Families with disabled children could stand to lose up to £28 per week under the proposed benefits overhaul, according to a new report.
If you or anyone in your family is disabled, you’re probably more than a little concerned about today’s news that up to 100,000 families could lose out in the new Universal Credit benefits system proposed by the government.
Conducted by The Children’s Society, Citizens Advice and Disability Rights, the report says these families could see their incomes reduced by £28 per week under the new system.
Families affected said they’re worried the benefit cuts would mean they wouldn’t be able to keep up with their monthly debts and payments, and would no longer be able to pay for their home or would need to cut back on food. Even scarier: some families said they’d be so severely impacted that they may need to put their disabled children into full-time residential care.
So what is Universal Credit and is it really a good thing?
Universal Credit is essentially a complete overhaul of the benefits system in the UK, which will come into effect next year. It aims to make the benefits system much simpler – a welcome change so far!
How would this happen? Basically, Universal Credit would merge lots of different benefits into one overall payment. It will replace Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, and Employment and Support Allowance.
Read our Universal Credit FAQ for more information.
The government has promised that no one will be worse off under the new system, and benefit claims would be managed online making life a bit simpler for everyone.
The plot thickens
So far so good. But what today’s report shows is that up to half a million disabled people and their families would actually be worse off under the new system. The impact is said to be “extremely severe” for those families currently receiving the ‘care component’ of the Disability Living Allowance, which is a benefit received if a child is severely disabled but doesn’t need overnight care.
What does this mean in real terms? Janet is a single mum of 10 year-old Jack, who has autism. She currently receives Disability Living Allowance, but under Universal Credit would lose £28 a week – meaning her weekly family income would drop from £231 to £203, and she’d need to cut back on essentials.
The Children’s Society’s Chief Executive, Matthew Reed, said: “This enquiry 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 groups behind the report are urging ministers to reconsider plans, but the government has said the report is “highly selective”.
If you could be affected we’d like to hear from you. Email [email protected]