Legacy Benefits: People with Severe Disabilities

Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons on 13th December 2021.

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Photo of Judith Cummins Judith Cummins Labour, Bradford South

What recent assessment she has made of the adequacy of legacy benefits for people with severe disabilities.

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Assistant Whip, The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

People on legacy benefits with severe disabilities are most likely to get employment and support allowance. Income-related ESA claimants may be entitled to the enhanced disability premium or the severe disability premium. Claimants may also be eligible for personal independence payments to help with the extra costs of living faced by disabled people.

Photo of Judith Cummins Judith Cummins Labour, Bradford South

I am sure the whole House agrees that a good society is one that helps those in great need. I have a constituent in great need. She was in receipt of income support and the severe disability premium, but her child is now aged five so she has been told to claim universal credit, which will cause her severe disability payment to end. What assurances can the Minister give my constituent that we are still in a good society and that, by being forced into this change in her benefits, she will be no worse off?

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Assistant Whip, The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

It would be difficult for me to comment on the hon. Member’s constituent’s precise circumstances, although I am happy to look at the case if she wants to write to me with details. As a general point, to support claimants previously entitled to the severe disability premium who moved to universal credit after a change of circumstances, there are transitional payments protections in place.

Photo of Vicky Foxcroft Vicky Foxcroft Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

The DWP commissioned NatCen to undertake research on the uses of health and disability benefits. As my hon. Friend Judith Cummins eloquently outlined, that research, which assesses the adequacy of benefits for disabled people, is vital. Several requests have been made for the report to be made public, including by the Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, but they have all been refused. Will the Minister release the report? If not, can she explain what the Government are hiding?

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Assistant Whip, The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

The short answer is no. The longer answer was given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to the Work and Pensions Committee only last week.