Half a million hit by three-week wait for Universal Credit cash due to disability benefit rule change


HALF a million people claiming disability benefits face a three-week wait for Universal Credit.

A change to the benefit rules from today means they can be moved onto the newer benefit if their circumstances change.

Severely disabled Brits will have to wait for cash when moving to Universal Credit

There is a wait of five weeks between claiming Universal Credit and receiving the cash.

People claiming the Severe Disability Premium (SDP), which is worth between £66.95 and £133.90 a year, should continue getting their existing benefit for two-weeks after they claim.

But this will leave them with a three-week gap with no support.

HOAR has been calling for the government to scrap the five-week wait for cash as part of our Make Universal Credit Work campaign.

SDP is available to support some of the most severely disabled Brits and tops up older benefits like Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit or Pension Credit.

It’s estimated that around half a million people get SDP.

People getting SDP can now be migrated from these legacy benefits over to the new welfare system of Universal Credit.

It follows a change to the rules which comes into effect today.

People getting SDP can be moved onto Universal Credit if they have a change in circumstance, such as moving house or having a child.

But charities say they still stand to lose cash.

In addition to waiting for the new benefit to come through, the cash replacing the lost SDP is not ringfenced.

That means it can go down because of a change to circumstances.

Louise Rubin, head of policy and campaigns at disability equality charity Scope, said: “In this gruelling winter lockdown, when emergency support is desperately needed, many disabled people are instead facing more anxiety and uncertainty over their finances because of this poorly-timed change.

“This change affects people who receive the severe disability premium, a group with some of the highest support needs and extra costs.

On top of facing the five-week wait for Universal Credit, those affected will now be penalised because of changes out of their control such as their rent increasing, or their health deteriorating.

“Disability premiums aren’t a luxury, they help cover the extra costs disabled people face. They should never have been cut out of the welfare system under Universal Credit.

“Many who are shielding at home and facing spiralling energy costs now face the permanent threat of their vital premiums being eroded.

“With disabled people bearing the brunt of the pandemic, financial support is needed now more than ever.

“The Government must reintroduce disability premiums under Universal Credit and provide an emergency support package for disabled people hit hardest by the pandemic.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “The money from the legacy disability premiums is now more effectively targeted at support for the most severely disabled and when fully rolled out, Universal Credit will be £2 billion per year more generous than the support it replaces.

“Eligible people previously receiving the Severe Disability Premium can get transitional payments worth up to £405 a month.”

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