DR UK warns Severe Disability Premium claimants to ‘seek robust advice’, as UC changes take effect

Tue,26 January 2021
News Benefits

From Wednesday 27 January a two-year moratorium on moving people who claim Severe Disability Premiums (SDPs) to Universal Credit (UC) has come to an end.  

This means that people on the old-style benefits can now choose to move to the new UC if they so choose, but some will be moved over due to a “change of circumstances”, such as moving house or changing relationship status. The changes affect half a million people.

Despite Ministers repeatedly saying most people will end up better off under the changes, charities are aware of a number of people who will end up worse off as a result of shifting over to UC.

SDP claimants who move to UC get monthly transition payments of £120, £285 or £405 - but these will now change if a claimant is awarded a new or larger element of another part of UC (such as housing benefit).

It is impossible for claimants to work out what the shifts in their income will be in real terms without going through the process of actually declaring changes and being awarded the potentially different sums, for better or worse.

DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “SDPs are essential for covering the costs that Disabled people face to enable us to live independent lives. Adaptations and disability aids come at a premium, and these benefits help to cover those additional costs.

“It is unacceptable that they were allowed to fluctuate under the Universal Credit system instead of being ringfenced.

“Not knowing how much money people will have causes increased stress and anxiety. Disabled people are already under the most stress and risk during the pandemic. We could do without this major change right now.

“Therese Coffey, Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions is urging people to switch to UC. We would strongly urge people to seek robust advice before switching. If people choose to switch to UC, there is no going back.”