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Disabled people are going without essentials

picture of somebody in a wheelchair
picture of somebody in a wheelchair Image credit: independent.co.uk

A survey has found disabled people are going without vital medication, heating and food because they can’t afford essentials through the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Disability Benefits Consortium two-thirds of individuals claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Carers Allowance have gone without everyday necessities for the past ten months.

Whilst people on Universal Credit will receive a £20-a-week rise those on ESA and Carers Allowance will only be 35p better off each week.

David Allen, 62, has Multiple Sclerosis, he told the Disability Benefits Consortium: "I find myself sitting in the dark more than I should so as not to turn the lights on for too long.

"I live on my own so it's hard not to think your world is closing in around you.”

According to the Pandemic Poverty report 82% of people were forced to spend more on utility bills, food shopping and taxi fares, whilst 44% were unable to pay their household bills, mortgage and rent.

Ella Abraham from Z2K and the DBC said the “two-tier discriminatory welfare state has pushed a huge number of people into poverty."

A Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to supporting disabled people through every stage of this pandemic and have worked hard to provide uninterrupted access to disability benefits and further financial support - making £1.3 billion available to local authorities to help address pressures on local services including adult social care.

“That’s in addition to wider support including our £280billion investment to safeguard jobs, boost welfare support and help families through the winter.”

This week charities raised concerns Universal Credit claimants could receive a one-off £1,000 payment and their benefit will be slashed by £20 a week.

Laura Peters from Rethink Mental Illness the Commons Work and Pensions Committee: “For some people where overspending might be a symptom of their mental illness, for example people with bipolar disorder, there’s a real risk they could receive that lump sum at a point where they would be at risk of spending it in ways that it’s not sensible.

“Often mental health problems can coexist with substance abuse problems.

“There’s a real risk that a lump sum could actually even cause somebody to relapse into a substance abuse problem.

“There are very particular risks for people with mental ill health in terms of a lump sum.”

A spokesperson for debt charity StepChange warned the one-off payment could see claimants “swallowed-up” in debt.

The Government have no confirmed there will be any changes with Universal Credit, although some may be announced in the Budget.