HALF a million disabled people and their families are set to lose thousands of pounds a year under the government’s proposed Universal Credit, a report says.
The Children’s Society, Citizens Advice and Disability Rights UK say 100,000 households with children could have incomes reduced by between £28 and £58 a week.
The Universal Credit is set to replace Jobseeker’s allowance, tax credits, income support, employment and support allowance – formerly known as incapacity benefit – and housing benefits with a single payment.
The system will be ‘piloted’ in parts of north-east England next April and will come into force across Britain for new claimants from October 2013.
Existing claimants will be transferred to the new system in stages until 2017, while Universal Credit will be capped at £26,000 per household.
The report argues that the changes will mean 230,000 severely disabled people who do not have another adult to assist them will receive between £28 and £58 less in benefits every week.
It also states that around 116,000 disabled people who work will be at risk of losing around £40 per week.
The report says the impact of the cuts in support for disabled children could be ‘extremely severe’ for families currently receiving the mid-rate ‘care component’ of the Disability Living Allowance, a payment made where a child can be severely disabled but does not need care overnight.
Of those families affected, one in 10 expressed fears that they could no longer afford their own home, while two thirds said they would have to cut back on food, and more than a half said it would lead them into debt.
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson said: ‘Under the new system it is going to be difficult for a number of disabled people.
‘The government say people are protected but it’s only for current benefit claimants.’
The report summarises the findings from three research reports based on evidence from surveys of almost 3,500 disabled people and their families, as well as a parliamentary evidence session.