Disabled people ‘worse off’ under universal credit

Up to half a million disabled people and their families – including children and disabled adults living on their own – will be worse off under the government's proposed new universal credit scheme, according to an inquiry led by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.

The inquiry report summarises the findings from three pieces of research looking at survey evidence from almost 3,500 disabled people and their families. The three reports examined the impact of universal credit on families with disabled children, people receiving the severe disability premium, and disabled working people.

Key findings

  • Although many people may be better off under universal credit, three key groups of disabled people – 450,000 people in total – stand to lose out once it is fully implemented. 
  • 100,000 disabled children stand to lose up to £28 a week. The impact is likely to be greatest for lone parents caring for disabled children. More than three-quarters of this group say they will need to cut back on food, and as many as one in six say they may need to move home.
  • 230,000 severely disabled people with no another adult to assist them could get between £28 and £58 a week less. For those currently eligible for the severe disability premium, 80 per cent or more say a cut in benefit levels will mean having to cut back on food and heating.
  • Up to 116,000 disabled people who work risk losing around £40 a week. 54 per cent of those questioned say this will make it harder to stay in work due to their higher costs, and 48 per cent say they are likely to get into debt.

The report makes a series of recommendations for improving universal credit for disabled people, including: protecting children on the mid-rate care component of disability living allowance; providing additional support for childcare costs for families with disabled children; introducing a self-care addition to universal credit; and providing support to disabled people found to be fully ‘fit for work’ but significantly disadvantaged in the workplace as a result of an impairment or health condition.

Source: Holes in the Safety Net: The Impact of Universal Credit on Disabled People and their Families, Citizens Advice/Children's Society/Disability Rights UK
Links: Report | Research report (1) | Research report (2) | Research report (3) | Citizens Advice press release | Disability Rights UK press release | BBC report | Guardian report

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