Ministers urged to put Universal Credit rollout on hold to protect disabled claimants
Ministers should delay the rollout of Universal Credit until they are sure that disabled claimants are protected from the potential impact, according to a cross-party group of MPs.
A report by the powerful Work and Pensions Select Committee said there are not enough safeguards in place to ensure that around one million disabled people moving off Employment Support Allowance onto the new benefit will not be worse off.
Instead, they said the Government should wait to see the full results of a pilot scheme involving 10,000 claimants before sanctioning the full transition to the new regime.
Under the new system, disability premiums worth up to £64 a week for a single person are being removed in a change which, the committee says, could leave many claimants destitute.
"Removing vital additional support offered by the disability premiums from universal credit risks disabled people living more isolated lives, relying on unpaid care (including from their own dependent children) or simply being unable to complete certain basic daily tasks," the report said.
Committee chairman Frank Field said: “The government’s plans will see ‘very’ disabled people getting the extra help they need at the cost of other disabled people. We have already seen the terrible cost of the department’s failure to find out what is happening to the most vulnerable claimants in the transition to universal credit.
“People receiving the disability premiums are already, by definition, managing in some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable in our society, and this includes disabled children, and children forced to care for a disabled parent. It would be a terrible betrayal of these people to allow another failure of planning in this mega reform to worsen their situations, even one bit."
A DWP spokesperson said: "More than a million disabled people will be better off by £100 a month under universal credit and £3bn of funding will help protect families as they move over from the old system.
"Universal credit does work for the vast majority, and the managed migration regulations are set to be debated in parliament in due course.”