Thousands of disabled people could be refused benefits
Thousands of disabled people and those living with mental health conditions could be denied benefits under Universal Credit if they do not go looking for work.
New research suggests proposed changes made by the Department for Work and Pensions [DWP] will introduce tougher guidelines to qualify for financial support.
According to Z2K charity, around 230,000 people living with severe physical disabilities will not be entitled to any additional universal credit on the figures obtained from the Office for Budget Responsibility [OBR].
On top of that, an extra 141,000 people struggling with their mental health will be denied benefits by 2029 which Z2K warns could put them at “substantial harm” if they are forced into a working environment.
However, the new legislation will only apply to those making new claims, not those already in receipt of disability benefits.
Anela Anwar, chief executive of Z2K, told The Big Issue: “The DWP plans to deny support to hundreds of thousands of people who fall ill or become disabled after next year. This would be devastating for people looking for support because their health or disability has stopped them being able to work. And these figures show that more than 140,000 people would be at substantial risk of harm.
“Seriously ill and disabled people need security and support, not sanctions, cuts and high-stakes assessments. Government should focus on the reasons increasing numbers of people are ill and can’t return to work – not removing vital protections that any of us could need in the future.”
Universal Credit includes the limited capability for work and work-related activity [LCWRA] element, entitling successful claimants to £390.06 a month, this will be replaced by a new health element, but will only be eligible to those claiming personal independence payment [PIP].
Furthermore the LCWRA 'mobilising activity’, currently awarded to people with severe mobility difficulties claiming universal credit, is set to be removed.
A spokesperson for the DWP said: “We support millions of people every year and our priority is to provide a supportive service and help claimants get the benefits they are entitled to. We must balance welfare support with fairness to the taxpayer, and all requirements are agreed with the claimant to ensure that they are reasonable.
“Our upcoming work capability assessment reforms will shift the focus to what people can do rather than what they can’t whilst maintaining protections for those with the most significant health conditions.”
Ministers have explained since the pandemic there has been more opportunities to work remotely, but campaigners argue that many companies are not flexible enough to provide this option.
[ The employment rate of disabled people is 53%. Compared to 82% of non-disabled people. ]