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Report 'lifts the lid' on Universal Credit

19 October 2012

GAVIN DRAKE

Making a splash: the Team GB Paralympian gold-medal-winning swimmer Ellie Simmonds arrives to re-name the swimming pool at her former school, Cooper and Jordan C of E Primary School, in Walsall, a fortnight ago

Making a splash: the Team GB Paralympian gold-medal-winning swimmer Ellie Simmonds arrives to re-name the swimming pool at her former school, Cooper...

UP TO half-a-million disabled people and their families will be worse off under government plans to replace the benefits system with a Universal Credit, a new report suggests.

An inquiry led by Baroness Grey-Thompson, and supported by the Children's Society, Citizens Advice, and Disability Rights UK, found evidence that:

• 100,000 disabled children could lose up to £28 a week;

• 116,000 working disabled people could lose up to £40 per week;

• one in ten families with disabled children fear losing their homes;

• four out of five disabled adults living alone, or with a young carer, would cut back on food, and a similar number on heating.

The report, Holes in the Safety Net: The impact of Universal Credit on disabled people and their families, also suggests that young carers would face increased burdens as a result of changes to the Severe Disability Premium.

"The findings of this report do not make easy reading," Lady Grey-Thompson said. "The clear message is that many households with disabled people are already struggling to keep their heads above water. Reducing support for families with disabled children, disabled people who are living alone, families with young carers, and disabled people in work, risks driving many over the edge in future."

The chief executive of the Children's Society, Matthew Reed, said: "This inquiry has lifted the lid on the stark reality that many disabled people will face when the new benefits system comes into force. While it is true that some people will be better off under Universal Credit, it is shocking that so many disabled people - including children - will have to cut back on food, specialist equipment, and, in some cases, be forced to move out of their homes or consider moving their child into full- time residential care."

The report makes several recommendations, including protecting children on the middle-rate care component of Disability Living Allowance and providing disability support in the Universal Credit for disabled people who can work but are disadvantaged in the workplace. The new credit comes into effect next autumn.

The chief executive of Disability Rights UK, Liz Sayce, said: "We are fearful that the government aim of ensuring work always pays appears to be undermined by some aspects of Universal Credit proposals which could price some disabled people out of work and deeper into poverty."

Lady Grey-Thompson told the BBC on Wednesday: "The Government say people are protected, but it's only for current benefit claimants. What we want to do is ask the Government to think again. The regulations of the Welfare Reform Bill are coming to us soon and we can make changes."

Letter

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