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11.07.12

Disabled most affected by introduction of universal credit

Benefit reforms will unfairly disadvantage disabled people, a group of charities has claimed in a new report.

‘Disability and Universal Credit’ was compiled by Disability Rights UK, the Children’s Society and Citizens Advice to show how the combined effect of the changes to benefits could push many families below the poverty line.

Universal Credit is set to be fully implemented by October 2013.

Abolition of the severe disability premium would remove around £60 a week of benefits for those who live alone or just with their children and who are so disabled as to be unlikely to ever find work. The disability element of child tax credit will also be cut from £57 a week to £28.

In an introduction to the research, Lady Grey-Thompson writes: “No group will be more affected than disabled people. Under the new system, financial support for some groups of disabled people will be much lower than current support available for people in the same circumstances.

“Cuts such as those to support for most disabled children and disabled adults living alone are going to make the future considerably bleaker for many of the most vulnerable households inBritain.”

The report states: “We are very concerned that the scale of the cuts in support for some groups of disabled people has not yet been properly understood because the changes have been viewed in isolation.”

Sue Royston, of Citizens Advice, said: “Universal credit simplifies things, but this is a simplification too far.”

Neil Coyle, of Disability Rights UK, stated that benefits cuts will particularly penalise disabled children, disabled people living alone without a carer and disabled couples.

He said: “The universal credit will end the top-up pots of support for the most disadvantaged, like the severe disability premium. A third of disabled people already live in poverty in theUKand the cuts to be imposed under universal credit plans will penalise many thousands more.”

In an emailed statement, the DWP responded: “The present system of disability support is a tangled mess of premiums and add-ons which is highly prone to error and baffling for disabled people themselves.

“The universal credit will deliver a simpler and fairer system, with higher payments for the most severely disabled people and improved support for carers.”

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