Disabled To Lose £3,000 In Benefits

This article written by Rory MacKinnon was first published by the Morning Star on 7 May 2013.

Just one in 10 households are set to gain anything from the Con-Dem universal credit scheme, with half actually losing out.

Trade unionists and child poverty campaigners called on Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan-Smith yesterday to take note as they released a damning report on the economic effect of his benefits changes.

The scheme combines a range of benefits – from jobseeker’s allowance to housing benefit and income support for those on low wages – into a single lump sum paid in arrears each month.

The millionaire minister hailed a pilot scheme launched in Manchester earlier this month as starting a “fundamental cultural shift,” moving people off benefits and into work.

But critics have already warned the scheme carries heavy sanctions for those already in work but too poorly paid to support themselves.

Claimants on minimum-wage jobs of less than 35 hours a week risk losing their benefits unless they trawl classifieds, attend job interviews with 48 hours’ notice or even quit the job they already have.

The TUC and Child Poverty Action Group‘s report found that some of the worst off under universal credit were working couples with children and working solo parents.

Ninety-four per cent of two earner couples with children will receive less in benefits by the end of 2015 than they would under the existing regime, while 76 per cent of working-lone parents will also miss out.

But the biggest losers would be working people with disabilities, as the government’s decision to scrap the severe disability premium – an allowance for people without an adult carer – would cost some £3,000 a year.

The coalition’s cull of working tax credits for workers with disabilities would also mean an additional drop in annual incomes of at least £2,800 each year.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said ministers had ignored the policy’s pitfalls in the current economic crisis with under-employment rife and official jobseeker figures five times greater than the number of existing vacancies.

“Ministers must not turn a blind eye to these problems or universal credit will fail to help those very people it has been designed to support.”

The report was a “useful blueprint” for a government wanting to make a real difference, she said.

And Child Poverty Action Group chief executive Alison Garnham added the high costs of housing and childcare to the mix.

“Many of universal credit’s shortcomings can be fixed but if the government wants to reduce poverty, it needs to take a long, hard look at its broader policies rather than expect universal credit to save the day.”

#RT via http://welfarenewsservice.com

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