There is widespread concern across the disability sector over both the cuts to Universal Credit (UC) as well as how it is being implemented.
The Chancellor has responded in the budget in part by increasing work allowances by £1,000 per year to “benefit 2.4 million working families with children and people with disabilities by £630 per year”.
While this is clearly welcome news for those in work, the Budget has done nothing to alleviate the disability sector’s concerns about disabled people being worse off under Universal Credit. With the benefit freeze remaining as well as there being no change to the cuts to the disability premiums under UC close to a million disabled people, a huge number of whom are not in work, will still be worse off under UC by an average of over £2600 a year after transitional protection has been exhausted.
The Chancellor also announced that going forward there will be a ‘2-week run-on’ of means-tested Jobseekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance and Income Support which will reduce the gap without an income for some, although only from July 2020 onwards.
Again, this is a welcome step in the right direction. However, we remain concerned that disabled people will still end up having to go without financial support for a number of weeks as a result of migrating onto UC.
We are also deeply alarmed by the Chancellor’s confirmation that regulations would still be laid soon to enable managed migration from legacy benefits to the new UC without any further guarantees being given that the regulations will be amended to ensure that there is no risk for disabled people to lose their benefits in the process.
The DBC has been lobbying the Government for some time to ensure that disabled people’s benefits are not terminated until a successful application for UC has been made and the right support is in place for those who need it.