The latest information about disability benefits and how they will affect disabled people during the COVID-19 pandemic have been announced.
SOME DISABLED CLAIMANTS COULD BE THOUSANDS WORSE OFF
The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) has pointed out to the government that a £20 a week increase in universal credit will not apply to claimants of legacy benefits such as ESA and tax credits.
This is in spite of the fact that legacy benefit claimants are facing the same financial challenges as everyone else, even more so in many cases because of the effect of years of frozen benefits.
In addition, disabled workers who lose their jobs in the coming months because of an economic downturn will have no transitional protection (TP) when they are obliged to claim UC.
As the Consortium points out:
“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 DBC are calling for a range of extra measures to help disabled claimants, including the restoration of the Work-Related Activity Group (and UC equivalent Limited Capability for Work) addition.
Sadly, there is no indication that the government is listening.
SCOTTISH BENEFITS CHANGES POSTPONED
As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, the Scottish government is to postpone changes to benefits which had the potential to make life easier for disabled claimants.
The introduction of Child Disability Payment and the Scottish replacement for Personal Independence Payment, as well a new method of decision making which is aimed at ending face to face assessments, have all been put on hold.
No new date has yet been set for their creation, but a statement should be made in late summer 2020 giving an update.
CARERS ALLOWANCE CHANGES
Temporary changes to carer’s allowance rules were announced last week by the DWP as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Carers will be able to continue to claim carer’s allowance if they have a temporary break in caring because they, or the person they care for, gets coronavirus or if they have to isolate because of it. Under normal rules there are restrictions on breaks in care, but these have been lifted.
Providing emotional support, rather than just more traditional forms of care, will also now count towards the carer’s allowance threshold of 35 hours of care a week.
BENEFIT OVERPAYMENT RECOVERY SUSPENDED
Some claimants will see a temporary increase in their benefits payments because the DWP have suspended the recovery of benefits overpayments for three months from last week.
Deductions for the recovery of universal credit and legacy benefit overpayments, social fund loans and tax credit debts are being paused.
The DWP say that the majority of deductions will be suspended automatically.
Recovery of overpayments by private sector debt collection agencies have also been suspended.
However, the DWP is continuing to recover advance payments of universal credit.