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Disabled will be worse off, report says

20 July 2012

SHUTTERSTOCK

THE Government has defended its changes to support for disabled people after a coalition of charities published a report arguing that "tens of thousands of disabled adults and children" would be "much worse off" as a result of the move to the universal credit next year.

Disability and Universal Credit, by the Children's Society, Disability Rights UK, and the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), expresses concern that "the scale of the cuts in support for some groups of disabled people has not yet been properly understood, because the changes have been viewed in isolation."

It outlines five scenarios that show how financial support for some familes is likely to change after the introduction of the new benefit, which brings together a range of benefits and credits. For example, support for families with a disabled child will be cut from £57 to £28 a week (unless the child is receiving the higher rate of the care component of the Disability Living Allowance, or is registered blind).

For parents with high child-care costs, the more paid work they do, the more they will lose, although those who can work without incurring child-care costs will be better off, the report suggests.

The Government estimates that about 2.8 million households will gain financially from the move to universal credit, and about two million will lose out. Existing claimants will be provided with "transitional protection" to ensure that they will not face cash losses, it says.

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said on Friday: "The present system of disability support is a tangled mess of premiums and add-ons, which is highly prone to error, and baffling for disabled people themselves. The universal credit will deliver a simpler and fairer system, with higher payments for the most severely disabled people, and improved support for carers.

"The CAB report is highly selective, and ignores large numbers of people who will gain from the new support and who have welcomed these changes. This includes families who will get help with child-care costs for the first time, paying a higher rate of support for all children who are registered blind, and increased financial support for the disabled people who face the most serious barriers to supporting themselves through work."

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