Head of the Department for Work and Pensions Amber Rudd today announced several changes to Universal Credit, including the protection of claimants receiving the Severe Disability Premium.
Rudd also officially confirmed the previously reported news that she was going to halt the rollout of Universal Credit to current claimants, with a vote being put forward to allow her powers to undertake a pilot study of 10,000 claimants who will be observed during the migration onto the Universal Credit system, which she believes will allow her party to understand how they can better facilitate the transition onto the new system.
The announcement regarding the Severe Disability Premium, an additional benefit paid to disabled people living independently that aims to help cover the additional costs faced by disabled people who do not receive support from a carer, will come into force on 16 January, which will prevent a vote in the Commons regarding this.
Charity Mind however has expressed a mixed response to the news, noting that while they were pleased with the protections, many disabled people will not be subject to the coverage.
Chief Executive Paul Farmer said: “These protections will be crucial for thousands of disabled people, including many people with mental health problems and so we are pleased they will come into force next week as planned. However there are thousands more people with mental health problems who are not covered by these protections and who still stand to see their income drop significantly if they need to claim Universal Credit through a change in circumstances. The Government must pledge to end these hidden cuts and put protections in place for everyone facing the stressful move to UC.”
They added: “Today’s announcement gives the Government a chance to avert catastrophe when it comes to moving millions of people over to Universal Credit (UC) but still does not yet address fundamental problems. The Secretary of State clearly acknowledged that responsibility for getting this right rests with the Government, and not with individuals who have already been found eligible for benefits after going through a rigorous and bewildering assessment.”Get your copy of UNITE Magazine