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Government statistics released today revealed that at least 4,000 disabled people receiving the severe disability premium* are worse off as a result of the move to Universal Credit. The Government later announced they will make sure that thousands of people currently receiving this premium won't have to move onto Universal Credit until there are protections in place. The Government has agreed to repay people who have already lost out. People making entirely new claims to Universal Credit will still no longer be eligible for any premiums.
The Government had committed to protecting payments for people who currently receive the severe disability premiums. However in practice many people have found themselves losing these payments because, for example, they changed address and had to make a new claim to Universal Credit.
In 2018, two people known as TP and AR mounted a legal challenge against the Department for Work and Pensions. Both had lost their premiums in the move to Universal Credit. They were represented by Leigh Day. Mind provided a witness statement to support their case – highlighting the impact that losing premiums, and the fear of losing premiums, has had on people with mental health problems.
Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Mind said:
“It’s really concerning that thousands of people with mental health problems lost their much-needed income in the move over to Universal Credit, and hundreds of thousands more were left living in fear that it could happen to them. It’s right that the Government will repay those affected. What’s most important now is that they work quickly to identify and reimburse the people who have already lost their premiums. We’re seeking confirmation from the Government that everyone who is out of pocket under Universal Credit will be reimbursed.
“The premiums were introduced so that disabled people who live independently could get the support they need to make ends meet. Many people with mental health problems rely on this money to get to appointments, to see friends and family, and to live independent lives. If the Government is really committed to supporting people with mental health problems to have control over their own lives, they must reintroduce these premiums for anyone making a claim to Universal Credit.”
*Disability premiums are additional benefits paid to disabled people who live independently. They are intended to recognise the extra costs people face if they are not being supported by a carer. The disability premiums exist within ‘legacy benefits’ including Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA) but have been removed in Universal Credit.Benefits