By Chris York
Some disabled people could be left £300 a month worse off under Universal Credit compared to the old benefits system, according to a damning new report.
Research by Citizens Advice has found the Government’s flagship welfare programme will be detrimental to those in a range of different circumstances, including:
- working disabled people on Universal Credit could be more than £300 per month worse off because they struggle to access the Work Allowance while in work
- working disabled people who do get the Work Allowance could be more than £200 per month worse off due to weaker support from the Work Allowance when compared to support for disabled workers in Tax Credits
- disabled people who can only do limited work have their benefit reduced after
working just 6 hours a week at the minimum wage if they have housing costs, rather than 16 hours a week in the previous system. This means somebody working 12 hours a week can be over £100 a month worse off
- people without a carer and unable to work who make a new Universal Credit claim can be £180 a month worse off because the Severe Disability Premium was removed.
One of those affected is Sam, who has a degenerative neurological condition which affects him in various ways, totally limiting the use of his dominant right arm, as well as causing instability and balance problems.
Under Job Seekers Allowance, Sam was eligible for Disability Living Allowance, Disability Premium and Severe Disability Premium as he was a disabled person living alone.
When he moved over to Universal Credit he found he was missing out on £97.85 per week.
He told HuffPost UK: “They kept telling me I would be so much better off under Universal Credit and that it would be easier to manage as it’s just one payment per month.
“They didn’t tell me that I’d be losing money, but I’ve lost hundreds of pounds per month. It gets to the point that I pay my bills and I have £100 left to live on for the whole month.”
As well as the basics such as food and bills, the shortfall in money has affected his social life and, in turn, his mental wellbeing.
“I cant take part in birthday parties and things because I cant afford it. It gets me down that I can’t see my friends as much as I’d like,” he says.
Adding insult to injury, Sam told HuffPost UK of the outcome of a work capability assessment he was made to undergo to assess how much the limited use of his right hand affects him.
“In the initial work capability assessment they said I’ve got a left hand so use that instead. Because I’ve had this condition a long time I should be used to using it,” he said.
Universal Credit (UC) replaces six existing benefits – ESA, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit – with a single payment.
The rollout started with new recipients in pilot areas in 2013.
From July 2019, around two million people already receiving the old benefits will be moved on to UC in a “managed migration”, which is not due for completion until 2023.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Working disabled people need to prove they are unfit to work to get support meant for them. This goes against the government’s aim to support a million disabled people into work.
“Even when disabled people do get the support meant for them under Universal Credit, whether they are in work or not, they can be hundreds of pounds worse off a month than the previous system. This is money people desperately need to cover their bills.
“The government needs to address this and increase the financial support disabled people can receive under Universal Credit.”
A DWP spokesman said: “As Citizen’s Advice acknowledges, Universal Credit provides additional support including for disabled people. For those who can work, UC offers a tailored system of support that is seeing people moving into work faster and staying in work longer than compared to the old benefits system.
“We are spending over £50 billion a year to support disabled people and those with health conditions and this is set to rise every year of this Parliament.”