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

Watch our video on why Rishi Sunak must do the right thing and extend the £20 uplift to legacy benefits:

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/