Universal Credit: MPs vote in support of payment increase
Universal Credit, the six-in-one benefits system, is being rolled out across the UK. An important change relating to some benefits claimants will come into effect tomorrow.
From Wednesday, the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) gateway will come to an end.
The SDP is an extra amount which is paid with certain legacy benefits to claimants who meet a certain criteria.
The SDP gateway, which has been in place since January 2019, was put in place to prevent claimants from experiencing financial loss.
This is because disability premiums do not exist within Universal Credit, and claimants who naturally migrate onto Universal Credit, in most cases, do not receive transitional protection.
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It means, from tomorrow, disabled people who claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and receive the Severe Disability Premium – a group with some of the highest support needs and extra costs – will have to move to Universal Credit if they have a relevant change in circumstances.
Examples of this include moving house to a different local authority area.
Up until now, SDP recipients have not been able to move to Universal Credit, meaning they wouldn’t lose the premiums.
However, these have now been replaced with a transitional element.
The charity Scope has pointed out that this isn’t ring-fenced in the same way as premiums, hence there’s a risk it could erode.
Recipients have also been issued a warning regarding any potential move to Universal Credit.
This is because they would need to go through the five-week waiting period to get their first Universal Credit payment.
However, these people should continue to get their old benefit for two weeks after they submit their Universal Credit claim.
It is possible to apply for an advance during this time frame, however this must be paid back, beginning out of the first payment.
Louise Rubin, head of policy and campaigns at disability equality charity Scope, said: “In this gruelling winter lockdown, when emergency support is desperately needed, many disabled people are instead facing more anxiety and uncertainty over their finances because of this poorly-timed change.
“This change affects people who receive the severe disability premium, a group with some of the highest support needs and extra costs.
“On top of facing the senseless five-week wait for Universal Credit, those affected will now be penalised because of changes out of their control such as their rent increasing, or their health deteriorating.
“Disability premiums aren’t a luxury, they help cover the extra costs disabled people face.
“They should never have been cut out of the welfare system under Universal Credit.
“Many who are shielding at home and facing spiralling energy costs now face the permanent threat of their vital premiums being eroded.
“With disabled people bearing the brunt of the pandemic, financial support is needed now more than ever.
“The Government must reintroduce disability premiums under Universal Credit and provide an emergency support package for disabled people hit hardest by the pandemic.”
A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesperson said: “The money from the legacy disability premiums is now more effectively targeted at support for the most severely disabled and when fully rolled out, Universal Credit will be £2billion per year more generous than the support it replaces.
“Eligible people previously receiving the Severe Disability Premium can get transitional payments worth up to £405 a month.”
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