One of the great claims of the supporters of Universal Credit at it was rolled out around the country, was that it would target those in greatest need…
Well…NewsFlash…it has…but it may not come as a great surprise to you, it hasn’t been in a good way.
Although I’ve mentioned this in passing – I’ve been particularly focused on the unacceptable 42, come February 35 day delay between the application for Universal Credit and receiving any money – people with the most severe disabilities have borne the brunt of the most massive cuts of austerity.
We hear that Universal Credit is crunching 6 benefits into one – we’re told that this simplified the system.
In that process, a little known benefit, Severe Disability Allowance, has simply vanished.
This means that the folk who were previously defined as having the most severe disabilities in our society have had £62.45 a week cut from their income – that’s £124.90 for a couple.
That works out at a cut of £3247.40 a year for individuals and £6494.80 for couples.
We’re not all in this together
Tragically, this is the tip of a particularly pernicious iceberg.
People who are reliant on benefits have also been hit with the ‘spare room subsidy’ – the bedroom tax – where they lose 14% of their housing benefit for 1 empty room in their home and 25% for 2 or more.
The average rent in the UK in 2017 was £908 per month – so that’s a tax of our poorest people of around £2724 a year.
This is when there are no alternatives available – so this is has been little more than a straight cut in their income. With no meaningful choice, peole have been forced to pay the top up directly from their disability benefits.
And there’s more..
There’s been a further shift in disability benefits…disability living allowance has been transformed into the new…improved…personal independence payment (PIP)…
When I say new and improved, I mean the government have taken this opportunity to lop more money from people’s incomes.
Folk with mental health problems who’ve applied for, or who’ve been transferred over to the new benefit have found it rather physical – centric.
Thousands of people with mental health problems have lost the mobility component of their disability benefit, because there’s nowhere to shoehorn their needs into the astonishingly restrictive forms.
This means that many folk in this group have lost a further £22.00, possibly £58.00 per week.
That’s a further cut of between £1,144 and £3,016 a year – purely because of a failing in the assessment process.
Add to that the current freeze in benefits, which is basically a further 4% cut in people’s incomes…
I’m so tempted to dive into the cuts into services – local and national – here, but this is clearly enough.
The next time you hear a politician or representative of the department of work and pensions declaring that we’re targeting our most disabled people in our benefits system, ask for a bit of clarification. I’m fairly sure they don’t want you to know that we’ve cut the incomes of thousands of people with disabilities and/ or mental health problems by up to £8987.40 a year.
In other news…I started eating again today…puréed pears…but after going through the above financial shenanigans, it feels like that’s paling into insignificance..
Walk a Mile