

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Up to half a million disabled people and their families stand to lose out under the government's proposed Universal Credit, a report says.

The Children's Society, Citizens Advice and Disability Rights UK say 100,000 households with children could have incomes reduced by up to £28 a week.

They are urging a rethink, particularly on help for future claimants.

But David Cameron said greater support was being targeted at the most disabled and overall funding was going up.

The Universal Credit will replace Jobseeker's allowance, tax credits, income support, employment and support allowance - formerly known as incapacity benefit - and housing benefits with a single payment.

The system will be "piloted" in parts of north-east England next April and will come into force across Britain for new claimants from October 2013.

Existing claimants will be transferred to the new system in stages until 2017, while Universal Credit will be capped at £26,000 per household.


Start Quote

Increasing the overall amount of money, focusing on the most disabled - that I think shows the right values and the right approach”

End Quote David Cameron

The report argues that the changes will mean 230,000 severely disabled people who do not have another adult to assist them will receive between £28 and £58 less in benefits every week.

It also states that around 116,000 disabled people who work will be at risk of losing around £40 per week.

The report says the impact of the cuts in support for disabled children could be "extremely severe" for families currently receiving the mid-rate "care component" of the Disability Living Allowance, a payment made where a child can be severely disabled but does not need care overnight.

Of those families affected, one in 10 expressed fears that they could no longer afford their own home, while two thirds said they would have to cut back on food, and more than a half said it would lead them into debt.

Some families said the changes to support for disabled children could result in their children having to be placed in full-time residential care.

Biggest losers, according to the report

  • 100,000 disabled children who might lose £28 a week.
  • 230,000 severely disabled people without an adult to assist them, could be out of pocket by £28 - £58 a week.
  • 116,000 disabled people in work who are at risk of losing £40 a week.
  • However, the government says no current claimants will be out of pocket when the Universal Credit is introduced.
  • Anyone facing a reduced benefit payment will receive a cash top-up to match their current payment.
  • This payment, called "transitional protection", will be frozen at the time of the switchover and not index linked. Thus, over time it will be devalued by inflation.

The report says 83% of those eligible for the severe disability premium, which will be abolished under the changes, reported that a reduction in benefit levels would mean they would have to cut back on food and 80% said they would have to cut the amount they spent on heating.

The changes start to come into force from October next year and current benefit claimants who move on to Universal Credit will not see an immediate reduction in their payments.

'Clear message'

But they will have their level of benefit frozen, with no increases to take into account rising prices, campaigners say, and they may see their support cut immediately if their household circumstances change.

Independent peer Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who shares the title of Great Britain's most successful female Paralympian with cyclist Sarah Storey, said the findings of the report did not make "easy reading".

She told the BBC: "Under the new system it is going to be difficult for a number of disabled people. The government say people are protected but it's only for current benefit claimants.

PMQs: David Cameron on disability benefit and universal credit

"What we want to do is ask the government to think again. We are in a situation where the regulations of the Welfare Reform Bill are coming to us quite soon and we can make changes. I think we can improve the system to help disabled people lead better lives."

But, asked about the issue at prime minister's questions, Mr Cameron defended changes to disability benefits, saying overall funding would increase from £1.35bn in 2011 to £1.45bn in 2015.

"Under the plans, no recipients will lose out unless their circumstances change and all current recipients are fully cash-protected by a transitional scheme," he told MPs.

"What we are doing, and this is a decision and a choice we have made, is for future recipients we are going to increase the amount we give to the most severely disabled children and there will be a new lower amount for less disabled people.

"That is a choice we are making. Increasing the overall amount of money, focusing on the most disabled - that I think shows the right values and the right approach."

The report summarises the findings from three research reports based on evidence from surveys of almost 3,500 disabled people and their families, as well as a parliamentary evidence session.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 578.

    IF a still-civilising land, we will wish all to belong, to have equal means - at least in measurable material terms - for engagement in the political life that shapes the context of all our lives

    Unless in hand-to-mouth crisis, support for different needs should be… different

    If only a 'divide & rule' benefit-cap, Universal Benefit will bring harm & chaos, cost & disgrace

    NEED is Full Employ

  • rate this

    Comment number 577.

    Another side to the Starbucks/Vodafone/Boots Corp Tax, or lack of.
    The actual companies trying to compete, and still paying taxes

  • Comment number 576.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 575.

    The disabled are a very worthy cause but so is curing the sick and dying, protecting people from being mugged, educating the young, looking after the elderly...and so the list goes on. But we see in Greece what happens to social budgets when the government loses control of public finances...the social budgets gets decimated...so I do not envy the job the government is trying to do

  • Comment number 574.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 573.

    If you and your partner are both working full time and you have an 'ordinary' family to support - why is it that the State needs to sub you? Because of the low pay, high profit culture of business in the UK. For the love of (insert your favoured deity here) - it wasn't the poor that got the West into the present financial crisis - and 'they' won't all commit suicide to help 'us' out of it, either!

  • rate this

    Comment number 572.

    The state must help people who are genuinely disabled.I don't think anyone can argue with that. But the keyword is 'genuinely.' And is it unreasonable,for example to suggest that if someone is able sit at home all day on a computer,(like this site) ,then they could do a desk job ie call centre etc? I stuck at a job I hated for 31 years,by the way,so no sympathy for the workshy from me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 571.

    J Public - "My statements here have been factual."

    In what parallell universe is an "inverted Hitler" a factual reality? Can you define what it is for me please, to me it sounds like a rather nice person.

  • rate this

    Comment number 570.

    I worked for 20 years with emphysema. 12 years of which for the DWP. I am disgusted with the level of service I receive now I am on the 'other side of the counter'. Centralizing a system that worked does not work. Getting rid of experienced staff does not work a as for the latest unemployment, figures are disguised by renaming benefits.Actual unemployed include disabled, training and child care.

  • Comment number 569.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 568.

    554. Rayboto
    "Digging into the pockets of the poor to fix the financial meltdown created by the rich"
    It's called the Trickle UP economic model. We see no movement by this government to fix the original problem and punish/jail the offenders. We are still getting the "Labour legacy" cause.........even the crisis affected US, Greece, Spain, Ireland etc etc. Unbelievable!

  • rate this

    Comment number 567.

    @556 You my friend have hit the nail on the head.

    Bending over backwards to fix the country by favouring large corporations and private companies only works if they circulate their profits by creating good jobs and paying decent wages - they don't. They line the bosses pockets and pay for accountants to find tax loop holes so they give even less back.

  • rate this

    Comment number 566.

    Well ,we are all in this together , says PM Cameron ( of course we are? ) only problem is we still haven't got a paddle , and this place, with the Tories cluelessly going round in circles , is really starting to stink now!

  • rate this

    Comment number 565.


    What British companies do abroad is irrelevant, but you did hit the nail on the head, raise CT and make these foreign multi's pay their fair share in the UK. If they continue to destroy the UK competition at the rate they are CT revenue will decrease even further leading to higher taxation for the ordinary tax payer.

    Simplistic indeed.

  • Comment number 564.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 563.

    How sick has the UK become when the less abled are targeted in order to prop up the financial sector and other organised crime like cartels, tax avoiders, privatised failures and the like. Those who fell in world wars 1, 2 and all the others did not do so to maintain the gravy train fir a minority at the expense of the weak and vulnerable. They would turn in their graves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 562.

    Facile, Sixp (524).

    You and others like you see wealth as intrinsically immoral. Likewise in the context of welfare, you seem to believe that the only moral course is for all current recipients to carry on receiving the same benefits.

    This is a condescending and corrosive notion of morality. Public money should help the less fortunate, but it doesn't always mean paying for all their needs.

  • Comment number 561.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 560.

    It's pretty clear people detest cheats and scroungers, but appreciate the importance of supporting those with genuine problems. If more effort was made to detect cheats people would be happier to support the genuine cases.

    There was a cheat reported in yesterday's news. Apparently making huge, huge amounts of money and paying no tax. Unusual name - Starbook? Starbrook? something like that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 559.

    natural selection 21st century system style ? ....


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