17 November 2021


‘They made me feel like disabled people don’t matter’: High Court hears of DWP discrimination against disabled people during COVID-19

· A legal challenge being brought against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – starting today – could result in a back payment of £1,500 for millions of benefits claimants

· Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) gathered outside the High Court this morning to demand justice for disabled benefits claimants

Today [17 November] disabled people and allies gathered outside the High Court to protest the Government’s decision to deny millions of disabled people financial help to survive the COVID-19 crisis.

Starting today, the High Court is hearing a case brought by two disabled people claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA). The case states the Government acted unlawfully by denying nearly two million disabled people the same emergency increase of £20 per week that was given to those on Universal Credit to help them survive the pandemic.

At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, claimants of Universal Credit received the vital increase of £20 per week to help deal with the extra costs imposed by the pandemic. However, this vital lifeline was not extended to those on ‘legacy’ benefits such as ESA and Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), the majority of whom are disabled. This resulted in an increasing number of disabled people struggling to afford food, rent and medication.

Members of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) – a network of over 100 organisations including Z2K, the MS Society, MND Association, and Leonard Cheshire – rallied outside the High Court this morning to demand justice for those who were denied extra support.

Lynn Pinfield, 51, from West Lothian was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2018 and is unable to work as a result of her condition. She claims ESA, so was denied the £20 lifeline given to UC claimants. Lynn says: “I absolutely think this is a case of discrimination against disabled people, and the High Court should find it unlawful. Everyone on benefits should be treated equally. They have made me feel like disabled people don’t matter.

“During the pandemic, prices were steadily increasing but benefits remained the same, which was a struggle. With everyone at home all the time, our bills soared – our electricity bill doubled – and I’ve had to pay it all myself with no extra support. I had to buy a laptop for my daughter to do her online learning, so could have saved that £20 a week to pay for it instead of getting in to debt to buy it.”

Anastasia Berry, Policy Co-Chair of the DBC and Policy Manager at the MS Society says: “MS is relentless, painful and disabling, and many with the condition rely on benefits such as ESA as they are unable to work. It is utterly disgraceful that at the height of the pandemic, when disabled people needed help the most, the Government turned their backs. 78% of disabled claimants told us their financial situation worsened during the pandemic, with some forced to skip meals, fall behind on rent, or miss vital medical appointments as they could not afford to travel.

“Not only was this decision cruel, but it is clear that denying one group of people extra financial support is discriminatory and creates a two tier social security system. That’s why we are demanding justice for those who were discriminated against, and are calling for people on legacy benefits to receive a backdated payment of the equivalent amount given to those on Universal Credit.”

Ella Abraham, Z2K’s Policy and Campaigns Officer and Campaigns Co-Chair of the DBC, says: “For the last 18 months millions of disabled people, single parents and others on legacy benefits have been discriminated against and struggled to put food on the table without the £20 a week increase those on Universal Credit received. We’re here at High Court today to call on this Government to put an end to this discriminatory two-tier social security system. We want to see backdated payments for all those on legacy benefits who struggled to pay for essentials during the pandemic. We also want Government to recognise that benefit levels are woefully low – Social Security income needs to be increased urgently so that everyone is supported to live a stable and dignified life.”

Ellen Clifford, on behalf of the DPAC, said: “The Government’s failure to apply the £20 uplift to disabled people on legacy benefits was nothing short of discrimination. In so doing they chose to disregard the fact that disabled people’s unavoidable expenditure went up the most as a direct consequence of the pandemic.

“In the sixth richest country in the world no one should be left too poor to bathe, too poor to do their laundry, too poor to eat and to heat. This at the same time as disabled people have been in desperate fear for their lives with a minimum 60% of Covid-related deaths being those of disabled people and many of those on legacy benefits isolated and shielding for well over a year. This is one injustice that could be put right so easily and at relatively little expense to the Treasury by providing a back payment to those who lost out. It’s a terrible indictment that the attainment of justice once again rests on the backs of a few individual disabled people courageous enough to challenge the Government in the High Court.”


27 August 2021


EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01 Hrs, FRIDAY 27 AUGUST 2021

UK’s broken benefits system forcing disabled people to fall behind on payments and skip meals

THOUSANDS of disabled people on out of work benefits, such as Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Jobseeker’s Allowance, are facing considerable mental health and physical challenges as the pandemic has left them struggling financially, new research shows.

The stark findings are from the latest Disability Benefits Consortium’s (DBC) survey1. It was filled out by over 1,800 disabled people in receipt of out of work benefits (also known as ‘legacy benefits’) – including those with multiple sclerosis (MS), motor neurone disease (MND), and learning disabilities – and found:

  • Over two thirds (78%) said their financial situation was ‘worse’ compared to at the start of the pandemic
  • Half (52%) are spending ‘significantly more’ on household bills and utilities than they were before the pandemic, with a third (37%) spending ‘somewhat more’
  • Individuals’ weekly income meant they were unable or struggling to eat a balanced diet (67%), attend medical appointments due to public transport, petrol and taxi costs (33%), and pay bills, including their water, gas, electric, rent and mortgage (67%)
  • Just under half (46%) were falling behind on rent or mortgage payments

The findings come one month before the High Court is to hear on 28 and 29 September whether the Government acted unlawfully by not giving nearly 2 million disabled people on legacy benefits the same emergency increase of £20 per week that was given to people on Universal Credit to help them survive the COVID-19 crisis.

Samantha, 50, from Southampton is partially sighted. She also lives with chronic spinal problems, bowel incontinence, nerve damage in her right foot, as well as depression and anxiety. She is on ESA and Personal Independence Payment (PIP), and relies heavily on her sister and 13-year-old son to care for her.

Talking about the impact of the pandemic on her finances, she says: “The Government have made me feel like a second class citizen – it’s incredibly unfair and discriminatory that they didn’t give people like me the extra £20 per week to help survive the pandemic. I understand the top up was for general living, but when you’re disabled your living expenses are exactly the same.

“My finances have taken a huge hit since the pandemic started. My son – who does the shopping for me – had to shop locally as he was too young for me to send him to a major supermarket. This meant everything was more expensive – even things like a loaf of bread. As he was off school it meant we were going through more food, so I was going without my meals so he could eat three times a day.

“I also couldn’t risk putting the heating on, so through winter we both had to wear three cardigans each. I had to make sure I was taking my medication as I was in a hell of a lot of pain – made worse by the cold.

“Having an extra £20 per week then, and now, would mean I could get a supermarket delivery and not rely on my son to be off school so he could push me in my wheelchair to the shops.”

In response to the DBC survey, one person said: “I’ve lost over 15kg in body weight from going hungry.” Another said: “At the moment I have no bath or shower as I cannot use the bath due to my disability and the shower is broken and I cannot afford to replace it. It is a horrible way to live.”

In addition, someone wrote: “I cannot afford to socialise and attend events that used to help my mental health. I am now more physically disabled than before the pandemic started and cannot afford taxis.”

The Government has continually defended this decision. Excuses have ranged from saying this would be “too complicated” for their computer system to arguing they weren’t aware of any extra-costs or impact on disabled people. Most recently they have said people on legacy benefits have the option to switch to Universal Credit, ignoring the fact that wider adjustments could leave people worse off, as well as serious flaws in the assessment and monitoring process of Universal Credit.

Respondents to the DBC survey said they felt the Government’s actions were ‘discriminatory’ (46%), ‘cruel’ (21%), and unfair (21%), with one person saying: “The Government are sending a clear message that the disabled do not matter’. Another noted: “I think they hope to drive us all to suicide or an earlier death from our disabilities.”

Anastasia Berry, Policy Manager at the MS Society and Policy Co-Chair of the DBC, says: “The impact of the pandemic has been devastating for many disabled people, and it’s heartbreaking to read these latest findings. For the last 18 months we’ve called on the Government time and time again to stop discriminating against disabled people, and yet here we are again. How much more evidence do they need to show that disabled people, including those with MS, must stop being ignored and given the financial support they desperately need?”

“MS can be relentless, painful and disabling, and around a third living with the condition have to rely on ESA because they are simply unable to work. Disabled people are being punished for something that is beyond their control, and it shouldn’t take another survey, or the Government being taken to court, to acknowledge this.”

Ellen Clifford, on behalf of the DPAC, said: “It’s beyond time that the Government rectified their discriminatory approach to the £20 benefit uplift applied to Universal Credit during the pandemic. The failure to do this ignores the fact that it’s disabled people’s unavoidable essential spending that went up the most as a direct result of the pandemic.

“In the sixth richest country in the world no one should be left too poor to bathe, too poor to do their laundry, too poor to eat and to heat. This at the same time as disabled people have been in desperate fear for their lives with a minimum 60% of Covid-related deaths being those of disabled people and many of those on legacy benefits isolated and shielding for well over a year. This is one injustice that could be put right so easily and at relatively little expense to the Treasury. It’s abhorrent that the government refuses still.”

Ella Abraham, Z2K’s Policy and Campaigns Manager and Campaigns Co-chair of the DBC, said: “It’s been 18 months of discriminatory Government excuses which have continued to leave 2.5 million people without the vital income they need to support them throughout the pandemic and beyond.

“The Government must end this two-tier welfare state to ensure disabled people and those with health conditions aren’t pushed any further into poverty and destitution.”

For more information visit https://disabilitybenefitsconsortium.com/campaign-news/

ENDS

Notes to Editors

For press enquiries please contact: Samantha Banks, MS Society PR Manager. E: Samantha.banks@mssociety.org.uk T: 07825 441208

References:

Disability Benefits Consortium survey of 1,838 disabled people on legacy benefits, conducted through Survey Gizmo, 3-20 August 2021

The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is a network of over 100 organisations with an interest in disability and social security. Using our combined knowledge, experience and direct contact with millions of disabled individuals, people with long-term health conditions and carers, we seek to ensure that Government policy reflects and meets the needs of all disabled people. For our full list of members, see https://disabilitybenefitsconsortium.com/dbc-members/


17 February 2021


Pandemic Poverty: Parliamentary launch

dbc

Today via Zoom, the Disability Benefits Consortium held its parliamentary launch event for the report ‘Pandemic Poverty: Stark choices facing disabled people on legacy benefits.’ As well as talking through the striking findings from the new report a range of speakers discussed the importance of increasing legacy benefits by the same £20 provided to Universal Credit.

Firstly David Allen, who spoke powerfully about his own experiences of being on Employment and Support Allowance during the pandemic. Following David were cross-party MPs: Vicky Foxcroft MP, Shadow Disability Minister; David Linden MP, SNP Disability Spokesperson; Peter Aldous MP, Conservatives, who collectively called for an increase to legacy benefits as well as other wider changes needed in the benefits system.

You can read our latest report Pandemic Poverty in full here.


3 February 2021


EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01 Hrs, WEDNESDAY 3 FEBRUARY 2021

EATING OR HEATING: 66% of disabled people on legacy benefits are having to make this tragic choice. Read the new evidence from our report ‘Pandemic Poverty: Stark choices facing disabled people on legacy benefits’ here & press release below

Join over 119,000 people, over 100 disability organisations and cross party MPs in our campaign to extend the £20 uplift to legacy benefits – write to your MP today

Watch our video on why Rishi Sunak must do the right thing in the Budget on 3rd March


3 February 2021


EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01 Hrs, WEDNESDAY 3 FEBRUARY 2021

EATING OR HEATING:

Tragic choice two thirds of “forgotten disabled people” have been forced to make during pandemic

· For ten months Government has refused emergency funding to over 2.2 million people on legacy benefits to support them through the COVID-19 crisis

· New evidence sent to Chancellor Rishi Sunak shows disabled people now facing immense hardship

· Coalition of over 100 organisations working with disabled people fear ‘terrible consequences’ if Government fails to announce financial support for legacy benefits claimants in March Budget

Denying disabled people on legacy benefits, including Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Jobseeker’s Allowance, financial help to survive the COVID-19 crisis has left growing numbers unable to pay for rent, food and heating, new research shows.1

The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), a network of over 100 organisations including the MS Society, Z2K, Disability Rights UK and Inclusion London, asked 1,126 legacy benefits claimants what difficulties they have been facing since the start of the pandemic. The findings – which are included in the ‘Pandemic Poverty: Stark choices facing disabled people on legacy benefits’ report – reveal:

· The majority (82%) said they had spent more than they normally would – due to greater food shopping and utility bills, as well as having to pay for taxis to attend essential appointments – since the COVID-19 crisis began.

· Two thirds (66%) said they had to go without essentials like food, heating or medication as a result of increased costs since the pandemic started.

· Nearly half (44%) said they had fallen behind on financial commitments like rent, mortgage payments, or household bills.

The devastating impact shown in the report comes ten months after over 2.2 million people on legacy benefits were originally refused a £20 per week lifeline to support them through the pandemic – something people on Universal Credit have been getting since last March. The Universal Credit uplift will expire in April and no announcement has been made on whether it will be extended.

Excuses as to why legacy benefit claimants have been left behind include ‘technical difficulties’ and ‘they are getting a 37p annual increase from April’. The latest is that people on legacy benefits have the option to switch to Universal Credit, ignoring the fact that wider adjustments could leave people worse off, as well as serious flaws in the assessment and monitoring process of Universal Credit.2

Deborah, 53, from Cleckheaton in West Yorkshire lives with fibromyalgia. She cares for her partner, Steve, who has a congenital heart condition, and has just been diagnosed with diabetes. The couple rely on Deborah’s overdraft to pay for their food deliveries and heating, but now she is £800 overdrawn and having to make the choice between the two.

She says: “Being overdrawn makes me really stressed out because I’m thinking ‘how am I going to get this all back down?’ We’re already having to cut back on things like food, but the worst is not being able to have the heating on.

“We both feel like we’re undervalued…as if we don’t matter to the Government, whereas people on Universal Credit are better looked after. That extra £20 would be a godsend, and would mean we could put the money towards things we desperately need.”

David Allen, 62, was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1996 and lives alone in Luton. He has been receiving legacy benefits for over 10 years. David was bedbound with COVID-19 in March, and, as he is clinically vulnerable, has no choice but to have food delivered.

He says: “My shopping bill usually comes to £20 to 35 per week, but as I don’t feel safe going to the supermarket I’m having to rely on deliveries. The minimum order is £25, but if your order is less than £40 you get hit with by a delivery charge. On top of this, a tremor caused by my MS means it’s dangerous for me to use a knife or carry pans with hot water in, so I have to buy ready meals and prepared vegetables that I can put in the microware. These all come at a premium.

“I’m constantly worrying about other costs – I find myself sitting in the dark more than I should so as not to turn the lights on for too long, as well as only switching the TV on when I’m watching a programme. I live on my own so it’s hard not to think your world is closing in around you. The harsh reality is that the pandemic has meant our bills are going up quicker than our income, and there’s just nowhere to go to make up for that. It’s meant we feel abandoned and left to sink.”

Over 120,000 people have signed the ‘Don’t Leave Disabled People Behind’ petition, and 98% of MPs in the UK have heard from their constituents about the issue. In addition, The Work and Pensions Select Committee, Social Security Advisory Committee, MPs from all parties, countless other charities and coalitions, the Lords Economic Affairs Committee and, most recently, the APPG on Poverty have all supported the DBC’s call to immediately give all out of work benefits the same COVID-19 emergency £20 increase that Universal Credit has seen.

Anastasia Berry, Policy Manager at the MS Society and Policy Co-Chair of the DBC, says: “An unforgivable number of disabled people have been put in danger of falling into poverty because of the extra costs of the pandemic – and the Government continues to ignore them. For nearly a year over 2.2 million people on legacy benefits have been given little more than a promise from the Prime Minister that he would “wrap his arms around the country” – but platitudes don’t keep people warm. Many have been forced to make awful choices to help them survive – from choosing between heating and eating to racking up debt to pay for rent.

“We have heard every excuse for why disabled people are being discriminated against, but the latest – that they can ‘move to Universal Credit’ – is the most misleading yet. The Government’s disregard of the facts could result in people being even worse off financially. The upcoming budget is a chance for the Chancellor to finally show the forgotten disabled people they matter, and they’re as important as those in receipt of Universal Credit. Without the £20 lifeline more people will be pushed into poverty and face terrible consequences.”

Ella Abraham, Z2K’s Policy and Campaigns Officer and Campaigns Co-Chair of the DBC, says: “2.2 million people on legacy benefits, the majority of whom are disabled, have now been excluded from the £20 per week financial lifeline for 10 months. The Chancellor’s inaction on this has created a two-tier discriminatory welfare state which has pushed a huge number of people into poverty.

“Forcing people onto Universal Credit where many will not be better off isn’t a solution, what we need is a social security system that ensures people are not having to survive on the bare minimum but have the income they need to live a stable and dignified life. The Government must increase legacy benefits now.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

For press enquiries please contact: Samantha Banks, MS Society Senior Press and PR Officer. E: Samantha.banks@mssociety.org.uk T: 07825 441208

References

1. The Disability Benefits Consortium survey of 1384 people – 258 on Universal Credit and 1126 on legacy benefits – was conducted through the British Psychological Society, 4-18 January 2021.

2. In response to the Government saying legacy benefits claimants can, if they wish, move to Universal credit, the DBC has written to the Chancellor, Ministers and MPs to highlight the serious flaws in this argument. These include the fact some will still be worse off on Universal Credit – and may not realise this (the Department for Work and Pensions has said it is unable to advise individual claimants), some who are better off on Universal Credit because of the £20 uplift will be worse off if it is removed in April, and many vulnerable claimants find the online Universal Credit claim and subsequent claim management intimidating and in some cases an insurmountable barrier.

The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is a network of over 100 organisations with an interest in disability and social security. Using our combined knowledge, experience and direct contact with millions of disabled individuals, people with long-term health conditions and carers, we seek to ensure that Government policy reflects and meets the needs of all disabled people. For our full list of members, see here.


3 February 2021


Read our letter to Rishi Sunak 

Dear Mr Sunak,

Re: Increase Disability Benefits campaign reaches over 119,000 signatures.

You will no doubt remember that we wrote to you back in June. Then, as now, we called on you to give parity to disabled people claiming legacy benefits, such as Employment and Support Allowance, Job Seekers Allowance and Income Support by extending the £20 uplift afforded to those claiming Universal Credit since Spring.

Since we last wrote, thousands more have signed our petition urging you to do justice to those on legacy benefits by extending the uplift. And today, in anticipation of your Spending Review announcement, we deliver these tens of thousands of calls to action to you.

Just as you no doubt do, those who have signed our petition recognise that disability costs. People living with a disability and those with long-term health conditions tend to have lower real incomes and higher costs than the general population. This has been compounded during the pandemic, with many disabled people facing extra costs. Costs such as paying for taxis, to avoid the risk of public transport; paying for supermarket deliveries to avoid the risk of going to shops; paying for higher call and data charges to avoid loneliness and isolation.

Both the Social Security Advisory Committee and the Work and Pensions Select Committee as well as a number of MPs have called for the uplift to be introduced. The Secretary of State cited the inability of the IT systems as a reason not to implement an immediate change. However, with the Spending Review imminent where the benefit rates will be decided, this is your opportunity to do the right thing.

We believe that it cannot be the deliberate intent of Government to abandon some of the most severely and chronically disadvantaged citizens to heightened financial struggle in the midst of the destabilising, frightening and isolating experience of living with disability in the context of a global pandemic. With no immediate end in sight to this pandemic, it is only fair and reasonable to provide the same boost to those on Job Seekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Income Support as has been provided to those claiming Universal Credit.

Disabled people are likely to feel the impact of this crisis for a long time to come. Please don’t leave them behind!

Should you have any questions please contact me at matthew.harrison@mencap.org.uk.

Yours sincerely,

Matt Harrison

On behalf of the DBC Steering Group (Parliamentary Co-chair, Disability Benefits Consortium)


3 June 2020


‘Please, do not leave anyone behind’ our message to the Prime Minister as disabled people continue to be discriminated against by not being given the same support as everyone else

Join the DBC’s call in demanding the Government to stop leaving disabled people behind.

EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01 Hrs, WEDNESDAY 3 JUNE 2020

‘Computer says no’ – Government excuse for hundreds of thousands of disabled people denied emergency Covid support

· Government uses ‘computer says no’ as an excuse for disability discrimination during Covid-19 crisis

· Over 115,000 have signed ‘Don’t Leave Disabled People Behind’ petition to give people on ALL legacy benefits an emergency top up – following Universal Credit’s £20 uplift

· Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak to stop discrimination against disabled people by backdating pay

THOUSANDS of disabled people have been missing out on an emergency out of work benefit top-up to help them through the Covid-19 crisis because the Government says it will take too long to make changes.

The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), a network of over 100 organisations, has been told the reason people on all legacy benefits have not received the same £20 uplift as those claiming Universal Credit is because it is “too complicated” for the Government computer system.

In addition, on 27 May Neil Couling, the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Senior Responsible Owner for Universal Credit, said the emergency £20 was only ever intended for new claimants, and it was a “windfall gain” for existing ones. He went on to say they wanted to help “people affected by the pandemic”, failing to acknowledge the impact the virus has had on disabled people – and will have for a long time to come.

This has meant for 60 days thousands of people living with a disability or with long-term health conditions – who tend to have lower incomes and higher costs than the general population – have missed out on financial help during the pandemic. This is despite a recent DBC survey1 finding 95% of disabled people had seen an increase in their costs as a result of the pandemic – from needing more money to safely access food to having to pay for higher heating and water bills while shielding at home.

Chris Bourne, 60, is from Leeds. He gave up work in 2019 to care for his wife Dawn who lives with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). Dawn receives Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) so does not qualify for the extra £20 a week. Chris says: “Dawn is among the most vulnerable people in this country, so it doesn’t make sense why we can’t get the £20 uplift. It might have only been a few months, but council tax and the water bill has already gone up. Having that £20 would help towards these essential bills – especially as I have no real wage other than the weekly £67 I get as a carer. We need that financial support.”

Last month, the DBC set up the ‘Don’t Leave Disabled People Behind’ petition which has received over 115,000 signatures. They have now written to Rishi Sunak MP urging him to end the discrimination against disabled people, and for pay to be backdated to when the top up to Universal Credit was introduced. Those who have signed the petition are also being encouraged to tweet the Chancellor, and over 130 people have written to their own MPs asking for urgent change. While the Social Security Advisory Committee has said “it is increasingly untenable for this group of claimants [people on legacy benefits] to be excluded”.

Anastasia Berry, Policy Manager at the MS Society and Policy Co-Chair of the DBC, says: “More than 130,000 people live with MS in the UK, and many who receive out of work benefits are being denied extra financial support at a time when they need it the most.

“To say the reason is because ‘computer says no’ is a slap in the face for the thousands of people in vulnerable situations who have been hit with extra costs to survive the pandemic. This is not an acceptable excuse, and we urgently need to see an increase in ESA and other legacy benefits so those living with MS, and other disabled people, aren’t left behind.”

Ella Abraham, Z2K’s Policy and Campaigns Officer and Campaigns Co-Chair of the DBC, says: “Discriminatory Government excuses are leaving over 2.5 million people without the vital support they are fully entitled to. At a time of crisis, the Government must stop wasting crucial time and extend the emergency £20 Covid-19 increase to all out of work benefits to ensure everyone is safe.”

Join the DBC’s call in demanding the Government to stop leaving disabled people behind.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

References

1. Disability Benefits Consortium survey of 224 disabled people, April 2020

For press enquiries please contact: Samantha Banks, MS Society Senior Press and PR Officer. E: Samantha.banks@mssociety.org.uk T: 07825 441208

The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is a network of over 100 organisations with an interest in disability and social security. Using our combined knowledge, experience and direct contact with millions of disabled individuals, people with long-term health conditions and carers, we seek to ensure that Government policy reflects and meets the needs of all disabled people. For our full list of members, see https://disabilitybenefitsconsortium.wordpress.com/dbc-members/


27 April 2020


The new DBC briefing ‘“It would mean not having to skip meals” – the emergency need to #IncreaseDisabilityBenefits’ can be found in the DBC reports section.

Join the DBC’s call in demanding the Government to stop leaving disabled people behind.

***EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01 Hrs, MONDAY 27 April 2020***

Press Release, Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC)

‘Stop discriminating against millions of disabled people’:

100 disability charities demand increase to ALL out of work benefits – not just Universal Credit

The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), a network of over 100 organisations, has called the Government’s decision to increase Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits by £20 “discriminatory”, as millions of disabled people on other out of work benefits will not see an uplift – despite facing immense hardship and fearing for their safety in the current climate.

Alongside a petition supported by MPs and the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, the DBC released results of a survey of over 200 disabled people which found nearly all (95%) had seen an increase in their costs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, 92% admitted they were struggling with additional food costs – and others said they were having to find the money needed to pay people to collect food and medicine, and higher heating and water bills as they were forced to shield at home.

One respondent said: “I cannot carry shopping home, due to a chronic illness impacting my spine. As online orders from supermarkets are completely booked, I have had to find alternative shops to order from for home delivery, all of which are considerably more expensive.”

Another said: “Electric and gas charges are way up. My father is paying for some of my energy charges out of his pension. This isn’t right.”

Some even said they’re having to choose between heating their homes, feeding themselves and their families, or buying medicine, with one respondent saying the extra £20 “would mean not having to skip meals.”

Ella Abraham, Z2K’s Policy and Campaigns Officer and Campaigns Co-Chair of the DBC, says: “The Government are discriminating against millions of disabled people on other benefits by choosing to only ‘focus on new claimants’ on Universal Credit.

“We stand with the hundreds of disability charities and activists demanding The Government immediately give all benefits the same COVID-19 emergency £20 increase that Universal Credit has seen to ensure the safety of everyone.”

Anastasia Berry, Policy Manager at the MS Society and Policy Co-Chair of the DBC, says: “More than 130,000 people live with MS in the UK, and many in receipt of out of work benefits were struggling financially before the COVID-19 crisis. Now, hit with extra costs to survive the pandemic, the Government’s decision to only increase Universal Credit means they are discriminating against the people who need support most.

“MS is relentless, painful and disabling, and we know around a third living with the condition rely on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) because they are unable to work. We urgently need to see an increase in ESA and other legacy benefits so people with MS, and other disabled people, aren’t left behind.”

Join the DBC’s call in demanding the Government to stop leaving disabled people behind.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

References

1. Disability Benefits Consortium survey of 224 disabled people, April 2020

The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is a network of over 100 organisations with an interest in disability and social security. Using our combined knowledge, experience and direct contact with millions of disabled individuals, people with long-term health conditions and carers, we seek to ensure that Government policy reflects and meets the needs of all disabled people. For our full list of members, see https://disabilitybenefitsconsortium.wordpress.com/dbc-members/