On Monday, 22 July 2019, Amber Rudd announced that the Government would be laying regulations to enable the pilot of transferring existing welfare claimants onto Universal Credit (UC) to go ahead. The regulations, which were originally to be discussed in Parliament, have now been laid by negative resolution, meaning that after months of delay there will be no substantial debate in parliament of what is included in the regulations.
The announcement, and the regulations, also include a new measure to give claimants previously in receipt of the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) backdated payments of up to £405 per month alongside their Universal Credit award, up from a maximum of £360. We are seeking clarification of how these figures have been arrived at.
The DBC has long argued for a review-based approach to migrating existing benefit claimants onto UC, looking at each case individually, and therefore remains concerned by the approach taken by the Department. The DBC believes that this approach risks vulnerable claimants, including disabled people, who are not in touch with any services, falling through the cracks. Questions also remain how the Department will scale up this ‘who knows me’ approach to a national level.
Furthermore, the DBC would like to see more detail as to how the pilots will be evaluated, how the Department arrives at the compensation figures for previous SDP claimants and how the Department will address the outstanding concerns by the DBC around level of benefits available to disabled people under UC, as well as the five-week waiting period.
As outlined in our recent report ‘Has welfare become unfair?’ the introduction of Universal Credit is likely to increase levels of poverty amongst many of those reliant on this benefit for their income. The DBC will therefore continue to campaign for a better deal for disabled people.