Disability Rights UK promotes petition to increase disability benefits

By agency reporter
April 29, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government announced an temporary emergency increase of £20 a week in both Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits. 

Although Disability Rights UK (DR UK) welcomes this increase, it says that by doing so, the Government is discriminating against the millions of disabled people on other benefits who have not received the same increase.

DR UK  – with over 100 other charities and other organisations as part of the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC)  – has launched a petition calling on Government to extend this emergency increase to all benefits immediately, on the grounds that anything else would be discriminatory. 

Alongside the petition, supported by MPs and the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, the DBC released results of an April 2020 survey of over 200 disabled people which found nearly all (95 per cent) had seen an increase in their costs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, 92 per cent 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 said they are 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.”

Ken Butler DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Adviser said: "Even before the COVID-19 crisis, benefit cuts and austerity hit disabled people the hardest.

"The £20 week temporary increase to Universal Credit and tax credits is welcome but should be made permanent.

"It should also properly be extended to those on ‘legacy benefits’ such as ESA. In addition, the Work-Related Activity Group and UC equivalent Limited Capability for Work addition should be restored."

DR UK urges people to sign the petitlon demanding that the Government stop leaving disabled people behind. 

“It would mean not having to skip meals” – the emergency need to #IncreaseDisabilityBenefits can be downloaded here

* Disability Benefits Consortium https://disabilitybenefitsconsortium.wordpress.com/

* Disability Rights UK https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/

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