Warning over impact of universal credit on disabled people

Tens of thousands of disabled adults and children will be much worse off when the new universal credit comes into force from 2013, says a new report. The scale of cuts facing disabled people has not been properly understood because the changes have so far been viewed in isolation.

The report, by three charities, looks at a number of different scenarios to illustrate the impact of the combined changes on disabled children, adults and their families.

Key points

  • Halving support for disabled children will push many families below the poverty line, resulting in a loss of £1,400 per year for some.
  • Young carer families could lose up to £70 per week in support. Children of an estimated 25,000 disabled lone parents will be under greater pressure to care for them as a result.
  • Couples where both partners are disabled will in many cases lose more than £100 a week under the new system, even if one of them is working.
  • There is a real risk some single disabled people living alone and working could end up homeless, due to the combined impact of cuts to in-work support and housing benefit.
  • A disabled person who uses a manual wheelchair and can self-propel it 50 metres will be treated as non-disabled and will no longer qualify for any extra support under universal credit.
  • Pensioners with a seriously ill working-age partner – for example, someone with Parkinson’s disease who has had to give up work – could lose nearly £100 a week.

Source: Sue Royston and Sam Royston, Disability and Universal Credit, Citizens Advice/Children’s Society/Disability Rights UK

Links: Report | Citizens Advice press release | Guardian report