Universal Credit is paid to millions of claimants each year, replacing the previous benefits system with one payment. The system is constantly being changed, but one change may see thousands miss out in the months to come.
Those claiming Severe Disability Payment (SDP) who have been switched over to Universal Credit had been receiving a transitional payment.
This was to compensate for the lack of the SDP under Universal Credit.
However, from Thursday, October 8, instead of this being a separate payment, it will be included in claimants overall Universal Credit payment.
This means it will no longer be “ringfenced”, and so the amount is therefore subject to erosion.
If a claimant’s UC entitlement increases – for example if their rent increases, or their condition worsens – the transitional SDP element will decrease correspondingly.
Disability equality charity Scope has detailed how this is concerning, as premiums are not a luxury.
Premiums for these claimants are there to cover the extra costs disabled people face of more than £580 a month on average.
This means, for Universal Credit assessments made on or after October 8, 2020, for anyone entitled to a Transitional SDP Payment it will be treated as a ‘Transitional Element’ when their Maximum UC award is assessed.
As of January 2020, there were at least 15,000 people being paid SDP transitional payments who could be affected by this change.
The SDP Gateway is due to end in January 2021.
After this, claimants who receive SDP on ESA, and would have previously been prevented from claiming UC, will be entitled to the transitional payment.
But it will be automatically treated as the transitional element and so subject to erosion, as outlined above.
Ceri Smith, head of policy and campaigns at disability equality charity Scope, told Express.co.uk: “This change shows just how hugely complex, unfair and inconsistent our welfare system is.
“Life costs more for disabled people. Disability premiums aren’t a luxury, they help cover those extra costs, and should never have been cut out of the welfare system under Universal Credit.
“Transitional protection was supposed to stop disabled people from losing out if they’d moved on to Universal Credit.
“Yet this loophole will mean disabled people being penalised because of changes out of their control, such as their rent increasing, or their health deteriorating.
“This is another example of why disabled people have lost trust, and feel overwhelmed and lost in a welfare system they feel is set up against them.
“Now more than ever, we need a welfare system which supports rather than punishes.
“We want the government to act urgently to fix our fundamentally-flawed welfare system so it works for disabled people, not against them.
“The long-awaited Welfare Green Paper will be a chance to correct these injustices.”