Universal credit’s hidden cut pushes disabled people into poverty

Severely disabled people, like Philip, are losing their lifeline as disability benefits disappear in the rollout of universal credit.

Universal credit is in full-blown crisis, from cross-party criticism of its inbuilt six-week delayto a symbolic government defeat in the Commons over pausing its rollout. But one of the policy’s most shameful parts is barely being noticed: the hidden cut being forced on some of Britain’s most severely disabled people.

Philip, 41, who has multiple mental and physical health problems – including severe anxiety and depression – knows it all too well. An injury in his 30s severely damaged his left foot and he can only move on crutches.

He medically retired as a roadsweeper in 2011 and before universal credit came in he was getting by on a patchwork of disability benefits. The titles – employment and support allowance (ESA), enhanced disability premium (EDP), and severe disability premium (SDP) – sound like government jargon, but to Philip they were his lifelines.

Under “welfare reform”, lifelines can be torn away fast: this summer, Philip moved flats across south London and found himself cross into universal credit territory. Although it will not be rolled out to ESA claimants until 2019, Philip’s change in circumstance by moving house meant he was transferred onto universal credit early. What he discovered was a reality that scores of disabled people across the UK will soon be facing: neither EDP nor SDP exist under universal credit.

Do the sums and changing to universal credit means Philip is losing £40 a week. That’s a cut of more than £2,000 a year. The result is brutal. Philip can no longer afford to eat properly. Instead, he’s skipping meals. “I’m feeling physically weaker now,” he says.

Philip no longer has enough money to pay for the taxis he needs to get to his hospital appointments. “I get very anxious on public transport and don’t feel very safe,” he explains.

The financial strain doesn’t stop there. When he moved his rent was not fully paid for three weeks. He is appealing, but is now in rent arrears of over £450.

read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/oct/31/universal-credit-pushing-disabled-people-into-poverty

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Disabled To Lose £3,000 In Benefits

Just one in 10 households are set to gain anything from the Con-Dem universal credit scheme, with half actually losing out.

Trade unionists and child poverty campaigners called on Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan-Smith yesterday to take note as they released a damning report on the economic effect of his benefits changes.

The scheme combines a range of benefits – from jobseeker’s allowance to housing benefit and income support for those on low wages – into a single lump sum paid in arrears each month.

The millionaire minister hailed a pilot scheme launched in Manchester earlier this month as starting a “fundamental cultural shift,” moving people off benefits and into work.

But critics have already warned the scheme carries heavy sanctions for those already in work but too poorly paid to support themselves.

Claimants on minimum-wage jobs of less than 35 hours a week risk losing their benefits unless they trawl classifieds, attend job interviews with 48 hours’ notice or even quit the job they already have.

The TUC and Child Poverty Action Group‘s report found that some of the worst off under universal credit were working couples with children and working solo parents.

Ninety-four per cent of two earner couples with children will receive less in benefits by the end of 2015 than they would under the existing regime, while 76 per cent of working-lone parents will also miss out.

But the biggest losers would be working people with disabilities, as the government’s decision to scrap the severe disability premium – an allowance for people without an adult carer – would cost some £3,000 a year.

from http://welfarenewsservice.com/disabled-to-lose-3000-in-benefits/?fb_source=pubv1#.UYoZysrGaWg  7/5/2013