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DBC’s comment on uprating benefits

Chris Philp, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said the government has not yet decided if it will increase benefits in line with inflation, despite Rishi Sunak promising to do so when he was chancellor.

Anastasia Berry, Policy Manager at the MS Society and Policy Co-Chair of the DBC, says: “We are horrified that the Government is considering breaking a promise to disabled people while at the same time giving a tax break to millionaires. As the cost of living continues to rise, the pledge to raise benefits in line with inflation should not be up for debate. The Government’s mini-budget means that someone making £1 million will be £55,000 better off each year – in order to fund this they are now looking to take up to £1600 a year from disabled people, some of whom can’t afford food and medicine. 

“People living with disabilities, including many with MS, are already facing a hugely difficult winter and they need more, not less. Recent data shows one in five people with MS (19.6%) don’t have enough money to pay for the vital medication or treatments they need, meaning their symptoms could get dramatically worse. So far the new Government has dangerously overlooked disabled people and it must reaffirm the pledge made earlier this year to raise benefits in line with inflation. This should be the bare minimum to support those we know are already at breaking point.” 

DBC’s response to the Chancellor’s cost of living support package

As the cost of living rises the UK Government announced the support households across the UK would receive. For disabled people, this means that:

Disabled people who claim means-tested benefits – including Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Pensions Credit – will get a one-off payment of £650
in addition, those who claim Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payments (PIP) will receive a further one-off payment of £150, with a separate one-off payment of £300 to pensioner households every household will receive £400 towards their energy costs from October and won’t need to pay it back.

Overall, disabled people who claim both means-tested benefits – like Universal Credit or ESA – and disability benefits – PIP or DLA – will have their incomes boosted by £1,200.

“The DBC is pleased that the Chancellor has listened to the concerns of disabled people claiming legacy benefits and recognised the disproportionate impact of the cost of living crisis on disabled people. It’s been a long time coming, but is welcome nonetheless.

“But the Chancellor also needs to recognise the need for an interim uprating – the cost of living crisis is more than about the cost of fuel. And in the longer term, Government needs to commission research on the adequacy of benefit rates, both in and out of work.”

Further details from:

Geoff Fimister

Tel. 07743 813740


Policy Co-Chair,

Disability Benefits Consortium

DBC Letter to the Chancellor to help people on legacy benefits to weather the cost of living storm

Dear Chancellor

Do not leave legacy benefit claimants out in the cold

We are the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), 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.

When the country was plunged into crisis by the pandemic, you wisely and swiftly gave those in receipt of Universal Credit a critical boost to their income in the form of the £20/week uplift. But you gave nothing to those on legacy benefits. During the height of the pandemic, we talked to disabled people about the unjust disparity between the treatment of people receiving Universal Credit and those who claim legacy benefits.

Lynn Pinfield, 51, from West Lothian was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in2018 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. 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.”

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 [had] taken a huge hit since the pandemic started. I 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. ”Now we find our country in crisis once again – a crisis which is once again putting household budgets under incredible, untenable strain. You will be aware of the keen and urgent debate about how you and your colleagues might alleviate the acute financial stress that those on the lowest incomes are experiencing right now.

We are contacting you today to ask that claimants be compensated with either an uplift of at least the current rate of inflation or a restoration of the £20/week uplift. But whichever the intervention, it must be applied to all claimants. If you once again provide a much-needed cushion to those claiming Universal Credit, you must guarantee that disabled people claiming legacy benefits will this time not be not left out in the cold.

Yours sincerely,

Co-chairs of the Disability Benefits Consortium

Anatasia Berry, MS Society

Caroline Collier, Inclusion Barnet

Dominic Milne, RNIB

Ella Abraham, Z2K

Geoff Fimister, IRRV

Hannah Nicholls-Harrison, Mencap

Matthew Harrison, Mencap

Nic Murray, Leonard Cheshire

Sue Christoforou, Parkinson’s UK

DBC comment on the Chancellor’s Spring statement

The Chancellor’s Spring Statement demonstrates the Government’s inability to comprehend the devastating impact of the cost of living crisis on disabled people.

Despite inflation, fuel costs and food prices skyrocketing, they have chosen to push through a reprehensible real terms benefits cut – forcing people deeper into poverty.

Living with a condition like, for example, multiple sclerosis can be relentless, painful and disabling and recent analysis from the Disability Benefits Consortium shows that some of the hardest hit disabled people will face an unthinkable real terms cut of £1,432 per year. This will leave some facing impossible choices between food, medication and other essentials.

Talking about a cost of living crisis while pushing through a real-terms benefits cut is like telling someone about a storm while drilling a hole in their boat. The Government must increase benefits levels in line with inflation, or disabled people’s health will suffer even more.

Another problem is that many disabled people in work are low-paid and Ministerial statements and media comment tend to be misleading whenever tax thresholds (the point at which you start paying) are increased.

Raising (from July) the National Insurance (NI) contribution threshold to align with the point at which Income Tax begins to be paid has to be right in principle. NI contributions are a form of income-based taxation so there really is no case for their kicking in at a lower level of income. Correcting this anomaly is long overdue.

However, raising tax thresholds (whether, as in this case, NI – or, as in previous Budgets, Income Tax) tends to be presented as a concession to low-paid workers. This is misleading, for two reasons:

· The extra income applies to all contributors or taxpayers, so is not particularly targeted at the low-paid

· Those claiming means-tested benefits will lose most of the extra income in reduced benefit. For example, a low-paid worker getting Universal Credit will lose 55p. in the £ of any increase in net income, plus possible further losses in local means-tested Council Tax Support.

Another measure announced by the Chancellor that is less good news than it at first seems is the extra £500m. for the “Household Support Fund” (a cash-limited pot administered by local councils on a discretionary basis). These are useful payments for those who receive them, but this is a small amount compared with the scale of the cost of living crisis and it enables central government to deflect responsibility onto local government. When individual cases of hardship come to light, Ministers can blame local Councils for not making discretionary payments.

To emphasise again: in our view, it is the Government’s responsibility to increase benefit levels in line with the real, current rate of inflation

Chancellor’s Spring Statement must not forget disabled people again

In the news, on social media, in parliament, and in families across the country, you will hear people talking about the ‘cost of living crisis’, but for many disabled people, it’s more than this. It’s the ‘cost of surviving crisis’.

Many disabled people on legacy benefits have already struggled through the pandemic. Left behind by a Government which claimed to ‘wrap their arms’ around some of the most vulnerable people, they failed to provide financial support for some of those in society who saw the biggest impact. Now faced with an increase in fuel and food costs, many disabled people are being pushed deeper into poverty, confronted with devastating choices that nobody should have to consider. Lynne, who has MS, told us: “I’m a single parent, with three kids and grandchildren. Things are really tight as they are, let alone if bills go up. At the moment all I think about is money and how I’m going to be able to pay the next bill – it’s exhausting.”

Recent figures from the DBC show that disabled people on Employment and Support Allowance, like Lynn, will experience an average real terms cut of £272 per year. Overall, some of the hardest hit disabled people will face a real terms cut of £1432 per year. This is on top of being denied the extra £20 per week support those on Universal Credit received during the pandemic, which left two thirds of disabled people claiming legacy benefits who responded to a DBC survey, going without essential items.

DBC figures showed that even before the increase in inflation, and energy costs, 62% of disabled people on legacy benefits were unable to eat a balanced diet, 64% were struggling to pay essential bills such as water, electricity and rent, and worryingly, nearly a third of respondents (30%) told the DBC they were sometimes or always unable to attend medical appointments due to the associated transport costs of attending.

It’s still unclear how the Chancellor will respond to calls for more financial support for people in the upcoming Spring Budget. Many solutions that have been hinted at across various channels suggest a focus on supporting low-paid workers, and while of course this is welcome, by doing this the government fails to recognise a significant number of disabled people who are unable to work, unable to top-up their income, unable to increase their hours or benefit from changes to UC, and unable to have an acceptable standard of living.

Without doubt, disabled people’s health will suffer if they are not provided with extra financial support now. The government cannot hide behind the same excuses they did when they failed disabled people on legacy benefits at the beginning of the pandemic. They must not and cannot be forgotten again.

DBC responds to The Uses of Health and Disability Benefits report

Today the Work and Pensions Committee has used parliamentary powers to publish a report The Uses of Health and Disability Benefits commissioned by the Government into disabled people’s experiences of the benefits system that the DWP had consistently refused to make public.

Anastasia Berry, Policy Co-Chair of the Disability Benefits Consortium and Policy Manager at the MS Society says: “Despite the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) relentless attempts to bury this research, we can finally see what they’ve been so desperate to hide. The report was commissioned to provide in-depth insights into how disabled people spend the financial support they receive, which is supposed to help with daily living and the extra costs they face because of their disability. But what it has uncovered is the inadequacy of these benefits for many disabled people. It shows some are struggling to pay for essential day-to-day expenses, such as food, heating and medications, let alone these extra costs.

“The DWP’s failed cover-up of this damning research is just the latest example of their disregard for disabled people, including those with MS. For years, disabled people have been subjected to a benefits system which is stressful, confusing, and fails to provide the basic support they need. Now, with the cost of living crisis erupting, many are reaching breaking point. The Government can no longer continue to push disabled people aside, or hide key pieces of evidence. They must urgently increase benefits by 6% in April, in line with current inflation, and create a social security system that puts disabled people first.”

Baroness Ruth Lister, who has repeatedly questioned the DWP’s refusal to publish the report, told the DBC: “It really is not possible to discuss support for disabled people without shining a light on the adequacy – or otherwise – of benefits. The DWP has been silent on this issue, not mentioning adequacy once in last year’s health and disability Green Paper. This must change. The Work and Pensions Committee is to be congratulated on bringing this report into the public domain, where it should have been long ago”.

DBC responds to Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman investigation into DWP error

Around 118,000 people with disabilities and health conditions had their benefits wrongly reduced when first moving to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) around a decade ago. This error was corrected by the DWP in issuing backdated payments, however, investigating the case of one of these people, Ms. U, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has now said that this group should be compensated for the impact this error had on their lives.

Anastasia Berry, Policy Manager at the MS Society and Policy Co-Chair of the DBC, says: 

“The decision not to provide compensation for those affected by this latest blunder is yet another example of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) treating disabled people like second class citizens.  

“The DWP should provide backdated payments, but this alone does nothing to address the devastating knock-on effects that disabled people, like Ms U, have endured as a result of the mistake. Ms U’s experience, like thousands of others, meant she could not afford to heat her home or buy food and missed out on other vital benefits such as free prescriptions

“The DWP’s colossal mistake has had distressing long-term impacts on people’s physical and mental health, and we fully support the Ombudsman’s call for a compensation scheme.”

DBC’s Responds to the Budget 2021

Budget: 27 October 2021

Comment by the Disability Benefits Consortium

Some good news for disabled people in work, but most on low incomes passed by in Budget

Disabled people in work are disproportionately likely to have low earnings, so measures to help low-paid workers are welcome and right in principle:

· an increase in the statutory national “living wage” (main rate going up to £9.50 per hour)

· an increase in Universal Credit (UC) Work Allowances (by £500 per year for those eligible)

· UC taper rate (withdrawal rate as earnings increase) reduced from 63% to 55%.


Although welcome, these changes nevertheless have their limitations:

· workers benefitting from a minimum wage increase and also receiving in-work means-tested benefits (such as UC, Tax Credits, Housing Benefit and local Council Tax reduction schemes) will still lose most of the extra pay through a combination of taxation and reduced benefits

· disabled workers without children, receiving UC but not defined as having limited capability for work, no longer receive UC Work Allowances

· the reduction in the UC taper rate helps those on low pay but higher up the UC distribution range (that is, earning enough to be affected by the taper) but not those lower down

· crucially, nothing is done at all to help disabled people who are not in work – particularly concerning, given that employment rates are much lower for disabled people than for the general population, while for many, their disability or health condition mean that paid work is not a realistic prospect.


· The £20 increase to UC introduced during the pandemic went unmentioned by the Chancellor and the decision to withdraw it (already being implemented) still stands

· the decision not to extend this increase to recipients of “legacy” benefits (the old benefits being replaced by UC) – currently the subject of legal challenge – also still stands

· disabled people not in work were completely absent from the Budget’s low-income measures.

How much is enough?

Another key issue on which the Budget was silent is the adequacy of the various benefit rates. As we pointed out in our submission to the Government’s recent Health and Disability Green Paper, although (except for years in which they have been frozen) benefits are normally increased annually according to an index of inflation, the initial amounts to which that increase is applied have not been assessed for adequacy. (It is our understanding that there has been no official assessment of adequacy since an unpublished internal study in the early 1960s – not acted upon).

We would like to see policy in relation to benefit rates informed by research on minimum income standards along the lines of that conducted annually by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The Government should regularly commission such research, not least in relation to the benefit rates that particularly apply to disabled people.

This is not merely a matter of subsistence. Independent living requires that disabled people should be able to afford to take part in the range of social and cultural activities that most of society takes for granted.

In this context, we were surprised to learn recently that the Department for Work and Pensions had commissioned (from NatCen) research on the subject of “The uses of health and disability benefits”. We understand that the Department has been in possession of the report of this research for some time but did not refer to it in the Green Paper and has since indicated that it does not intend to publish it. This report should be published. It is obviously of direct relevance to discussions around current and future support for disabled people and would help to put the October Budget into context.

Further details from:

Geoff Fimister

(Policy Co-Chair,

Disability Benefits Consortium)

E-mail with copy to

The Millions Missing Out

One month before the High Court is to hear whether the Government acted unlawfully by not giving nearly 2 million disabled people on legacy benefits the emergency £20 per week increase the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) has released its new report ‘The Millions Missing Out.’

Based on a survey of over 1800 disabled people on legacy benefits the report lays out just what missing out on this uplift has meant to millions of disabled people. The stark findings reveal that almost eight in ten respondents (78%) have found their financial situation worsen during the pandemic, as the vast majority (87%) face increased household bills and utilities.

Despite the ongoing campaign to #IncreaseDisabilityBenefits, the Government has continued to defend their decision, even claiming they weren’t aware of any increased costs faced by disabled people as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. 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.”

We are calling on the Government to end this two-tier welfare state, ensuring the almost two million disabled people and those with health conditions are no longer left missing our and being pushed further into poverty and destitution.

You can find the report and the rest of the DBC’s consultation responses here.

DBC & DPAC Letter to Minister for Disabled People on Green Paper

The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) and Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) have written an open letter (below) to the Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson MP expressing their concerns about the consultation period for the recently published Health and Disability Green Paper.

The Green Paper was published on the 20 July 2021, following a two year wait, but the Government are only providing the standard 12 week consultation timeframe for feedback, leaving many disabled people without time to respond fully or even at all.

This is why we are calling on the Government to extend the consultation period of the Green Paper by six weeks, to ensure that this crucial feedback to its proposals can be properly heard.

Dear Mr Tomlinson

RE: Health and Disability Green Paper consultation

We are writing on behalf of the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), a national coalition of over 100 charities and organisations working towards a fairer Social Security system and Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), regarding the publication of the Health and Disability Green Paper and its short consultation period.

Disabled people and the organisations that work with them are very disappointed that not only was the Health and Disability Green Paper published just before the Summer break, but that the consultation period is the standard time frame. By definition, this time frame does not make reasonable adjustments that disabled people need. In a recent survey by Z2K, over 1420 people with experience of the benefits assessment process were asked about their views on the what was then upcoming Health and Disability Green Paper. The research showed that:

-88 per cent of people are either “not at all confident” (67 per cent) or “not so confident” (21 per cent) that the Government will use the feedback they receive during this Green Paper consultation to make changes to the assessment process for benefits

-74 per cent of people think Government won’t listen to the changes people who have been through the assessment process themselves want to see made to the assessment process for benefits

This announcement has only further fuelled those concerns and disappointment.

The Department has expressed its commitment to engaging meaningfully with disabled people and disabled people’s organisations (DPO), however, this timeframe puts those people in a position where they are either not able to respond in time, not going to be able to respond properly, or do not have time to engage with the people they work with in developing their responses. This will severely impinge upon your ability to pay due regard to the impact on disabled people of the proposals outlined in the paper.

You will appreciate this is a crucial opportunity for disabled people, and the organisations that work with them, to be able to feed into the Government’s work on improving the social security system.

This Government’s 2019 manifesto set out the commitment to empower and support disabled people and be an ally –therefore we urge you to extend the time period by an additional six weeks to ensure the very people impacted by the policies being consulted on in this Green Paper, are able to respond to it.

Yours sincerely,

Caroline Collier

Disabled People’s Organisations Representative, on behalf of Disability Benefits Consortium

CEO, Inclusion Barnet

Ellen Clifford

On behalf of Disabled People Against Cuts

#IncreaseLegacyBenefits Survey- Share your experiences

In March 2020, the Government increased the standard rate of Universal Credit and working tax credits by £1,000 a year (£20 a week). However, the same increase wasn’t applied to those on legacy benefits, including Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, and Job Seekers Allowance. This resulted in over 1.9 million disabled people being denied the emergency uplift to support them through the pandemic. 

As part of the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) we have been calling on the Government to extend this £20 lifeline and, while it has still not happened, the High Court is to decide whether it was lawful of the Government not to give people on legacy benefits the same £20 per week increase as those on Universal Credit in September.

This is a positive step in recognising the unfair treatment of disabled people on legacy benefits, but the fight to end this discrimination hasn’t ended yet.

Your feedback will help us to show the Government they must urgently #IncreaseLegacyBenefits. Click here to take our new survey

The Government has finally published the Health and Disability Green Paper

The Department for Work and Pensions published its new Health & Disability Green Paper on Tuesday 20 July. The Paper sets out proposals to improve the welfare system’s support of disabled people & those with long term health conditions. We’ll be reviewing its contents and consulting with our member organisations. Please respond to the consultation.

Matthew Harrison, Public Affairs Manager at Mencap and Parliamentary Co-Chair of the DBC, says: “We welcome the Green Paper, as it is crucial that disabled people have the opportunity to shape how the social security system can work better for them.

The Disability Benefits Consortium’s report from 2019 on the last 10 years of welfare changes found that disabled people have lost payments of around £1,200 on average each year due to these changes and our surveys have shown that many disabled people have faced additional financial struggles during the pandemic.

This Green Paper will hopefully set us out on a new path to address the numerous widely known issues in the social security system including assessments, advocacy, and support.

Moreover, it is important that this is truly a listening exercise rather than simply a ‘tick box’ on the path towards pre-determined outcomes. We shall be consulting our member organisations, which between them are in touch with thousands of disabled people and their carers.”

#IncreaseLegacyBenefits Update- Upcoming claimants’ court case

UPDATE 20 SEPTEMBER: No decision has been made yet on the decision not to provide a £20 uplift to legacy benefits. The case was scheduled to be heard by the High Court on 28-29 September but unfortunately has now been delayed due to a lack of available judges.

A new date for the case to be heard has not been set yet, but we will update this information as soon as it has and keep you updated on what the outcome from any decision will mean once the hearing happens.

Ever since the Government provided a £20 uplift to those on Universal Credit but not legacy benefits, the Disability Benefits Consortium have been leading the campaign to #IncreaseLegacyBenefits. This week marks a major step forward in the campaign as the High Court has granted claimants of Employment Support Allowance permission to challenge the Department for Work and Pensions on their decision not to provide the same uplift as was given to people on Universal Credit.

The case is due to be decided later in the year and more details on it are available here from Osborne Law.

Anastasia Berry, Policy Manager at the MS Society and Policy Co-Chair of the DBC, says: “The High Court’s decision to hear the case is a positive step in recognising the discrimination of over 1.9 million disabled people on legacy benefits, including Employment and Support Allowance and Jobseeker’s Allowance. Being denied the same increase as those on Universal Credit since the start of the pandemic has meant many have been pushed further into poverty.

“Today’s announcement is encouraging news for the 120,000+ people who signed our ‘Don’t Leave Disabled People Behind’ petition, as well as MPs from all parties and organisations who have supported our calls, but the fight to end this discrimination hasn’t ended yet. We hope the High Court recognises the failings of the Government, and people on legacy benefits are given the £20 per week they desperately need.”

Keep an eye out for further information and updates

If not now, then when?

Caroline Collier

Inclusion Barnet’s CEO, and co-opted as a DPO member of the Disability Benefits Consortium’s steering group

They say it’s the hope that kills you.  In the days leading up to last week’s Budget, although uplifts to legacy benefits were not trailed in the pre-Budget announcements, there was the slender hope that recent campaigning might, just might, have done enough to gain Rishi Sunak’s attention.  That there might, just might, be an announcement in the Budget. 

In the end, there was nothing.  Whilst some continued support for Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit claimants, incomplete though it was, was welcome, legacy benefits – and the two-tier system current policy creates – were not addressed.  New people entering the benefits system receive a more generous arrangement than people who have been trying to survive on out-of-work benefits for years. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, raising legacy benefits was deemed too complex.  The (highly questionable) argument was that it would take too long to adapt the system.  After a year of restrictions – and extra costs for claimants – there has indisputably been plenty of time to address the issue. The best time to address this issue would have been at the start of the pandemic.  Given that this didn’t happen, the second best time to address the issue would have been last Wednesday.  Again, despite rigorous campaigning and cross-party support from the opposition, this didn’t happen.  So if not now, then when?

It’s easy to be disheartened following the Budget.  But what we know is that this is a government that U-turns in the face of public opinion.  They did it over free school meals, and they may yet do it over the 1% pay increase for nurses.  Their instinct over these issues has been wrong, but they will sometimes bow in the face of a determined campaign.  So we must not lose heart, and remain campaigners.

Our challenge is that in the decade since austerity kicked in, everyone has grown too used to disabled people being collateral damage in the national belt-tightening effort.  Individual tragedies pepper the front pages of local newspapers, officials promise to learn lessons, and yet still the chancellor is confident that the British public will countenance a system where a disabled person on Employment and Support Allowance receives £20 less a week than someone who is newly unemployed.  The difference that £20 can make to an individual’s life is well documented, by the Disability Benefits Consortium and others, and the cost is minimal in the wider picture of government spending commitments.  So this has to change.

So, in the face of this Budget, we, disabled people and our allies, must redouble our efforts.  Keep signing petitions and tweeting at Rishi Sunak, absolutely, but we also need to advocate constantly to friends, family, colleagues and our wider networks that the system needs to change.  Public opinion is the thing that needs to move, as this government clearly won’t get there on their own.  But we are the public, and we can do this.  For the sake of everyone choosing between heating and eating today, we must.  And that will be when things really change. 

Join over 121,000 people, over 100 disability organisations and cross party MPs in our campaign to end this discrimination – write to your MP today.

DBC’s response to the Chancellor’s Budget statement

The March 2021 Budget statement, delivered by the Chancellor today committed to extending the £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit for a further six months and providing a one-off payment of £500 for Working Tax Credit. However the Chancellor was silent on any additional support for the 2.5 million people on legacy benefits, the majority of whom are disabled people.

Anastasia Berry, Policy Manager at the MS Society and Policy Co-Chair of the Disability Benefits Consortium, says: “It is outrageous that over 1.9 million disabled people on legacy benefits, including Employment and Support Allowance and Jobseekers Allowance, have been refused the same financial lifeline those on Universal Credit have been getting for nearly a year. How the Chancellor can stand up and say the Government’s response to COVID-19 has been “fair, with the poorest households benefitting the most” – when so many vulnerable are having to chose between heating their homes or eating – is beyond us.

“Government excuses so far have been at best feeble, and at worst actively insulting to those being pushed further into poverty. They must give people on legacy benefits the £20 per week uplift, and end this discrimination against disabled people immediately.”

Find out more about our campaign to #IncreaseLegacyBenefits here

How the Government have continued to prop up a two-tier welfare state by ignoring 2 million people during this pandemic

Ella Abraham

Z2K’s Policy and Campaigns Officer, and Disability Benefits Consortium’s Campaigns Co-Chair

Throughout this pandemic those on legacy benefits have been denied the vital £20 per week financial lifeline that those on Universal Credit (and Working Tax Credit) have seen. The Government have refused to engage with the evidence that the almost 2 million people on legacy benefits, who are predominantly disabled, sick, or careers, need an increase in their income. This refusal means that too many legacy benefit claimants are left to choose between heating their homes, buying medication or putting warm food on the table. In a talk on Universal Credit hosted by the Resolution Foundation earlier this year, Neil Couling, Director of Universal Credit, explained the Government’s reason for ‘uplifting’ the rate of Universal Credit by £20 a week. Mr Couling said: “I wanted to help people affected by the pandemic and what I said was that meant I couldn’t create a new class of benefit claimants pre-covid and post-covid on Universal Credit, so for want of a better phrase, there was a kind of windfall gain for existing Universal Credit claimants.”

What Mr Couling is saying here is two-fold. The first is that those ‘people affected’ by the pandemic that the Government intended to help financially are the ‘new class’ of people who’ve lost their jobs. This in turn implies that the Government do not acknowledge that the almost 2 million people on legacy benefits are also ‘people affected’ financially by the pandemic as shown in a survey of 224 legacy benefit claimants by the Disability Benefits Consortium.

Yet, despite huge pressure from campaigners and cross party MPs to increase legacy benefits, the Government have resorted to repeating the same excuse that those 2 million people could move to Universal Credit to benefit from the £20 per week uplift. But the reality is, that large numbers of the 1.5 million people in the support group in Employment and Support Allowance, would lose out if they moved to Universal Credit and in turn the increase would lift a further 200,000 people out of poverty. There is also significant evidence as to the financial and emotional hardship that moving to Universal Credit causes many people, including increased foodbank usage and accumulation of rent arrears.

When we ask why legacy benefits can’t be boosted as Universal Credit has been, we’re told that changes cannot be made because the legacy benefit IT software is too difficult to change. Yet the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had the perfect opportunity last month to include an uplift as part of the annual benefit uprating. Instead, DWP chose to maintain what has become in essence a two-tier benefit system and apply to basic legacy benefits only a derisory 37p per week increase. This comes in the face of a rise in unemployment expected to be the sharpest for at least 50 years soaring to 2.6 million in 2021 and a disability employment gap of 28.4%.

Now, amidst a public health crisis, when poverty rates and the costs of essentials are rising and there is uncertainty around employment. This is not the time to be pushing people onto Universal Credit by the back door, particularly given the long-term implications of doing so. Ministers have recognised the need for an increase in benefits for those ‘people affected’ by this pandemic, now they must now do so for the 2 million left behind. No more excuses.

Join over 119,000 people, over 100 disability organisations and cross party MPs in our campaign to end this discrimination – write to your MP today.

DBC letter to Secretary of State on emergency covid-19 measures

The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), a network of over 100 organisations, have written an open letter (below) to Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to call for urgent changes to the benefits system to ensure we protect disabled and seriously unwell people from further physical and financial harm during the covid-19 emergency.

Full details of these proposals can be found in the DBC reports section.

“Dear Secretary of State,

Covid-19 – the Disability Benefits Consortium’s proposals for additional short-term measures to protect disabled people’s incomes

The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is a network of over 100 organisations with an interest in disability and social security. For our full list of members, see

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.

The DBC welcomes the recently announced measures designed to protect the incomes of large numbers of people whose livelihoods have been adversely impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. But we believe that these support measures need to go further.

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 and we are calling on the Government to produce a more comprehensive package of support, to better protect these individuals and their families, at this difficult time.

1. One of the most pressing issues is the current level of demand on the system due to the unprecedented number of new claims. This is causing extremely long waiting times and problems with the digital claims process. We welcome the commitment to expand the Department’s capacity, but the challenge remains considerable. We believe that the Government should give high priority to resolving urgently the technical and capacity issues involved.

Also, clear guidance must be made available (to the public and to staff) regarding the correct process to make both a digital claim for Universal Credit (UC) and a non-digital claim, including how the verification call is to be made – that is, if outbound from the DWP rather than inbound from the claimant.

2. The increase in the UC standard allowance is very welcome, helping to cushion the financial shock, which many will experience. However, other claimants likewise face financial challenges, especially after several years of a benefit freeze. We recommend that the Government should give a corresponding uplift of “legacy” and similar benefits – including, for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), the restoration of the Work-Related Activity Group (and UC equivalent Limited Capability for Work) addition.

3. We believe that artificial limits that keep many households (mainly with children) below basic benefit levels are particularly inappropriate at this time. We recommend that the Government should suspend the benefit cap and the “two-child policy”.

4. Any Working Tax Credit (WTC) claimant who loses their job over the coming few months will not be able to continue claiming WTC and will have to claim UC instead. This means they will lose Transitional Protection (TP). As you know, this is a temporary top-up payment that would have been added to their UC to offset any losses, when the DWP eventually transferred them from WTC – but it is not payable when you move to UC because of a change of circumstances, such as job loss.

Disabled people in work and parents of disabled children stand to lose far more than most people if they lose TP – sometimes amounting to thousands of pounds a year. This will make it even more difficult for them to recover from the economic shock of the next few months.

The recommendation above to restore the Limited Capability for Work Addition to UC will help, as long as these claimants can retain it in their UC calculation up to and after they return to work.

Also, we recommend that the lower rate of the disabled child element of UC should be restored to its level in the legacy system.

5. New claimants for UC will have to wait at least five weeks until they receive their first payment. We know that this can mean people face a significant reduction in income, leading to worry about how to pay bills and buy food. The DWP offers an “advance payment”, in effect a loan deducted from future payments, which can leave people struggling to make ends meet. We recommend that the Government should make all UC advances for disabled people non-repayable grants.

6. There has been no formal indication that work-related conditionality has been suspended, although it is difficult to see how it could be meaningfully applied in present circumstances. We recommend that the Government should explicitly suspend work-related conditionality and associated sanctions.

7. Currently, 1.3 million claimants have deductions made from their UC payments to pay debts – over half of them losing 20% or more of their basic allowance. We recommend that the Government should suspend all debt repayment deductions from UC, to ease financial hardship for the duration of the current crisis.

8. It is very important that, during this epidemic, people living with a terminal illness have swift access to benefits via the Special Rules for Terminal Illness. It is our understanding that under UC, people with a terminal illness will temporarily be able to apply via the Special Rules without the DWP needing sight of a DS1500 form (a form signed by a medical professional to say that the person has a reasonable expectation of death within six months). If this is the case, then this is a very welcome step. We recommend that the Government should extend this provision to other benefits which can be applied for under the Special Rules: ESA, Personal Independence Payment and Attendance Allowance.

There are further measures that the Government could take that are likely to have an impact on those living with a disability and in need of benefit support at this time, including:

9. As medical professionals come under more pressure over the coming weeks it is unreasonable to expect they will be able to provide medical evidence to support a claimant’s benefit application. We recommend that the Government should extend the time requirements for claimants to return paperwork and to gather medical evidence where necessary.

10. Similar pressures are likely to slow down the Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) process. This will mean people could be receiving less financial support than they are entitled to. We recommend that the Government should pay the basic/ standard rate to claimants whose benefit is suspended pending MR, until the process is completed – and also, fully reinstate a benefit that has been wholly or partly withdrawn and is awaiting MR or an appeal.

11. Help to pay council tax is also crucial at this time of acute financial pressure. We recommend that the Government should encourage Local Authorities to remove features such as the two-child policy and the self-employed claimants’ Minimum Income Floor from their local Council Tax Support/ Reduction schemes. Some have simply copied these rules automatically from DWP benefits, possibly without fully appreciating their adverse impact where claimants are struggling.

We hope that, when something like a normal life returns, the support package as outlined above, which suggests achievable and positive temporary improvements, to be introduced in response to a crisis, might prove a focus for longer-term policy discussion.

Meanwhile, we commend to the Government the above proposals to make immediate changes to complement the emergency measures already taken.

In view of the widespread public interest in the current emergency measures, we shall be releasing these proposals to the media.

Yours sincerely,

Disability Benefits Consortium”

DBC’s response to the Chancellor’s Budget statement

The March 2020 Budget statement, delivered by the Chancellor today, had two principal aspects – measures to address the impact of the coronavirus outbreak; and some considerable spending commitments, geared substantially towards infrastructure projects.

One missing dimension was the need to fix a number of problems created for benefit claimants – not least those with disabilities – by changes to the social security system through the long period of austerity.

The DBC, of course, understands the need to deal with the coronavirus threat and is aware of the importance of infrastructure projects. Nevertheless, it is disappointing that the need to repair the impact of austerity on disabled claimants has not been recognised.

The upcoming spending round must tackle the numerous problems in the benefit system. Disabled people and those with long-term health conditions should expect no less.

DBC recommendations

These were our pre-Budget recommendations to the Chancellor:

  • Build upon the end of the benefit freeze by uprating payments by 2% above inflation for four years, so as to restore the amounts lost during the freeze – and restore the link between the “Local Housing Allowance” and rents at the 30th. percentile of the market.
  • Restore the disability elements lost in the transition from “legacy benefits” to Universal Credit.
  • Review the current Personal Independence Payment assessment criteria and process, in consultation with disabled people.
  • End the 5-week wait for Universal Credit.
  • Remove sanctions on disabled people’s benefits – base policy instead on high-quality, impairment-specific employment support


Further details from:

Geoff Fimister

Tel. 07743 813740


Policy Co-Chair,

Disability Benefits Consortium

DBC’s recommendations for the 2020 Budget

The Disability Benefits Consortium has submitted a series of recommendations for this year’s Budget.

In our representation to the Treasury, the DBC called on the Government to:

  • Not only end the benefit freeze but also uprate payments above inflation so as to restore the amounts lost during the freeze.
  • Restore the disability elements lost in the transition from “legacy benefits” to Universal Credit.
  • Review the current PIP assessment criteria and process, in consultation with disabled people.
  • End the 5-week wait for Universal Credit.
  • Remove sanctions on disability benefits.

A copy of our submission can be found in the DBC reports section.

DWP ad judged dangerous to disabled people – charities demand apology

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint stating a government advert for Universal Credit is “dangerous to the health and financial security of disabled people”.

The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), a coalition of over 100 disability charities, is now demanding an apology from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Earlier this year the ASA launched a formal investigation after it received a complaint from the DBC – along with 43 others – about a DWP campaign in the Metro newspaper. Positioned as a “myth buster” on Universal Credit, the DBC argued the adverts were “misleading” and “dangerous to the health and financial security of disabled people”.

Today the watchdog upheld the complaint, agreeing that government officials had breached the advertising code when promoting supposed advantages of Universal Credit.

In its ruling, the ASA said the DWP couldn’t sufficiently substantiate its claims about Universal Credit. It said the so-called “facts” presented in the adverts were all misleading. These included claims people could move into work faster under Universal Credit, and payments could be made sooner than five weeks, as well as the promotion of “advance payments” without explaining the fact these were a loan, and came with conditions.

One member of the DBC, Z2K – an anti-poverty charity,  has today launched a campaign calling for an independent investigation into how and why the DWP approved these misleading adverts.

Jonathan Blades, External Relations Manager at the MS Society and Parliamentary Co-Chair of the DBC, said: “This ruling exposes the DWP’s indefensible attempt to provide inaccurate information to vulnerable people. The fact is that Universal Credit is leaving disabled people significantly worse off, and in some cases forcing them to turn to food banks. It’s equally disgraceful these adverts have cost the taxpayer more than £225,000, at a time when disabled people are typically losing £1,200 a year thanks to welfare system changes.

“The DWP must apologise for its actions and concentrate on fixing Universal Credit. MS is relentless, painful and disabling and benefits are crucial for people to maintain their independence. Instead, people are being pushed needlessly into debt by a government disguising loans as “advanced payments”. They need to stop messing around with misleading adverts and focus on reform – like scrapping the five week wait so people don’t need these loans in the first place.”

DBC responds to Amber Rudd statement on managed migration

On Monday, 22 July 2019, Amber Rudd announced that the Government would be laying regulations to enable the pilot of transferring existing welfare claimants onto Universal Credit (UC) to go ahead. The regulations, which were originally to be discussed in Parliament, have now been laid by negative resolution, meaning that after months of delay there will be no substantial debate in parliament of what is included in the regulations.

The announcement, and the regulations, also include a new measure to give claimants previously in receipt of the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) backdated payments of up to £405 per month alongside their Universal Credit award, up from a maximum of £360. We are seeking clarification of how these figures have been arrived at.

The DBC has long argued for a review-based approach to migrating existing benefit claimants onto UC, looking at each case individually, and therefore remains concerned by the approach taken by the Department. The DBC believes that this approach risks vulnerable claimants, including disabled people, who are not in touch with any services, falling through the cracks. Questions also remain how the Department will scale up this ‘who knows me’ approach to a national level.

Furthermore, the DBC would like to see more detail as to how the pilots will be evaluated, how the Department arrives at the compensation figures for previous SDP claimants and how the Department will address the outstanding concerns by the DBC around level of benefits available to disabled people under UC, as well as the five-week waiting period.

As outlined in our recent report ‘Has welfare become unfair?’ the introduction of Universal Credit is likely to increase levels of poverty amongst many of those reliant on this benefit for their income. The DBC will therefore continue to campaign for a better deal for disabled people.

Has welfare become unfair – a new report by the Disability Benefit Consortium

Today’s report by the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), ‘‘Has welfare become unfair – the impact of changes on disabled people” looks at the financial impact and lived experiences of welfare reform on disabled people.

Changes to the welfare system over the past ten years have left disabled adults four times worse off financially than non-disabled adults, according to new research commissioned by the Disability Benefit Consortium.

While many people who receive welfare support have experienced cuts of an average of £300 as a result of changes to the welfare system, disabled people have typically lost around £1,200 per year.

The research funded by the Three Guineas Trust and conducted by the University of East Anglia, the University of Glasgow and Landman Economics is the first comprehensive study looking specifically at the cumulative impact of welfare changes on disabled people. The research also found:

  • The more disabilities you have the more you lose out, for example someone who has six or more disabilities loses over £2,100 each year on average, whereas someone with one disability loses around £700 each year
  • Households with one disabled adult and one disabled child lose out the most, with average losses of over £4,300 per year

As part of the research, 50 people living with a variety of conditions and disabilities were interviewed about their experiences. People said that they found the application and assessment processes highly stressful, and that they did not feel trusted, and constantly challenged.

The report also states that the current system has become so complex and dysfunctional, that many disabled people have found it has had a devastating impact on their wider health and wellbeing.

You can find the full report here.

Today’s announcement by the Prime Minister

The DBC welcomes the Prime Minister’s commitment to kick-start a drive to tackle the injustices faced by disabled people. We look forward to engaging with Government on the forthcoming Green Paper focused on improving support for those receiving disability benefits, whether in or out of work. We know that many disabled people struggle to get the financial support that they need and face a complex and often confrontational benefits system that is drastically in need of reform. We hope that the Green Paper will look at how assessments and decision making can be improved and that people receive the appropriate level of financial support that tackles poverty allowing disabled people to be play a greater role in society.

DBC letter to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)

The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is a national coalition of over 80 different charities and other organisations committed to working towards a fair benefits system.

As a coalition we are writing to issue an official complaint regarding the recent advertisement campaign from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) concerning universal credit, which ran for the first time in the Metro newspaper on Wednesday 22ns May 2019.

The DWP are advertising what they call ‘Universal Credit uncovered’, a series of adverts ‘busting myths’ on Universal Credit.  According to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), you ‘work to make sure all advertising wherever it appears is legal, decent, honest and truthful’, we consider that the aforementioned DWP adverts are deliberately misleading. We believe the adverts breach the Non Broadcast Codes – in particular those regarding misleading advertising

3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.

The adverts claim it’s a “myth” that “Universal Credit doesn’t work”, adding: “fact: it does.” These statements omit the thousands of claimants universal credit does not ‘work for’ but instead has driven them into debt, rent arrears, foodbanks, and homelessness.

A joint DWP and HMRC study, which examined how tax credit claimants coped with the move to universal credit, found 60% of those who said they struggled to pay bills said their difficulties began when they moved on to the new benefit[1]. About half of those surveyed did not have sufficient savings to tide them over until they received their first payment. A few claimants endured “considerable stress” after payment delays meant they had to wait up to three months to get their money1.

The Work and Pension Select Committee report ‘Universal Credit: support for disabled people’ found that one in eight universal credit claimants do not receive their benefit on time and in full[2]. One in ten receive nothing at all on time and disabled people fare even worse as only a third of new claimants whose award includes an additional amount for disability receive payment on time and in full.

The DBC recently surveyed around 500 disabled people about their experience of Universal Credit. The survey highlights some serious concerns and deeply worrying findings. The majority of respondents who moved from employment support allowance onto universal credit said they now get less or a lot less money than they did previously. People told us that the impact of having less money includes struggling to pay for food (70%), driving a significant number of people to food banks (35%) and a worsening of people’s health, in particular their mental health (85%) and most worryingly driving people to consider suicide.

The government claim that universal credit supports you if you are on a low income or out of work. Given disabled people are struggling to get by on universal credit, to claim it works is simple misleading.

3.2 Obvious exaggerations (“puffery”) and claims that the average consumer who sees the marketing communication is unlikely to take literally are allowed provided they do not materially mislead.

A second advert says “myth: Universal Credit makes it harder to pay your rent on time.” Followed by “fact”; your Jobcentre can give you an advance payment and pay rent directly to landlords”.

In reality, the DWP will never pay an advance payment to a landlord, only directly to the client.  The wording implies an advanced payment can be paid directly to the landlord. The use of two different colours to separate the claim is inaccessible to some disabled people and will leave people wrongly believing that an advance payment can be paid directly to a landlord.

This claim also clearly implies that anyone can have their rent paid directly to the landlord.  In reality, you have to apply to the job centre for this to happen, and you have to meet certain criteria.  So, for a person on the old legacy benefits, who would have had housing benefit paid directly to the landlord, it is true that it will be harder to pay their rent on time, because they now must take responsibility for doing it themselves, which takes more planning.

The claim clearly does not distinguish between advanced payments which cannot be paid to landlords and regular payments. It also makes no distinction of whom would be eligible for direct payment and implies this option is guaranteed for everyone. This is again misleading and incorrect.

3.3 Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.

One advert says it’s a “myth” that “you have to wait 5 weeks to get any money on Universal Credit”, followed by “fact: Jobcentres can “urgently pay you an advance.” It is not clear that an advance must be paid back, the advert omits that these advances are taken out of future payments and have to be paid back over several months. This means claimants receive less money in the following months, and less money than they will have actually budgeted for. It could be misconstrued to mean it is a payment in advance instead of a payment in arrears; it is essentially a loan.

This claim also misleads the reality disabled people face when taking out the loan before receiving their payment. Given that disabled people are a key audience for universal credit this advert is clearly targeting vulnerable groups without providing the necessary clarity. One disabled person who took out the loan said:

“The full monthly payment is nowhere near adequate anyway, and now I’ve taken an advance I get even less. I’ve never been in such a financial mess and I’ve now been forced to get help from a foodbank. It felt like a walk of shame.”

Latest statistics show 840,000 people have had reduced payments as a result of taking out this loan. Of this 840,000 claims with a deduction[3]:

  • 50% (420,000 claims) had deductions up to 20% of the Standard Allowance
  • 20% (170,000 claims) had deductions between 21% and 30% of the Standard Allowance
  • 28% (238,000 claims) had deductions between 31% and 40% of their Standard Allowance
  • 1% (13,000 claims) had deductions above 40% of their Standard Allowance

The fact that people who take out this loan can then look to have 40% reductions in future benefits should have been set out clearly in the advertisement. It is not clear in the language that this payment is a loan and that taking it out can leave disabled people in a worse financial position.

The advert itself is visually misleading and inaccessible. Given the target audience is those who are out of work, many of whom will be sick or disabled, the lack of clarity that it is a DWP advertisement is disingenuous. An internal memo, reported by the Mirror, claims the lack of clarity (no logo or DWP branding) regarding this being a DWP advertisement was deliberate[4].

These are some of the most vulnerable people in society. It is a disgrace that they are being treated with such disregard. At best these adverts are accidentally misleading at worst they are knowingly dangerous to the health and financial security of disabled people.

We believe there is clear evidence that these adverts are misleading and urge the ASA to take this complaint seriously and act as quickly as possible.

We look forward to your response,

The Disability Benefits Consortium

[1] Gov UK, Transition from tax credits to Universal Credit: qualitative and quantitative research with claimants.

[2] Work and Pensions Committee, Universal Credit: support for disabled people.

[3] Universal Credit:Written question – 257147 –

[4] Mirror, ‘Fury as DWP launches taxpayer-funded ‘spin’ campaign to defend Universal Credit‘.

Universal Credit and Me

Disabled people face unavoidable costs as a result of their disability and cannot afford to lose substantial sums each year, yet under Universal Credit, the reality is that many disabled people are significantly worse off.

The five week wait is having a devastating impact on disabled people with a significant number having to wait even longer. Even once payments have been made, the lack of a disability element within Universal Credit means disabled people are struggling financially.

The DBC recently surveyed around 500 disabled people about their experience of Universal Credit. The survey highlights some serious concerns and deeply worrying findings.

The 5 week wait

The five week wait (even longer for some – 7% of people we surveyed waited over 12 weeks before receiving their first payment.) is having a significant impact on disabled people who in many cases have no other financial income, and no savings to fall back on. 30% of people told us that waiting for a payment meant they couldn’t eat. 30% told us they couldn’t heat their home. 40% of people got behind with their rent or mortgage, which for some led to eviction.

Over 30% of people we surveyed told us that waiting for their first payment had meant they were forced to use a food bank. People are falling into debt or relying on family and friends to get them though. Most worryingly, a number of people said they had considered suicide.

“I couldn’t pay my rent, so I had to move out and I tried to kill myself.” “There was a lot of stress, anger, crying. I wished I was dead.”

Many people couldn’t understand the reason for having to wait five weeks, when they had been assessed as being unable to work due to their disability or health condition.

“I am willing and planning to commit crime to get out of the debt I’m now in. I worked until I was too unwell to. I paid my taxes. I am very angry.”

“5 weeks with no income and no way to tell if or when any money will arrive is impossible. I’m down to one meal a day, my rent is late and I can’t afford my prescriptions.”

In the last few weeks, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have been running a series of newspaper advertorials to “myth-bust common inaccuracies.” The DWP state that advance payments are available to help people during the five week wait. What they fail to make clear is that these advance payments are in fact loans that have to be paid back. Disabled people who have taken out these loans are finding themselves with even more financial problems once their UC payment begins.

“The full monthly payment is nowhere near adequate anyway, and now I’ve taken an advance I get even less. I’ve never been in such a financial mess and I’ve now been forced to get help from a foodbank. It felt like a walk of shame.”

Disability premiums in the previous benefits system provided disabled people with financial support for the extra disability related costs they face. The majority of respondents who moved from ESA onto UC said they now get less or a lot less money than they did previously.

People told us that the impact of having less money includes struggling to pay for food (70%), driving a significant number of people to food banks (35%) and a worsening of people’s health, in particular their mental health (85%) and again, most worryingly driving people to consider suicide.

“I have considered suicide frequently. I’m not sure I can cope with this forever. The DWP are basically killing me.”

Despite reassurances from the government that people who have had their Severe Disability Premium removed will receive a backdated payment and those yet to claim will have transitional protection applied, people are still waiting. Even when they do receive backdated payments, it will still not cover the money they lost.

These are some of the most vulnerable people in society. It is a disgrace that they are being treated with such disregard. Our survey clearly indicates that the claims recently made by the Department for Work and Pensions in their advertising campaign are not reflective of many disabled people’s experience on the ground.  

We join with other organisations in supporting the #5WeeksTooLongCampaign calling for an end to the five week wait for Universal Credit. It is leaving many disabled people without enough money to cover the essentials. It is unnecessary and cruel.

The DBC and its members urge the government to introduce a disability element to Universal Credit, to replace the disability premiums that have been cut from the system leaving disabled people unable to afford basic essentials.  

As the Department is looking to start migrating more disabled people onto Universal Credit, we ask the Government to listen to these experiences and not only improve the claiming process, but also the financial support available to disabled people. Until these problems are resolved, the managed migration process must not be allowed to go ahead and all current transfers from old benefits to UC should be paused.

DBC statement on Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work vacancy

Conservative Vice-Chair James Cleverly has stated that former Disability Minister Sarah Newton will not be replaced until the “very difficult and turbulent” Brexit process has been resolved.

There has been growing concern at the delay (now almost three weeks) in filling this important Ministerial vacancy. With the Universal Credit roll-out constantly generating problems and ongoing issues around various disability benefit assessments and decision-making, now is not the time for a missing Minister.

The Disability Benefits Consortium fully supports the growing number of disability organisations that are calling for this crucial position to be filled as soon as possible.

DBC statement on changes to benefit system

Yesterday (5th March) Amber Rudd MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions announced proposed changes to the welfare benefits system.

A statement from the DBC is below:

“Today the Government announced a number of changes that it hopes will improve the experience disabled individuals have of the benefit system. These include the proposal that those over pension age will no longer automatically undergo a PIP reassessment, and bringing the WCA and PIP assessment together to reduce the burden on individuals. In addition, the Government also said that it was trialling a new approach to work-related requirements, starting with no conditionality and then building from there.

The target for getting disabled people into employment may also be made more ambitious, and research is to be commissioned into claimants’ experiences.

The DBC welcomes the change of tone and approach that these announcements present, in particular exempting those over pension age from reassessment for PIP. However, the devil is as always in the detail and while combining the WCA and PIP assessments has some advantages, it must be combined with radical improvements in the standard of assessments and decision-making as well as willingness to look at how the assessment criteria can be changed to ensure that it will improve the situation for claimants. 

We now call on the Government to work with the disability sector to ensure that any changes made address the issues raised by the sector for many years.”

DBC responds to Baroness Buscombe’s comments on sector support for managed migration


14th January 2019

Dear Secretary of State,

Re: Universal Credit Managed Migration

Following recent comments in the House of Lords, we write to clarify and emphasise the view of the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) (which represents over 80 disability organisations) as regards the managed migration process.

The “70 stakeholders” referred to by Baroness Buscombe in the debate on 8 January (Lords Hansard, cols. 2123-4) include a number of DBC members. We are therefore concerned that Baroness Buscombe’s comment – “Why do 70 different stakeholders want to work with us if they condemn what we are trying to achieve?” – seems to imply that these stakeholders support the “stop-start” approach that currently characterises the managed migration proposals. This is not the case and we are disappointed at this suggestion.

The view taken by the DBC and its members has clearly and consistently been that:

a.) we believe there should be an orderly transition whereby existing legacy benefit claims are converted to UC claims through a review process (we do not accept that this is not possible); and

b.) failing this, we will nevertheless work with the DWP to try to minimise the problems of stop-start and maximise the number of claimants able to transfer without mishap.

Clearly, this willingness to engage does not imply that we support stop-start. We do not, and shall continue to press for an orderly, review-based approach. Meanwhile, we hope to get as near to this as possible in ongoing discussions with the Department.

I hope this serves to clarify our approach. We are making this letter public, so as to help dispel any misapprehension regarding the DBC’s position on these matters.

Yours faithfully,

Signed by co-Chairs of the Disability Benefits Consortium:

Anastacia Berry – MS Society

Beatrice Barleon – Royal Mencap Society

Geoff Fimister – Thomas Pocklington Trust

Hannah West – Motor Neurone Disease Association

Katie Lee-Hall– MS Society

Rob Holland – Royal Mencap Society


cc Baroness Buscombe


DBC responds to Amber Rudd statement on UC

The DBC welcomes today’s confirmation that the Government is intending to take time to get the migration process for Universal Credit right.

However, if they intend to achieve this, we believe there will need to be a change of approach. We urge the Government to move away from the “sink or swim” approach to “managed migration” still currently proposed. We would like to see an orderly changeover through a review of existing benefit awards.

Ideally, too, all current transfers from old benefits to Universal Credit should be paused while problems are fixed.

The Government must now focus on how it can support people through this process so that no one falls through the safety net.

The Secretary of State has clearly indicated that she wants to address some of the deep concerns that have been raised in relation to UC. We therefore urge her to also address the cuts to disability benefits that are inherent to UC. These cuts are already a source of extreme concern so everything must be done to ensure people are not left worse off.

DBC response to Work and Pensions Committee report on Universal Credit

19 December 2018

The DBC welcomes the Committee’s report which confirms the disability sector’s concerns with Universal Credit and the potentially disastrous consequences for disabled people if the Government gets the transition to UC wrong.

The DBC has long argued that the cuts to the disability premiums must be reversed and that disabled claimants, who have not yet undergone a Work Capability Assessment must have their disability recognised in what the work coaches require them to do, and in the payments they receive.

The DBC has also long warned of the ‘sink or swim’ approach of managed migration proposed by the Government.

In line with the Committee the DBC is therefore calling on the Government to do much more to ensure that the migration process is indeed an orderly transition and that disabled people are pro-actively supported through the process and nobody will lose their benefits as a result of migrating to UC.

DBC statement on Universal Credit Managed Migration regulations

Today (5th November) the Government has laid regulations concerning ‘managed migration’.

A statement from the DBC is below:

“DBC is pleased that Ministers have listened to the serious concerns raised by the disability sector over ‘managed migration’ and have taken action to address some of these.

We welcome the Secretary of State’s desire to work with claimants and charities to improve the process as well as the announcement that disabled people will have a longer time to make a Universal Credit claim before their legacy benefits are terminated.

 However, the ‘stop start’ approach remains and large numbers could still fall through the gaps. We would like to see an orderly process of migration, whereby claimants remain on their “legacy benefits” until a UC claim is in place

 Furthermore, much work is needed to ensure that the application process is accessible and appropriate support is available to complete what is a very complex process.

Finally, the Government cannot escape the fact that close to a million disabled people will be worse off on UC by more than £200 a month despite the measures announced in the budget and we would like to see these losses reversed.”

DBC’s comment on the Spring Budget 2023

Anastasia Berry, Policy Co-Chair of the Disability Benefits Consortium and Policy Manager at the MS Society, says: 
“Today’s Budget contains some of the biggest changes to disability benefits seen in a decade. The scrapping of the Work Capability Assessment, seen by many as stressful and unnecessary, will be seen as a positive. However, its removal confirms many of disabled people’s worst fears, that in future more people will be forced into inappropriate work-related activity or face the threat of losing their financial support.

“These changes will mean Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments will become the only way for disabled people to receive disability benefits. Yet PIP is a broken system which often denies support to those who need it by putting unnecessary barriers, like the 20 metre rule, in the way. Without reform, the assessments will leave many terrified about the prospect of losing all their disability benefits in the midst of a cost of living crisis if their claim is unsuccessful.  

“The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) talk about trust, but if they push ahead with these plans, they risk diminishing trust even further.  The DWP must remove the threat of losing benefits by improving PIP assessments. Also, employers should face more formal requirements which would remove barriers for disabled people looking for and already in work, rather than forcing disabled people to enter work. And to truly reform the benefits system they must urgently raise benefits rates.”