Universal Credit: Disabled Claimants

Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons on 7th October 2019.

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Photo of Jessica Morden Jessica Morden Opposition Whip (Commons), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Select Committee)

What assessment her Department has made of the effect of the introduction of universal credit on the financial circumstances of disabled claimants.

Photo of Debbie Abrahams Debbie Abrahams Labour, Oldham East and Saddleworth

What assessment her Department has made of the effect of the introduction of universal credit on the financial circumstances of disabled claimants.

Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

Universal credit targets additional support at a wider group than the system it replaces, with a much higher rate for severely disabled people than the employment and support allowance equivalent. Around 1 million disabled households will gain, on average, £100 a month on universal credit compared with legacy benefits.

Photo of Jessica Morden Jessica Morden Opposition Whip (Commons), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Select Committee)

It is shameful that it took the Government 15 months and a High Court ruling to sort out payments for those with severe disabilities, but it goes on. Why does a young constituent with Down’s syndrome who is making a new claim have to wait more than three months for a full payment?

Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

We continue to work with stakeholders and claimants to make sure the system is improved and can operate as quickly as possible. I encourage Opposition Members to support the £600 million of additional support for the severe disability premium and not pray against those regulations.

Photo of Debbie Abrahams Debbie Abrahams Labour, Oldham East and Saddleworth

Despite what the Minister says, the reality is that a new claimant on universal credit will be £180 a month worse off as a result of disability premiums not being available. That is in addition to the increasing number of disabled people who are dying after being found fit for work or being refused PIP. When will the Government ensure that disabled people are not discriminated against and are adequately resourced, as they would be under the Labour party’s policy?

Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

This Government are spending an additional £9 billion per year—a record high of £55 billion—supporting those with disabilities and long-term health conditions. The universal credit rate for the most severely disabled is more than double the equivalent employment and support allowance group rate, at £336.20, compared with a legacy payment of just £167.05.