The cruelty of Universal Credit

Linda writes for us about her concerns about current changes and cuts to benefits and their impact on disabled people.

Disabled People know about the cruelty involved in conditionality in Universal Credit. However in spite of all the warnings about the dire impact of this flawed and spiteful benefit, in spite of rapidly rising child poverty and homelessness, the despicable Tories are pushing ahead, rolling it out across the country.

Universal Credit replaces six benefits – Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance and Working Tax Credit.

Seven million households will be affected, including over one million low paid, part-time workers. For the first time ever people in work could face having their benefits stopped if they don’t prove to the job centre that they’re searching for better paid work or more hours.

For disabled people there are many problems including the fact that UC is claimed and managed entirely digitally, which is difficult or impossible for many disabled people. Any mistakes on the form will likely lead to loss of benefit or a claim being disallowed.

Further, there are massive cuts to the amount of benefit paid to severely disabled people as the Severe and Enhanced Disability Premiums have been scrapped. This means single disabled people lose over £2,000 per annum and a disabled couple over £4,000 per annum.

Many disabled people work part-time or are self employed yet under UC both of these options will become more difficult to continue with.

Mental health claimants are particularly at risk of coercion under UC as part of the Health and Work Programme we are seeing the use of the DWP nudge unit and psycho compulsion.

Nearly 400 people in the UK died from malnutrition or hunger in 2015, up 27% from 2008, and Victorian diseases such as rickets and scurvy have returned. Even diabetic people whose lives depend on having a food supply have been sanctioned and left without money for food or electricity to keep their insulin safely. Several diabetic people have died or, depending on your viewpoint, been deliberately killed.

DPAC, the TUC Disabled Workers’ Committee and Unite the Union agree that Universal Credit is too flawed to tweak and must be stopped and scrapped. We hope that PCS and its members will also support this stance.

To find out more about what DPAC does and to get involved, visit their website or follow them on Twitter @Dis_PPL_Protest.

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