Hannah Deakin says the government, which shifts claimants from “legacy benefits” to the Universal Credit system, could easily backfire on disabled claimants
Image: Hannah Deakin)
A with special needs Woman fears she will be worse off as millions of people switch from so-called ‘legacy benefits’ to Universal Credit.
The government resumed its program to resettle Britons this week on Universal Credit from older achievements .
These include the Earnings-Contingent Employment and Assistance Allowance (ESA) and the Jobseeker’s Allowance, tax credits social assistance and housing benefit.
This advantages will eventually be phased out as part of a conservative plan to replace them with a benefit – universal credit.
Many benefit recipients fear that they will get less as a result.
One such applicant with worries about the future is Hannah Deakin, 31, a financial manager who works 10 hours a week.
Deakin, a wheelchair user, is currently receiving ESA and Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
She said: “It’s another uncertain stress as I don’t know if I’ll be better or worse and if I’ll have enough money to live on. As a disabled person, the cost of living is already much higher.
“It would be reassuring to know, but right now I don’t know. I’ve tried talking to a lot of people but no one really seems to know if I’m going to get worse or better.”
Deakin said disability benefit beneficiaries are fortunate to have special benefits such as ESA and PIP.
She added: “It helps a lot, but I think it could be improved a lot and made easier to understand and access.
“I think the move from DLA to PIP has caused a lot of stress and anxiety and trauma for many disabled people and their families. The whole situation seemed to be rather badly handled. I hope the government has learned from this.
“I think a tapering system would potentially work to encourage people to work if they are able, but not make them worse off. But at the same time not punishing those who cannot work because of their disabilities or illness.”
Deakin added that having special benefits for people with disabilities is better than the single credit system.
She said: “I think it’s better to have a separate disability benefit like ESA, rather than lumping together all the unemployed who have very different needs and reasons for being unemployed.
“I found negotiating the performance system challenging, a struggle and a struggle. When you become disabled you know nothing and have to navigate this complex system.”
Deakin said she fears “there will be even bigger struggles” as disabled people switch to Universal Credit, especially if government workers don’t consider their needs.
She added: “I worry that since Universal Credit is for the unemployed in general and not the disabled and chronically ill, I might be pushed into working more when it’s too much for me right now.”
James Taylor, director of strategy at disability equality charity Scope, said: “This is a bad move at a terrible time when hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities are in the firing line. This means that as costs increase, support decreases.
“By moving to Universal Credit, the value of the severe disability premium will decrease over time – while rising living and energy costs put more pressure on disabled people.
“People who receive the severely disabled supplement sometimes have the greatest need for support and additional costs. In addition to the five-week Universal Credit waiting period, those affected could be penalized for changes beyond their control, such as E.g. rent increases or deterioration in their health.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/disabled-woman-fears-facing-bigger-26938698 Disabled woman fears she will face 'bigger battles' after being forced to switch to Universal Credit