Charities say suspend the benefit cap during COV19 to protect disabled people

The Government has been urged to make changes to the benefits system in order to protect those that are disabled or seriously unwell during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter to Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey, the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) said that such groups could be among those most at risk during the crisis.

The consortium, comprised of more than 100 organisations with an interest in disability and social security, also warned that disabled people in work and parents of disabled children could lose out financially as a result of the emergency.

Among the proposals outlined by the DBC include a call to give higher priority to resolving technical and capacity issues in the benefits system, as well as providing clear guidance for making both a digital claim for Universal Credit (UC) and a non-digital claim.

The DBC also said that the Government should suspend the benefit cap and the “two-child policy”, while also making all UC advances for disabled people non-repayable grants.

A move to explicitly suspend work-related conditionality and associated sanctions for those receiving benefits is also requested in the letter, along with the suspension of all debt repayment deductions from UC in order to ease financial hardship for the duration of the current crisis.

Ella Abraham, campaigns co-chair of the DBC, said: “These are unprecedented and extremely worrying times for so many people, across all of our organisations we are seeing the detrimental impact this is having on disabled and unwell people’s physical and mental health.

“It is therefore crucial the Department for Work and Pensions implement these changes with immediate effect to ensure people are not pushed further into poverty.”

Anastasia Berry, policy manager at the MS Society and policy co-chair of the DBC, called for financial support and reassurance to be given to those living with MS.

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She said: “While we understand this is a time of crisis, we urge the Government not to lose sight of the 130,000 people living with MS in the UK.

“Now more than ever, people with this condition desperately need financial support and reassurance for the future.

“MS is relentless, painful and disabling, and the current crisis is making life even harder for many. The steps recommended by the DBC today will be essential to help ease people’s growing anxiety in this uncertain time.”


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