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Universal Credit is not working for disabled people

At Scope, we know financial shocks can have a massive impact on the lives of disabled people. The welfare system is designed to provide support for people when they need it, and Universal Credit has been created to simplify this support. 

But as the new Universal Credit system becomes a reality for millions of disabled people, many face losing vital support which they used to receive, and are facing a long wait to get the support they are entitled to. 

Life costs more if you're disabled

Paul, who is disabled, told us about his experience of moving to Universal Credit.

He said, “I have lost out on so much money, which was used to make my life a little more tolerable. None of which is my fault.”

Sadly, this is not a standalone experience, and there are millions more people like Paul.

These long waits can be particularly damaging for disabled people, who face extra costs of, on average, £583 per month.

Simply, life costs more if you’re disabled. And to make matters worse, barriers such as entrenched negative attitudes from employers, inaccessible workplaces and public transport, mean that it’s harder for disabled people to find and stay in work.

As a result, disabled people have less financial resilience. A 5 week wait, while being moved over to Universal Credit, can rob disabled people of a vital income to cover essentials like rent, food and bills. 

Gaps in income support have caused significant hardship for Paul, who after being wrongly declined Employment Support Allowance, had to apply and wait for Universal Credit. 

Paul said, “I had not received any money for about a month. My rent was not being paid, I had no food in the house, and bills were unpaid.”

No-one should be left like this under a fully functioning welfare system. Disabled people, on average, have fewer savings and assets than non-disabled people, so financial shocks can hit them much harder.

Moving to Universal Credit

Gaps in support, when moving to Universal Credit, not only rob disabled people of their income, but also of some of their dignity. 

The confusing process of moving onto Universal Credit clearly puts people’s support at risk. To make matters worse, even if they are moved successfully, many disabled people and families with disabled children will be financially worse off, as the new system doesn’t fully replace the Severe Disability Premium top-ups they used to receive.

Paul experienced exactly this, as he lost out on his top-ups under Universal Credit, and is currently £280 per month worse off as a result. 

The Government must recognise the barriers disabled people face, and take action, so their critical financial support does not disappear and nobody is left without their income while being moved to Universal Credit. 

Only then, can we start to see a welfare system which works for disabled people.

Scope is proud to support The Trussell Trust’s 5 Weeks Too Long campaign which aims to end hunger and poverty in the UK.


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