DR UK writes to Minister for Disabled People to press for £20 week increase to ESA

Tue,23 June 2020
News Benefits

Following a recent roundtable meeting with the Minister for Disabled people Justin Tomlinson, DR UK has written to further  raise extending the £20 week Universal Credit increase to ESA.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government announced an temporary emergency increase of £20 a week for both Universal Credit (and working tax credit). 

DR UK welcomes this increase. However, by restricting it to Universal Credit, it discriminates against the millions of disabled people on other benefits who have not received the same increase.

In our letter, we say:

“Disabled people are experiencing additional costs and risks as a result of COVID-19, but are without the extra support they need to manage these.  For example, paying for a taxi to go and collect their medication because public transport is too unsafe. They are having to put themselves at risk by going to their local shop because they can't afford the minimum spend needed to get a free food delivery.

A Disability Benefit Consortium (DBC) April 2020 survey of over 200 disabled people found that:

  • nearly all (95%) had seen an increase in their costs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 92% said that they were struggling with additional food costs.

Most respondents said that getting an extra £20 a week would make a real difference to them. In this current health emergency, no-one should be having to choose between eating or washing, or be unable to afford the medications they need to stay well.

The DBC has recently written to the Chancellor on this issue and a petition supporting the extended £20 week increase has so far attracted over 115,000 signatures,

In addition, the SSAC has recently written to the Secretary of State For Work and Pensions stating that is  “of the strong view that it is increasingly untenable for this group of claimants to be excluded and to continue to have a lower level of income than those in receipt of Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit”.

The SSAC recommends that a way is found to ensure that this group of claimants - "that includes some of the least well off" - are brought up to the same level as those in receipt of Universal Credit as soon as it is possible to do so and that, on “grounds of equity”, consideration should be given to backdating that uplift to 6 April 2020.

We would ask:

  • if you could confirm why ESA was not increased in line with Universal Credit (particularly in light of the removal of the work-related activity component of ESA);
  • if any monitoring of ESA claimants has taken place to see if the increase is needed and should be awarded.”

In addition, our letter raises concerns as to the clearance time for decisions for PIP claims and the time taken for decisions on PIP mandatory reconsideration requests.

Read DR UK’s letter to the Minister for Disabled People.

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