Two disabled people have launched a case against the government. But none of us should ignore the impact Universal Credit has on people's livesby Frances Ryan / May 2, 2018 / Leave a comment
The Windrush scandal currently engulfing the government is evidence not only of the great damage ministers can inflict on marginalised people’s lives—but the revolt that can occur when it goes too far. Yet look to the High Court this week and you’ll see the same damage being inflicted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), right at the centre of a flagship ‘welfare’ policy.
Two disabled people—aided by the law firm Leigh Day—have launched a landmark legal challenge against the government, arguing Universal Credit (UC) “unlawfully discriminates” against disabled benefit claimants.
It’s well established now that UC is creating financial misery, with those witnessing the fallout of the new benefit system describing it as “hell on earth.” Just last month, research by the Trussell Trust found food bank use is, on average, 52 per cent higher in areas where the full universal credit service has been in place for 12 months or more.
But like the Conservative’s ‘welfare reform’ generally, it’s disabled people who are taking the brunt. This is because two key disability benefits—the severe disability premium (SDP) and enhanced disability premium (EDP)—are being abolished under the new system. The move will see claimants lose as much as £395 a month, according to the disability charity Scope.
It’s estimated a staggering 230,000 disabled people will be affected.
This is, by definition, taking support from the very people who need it most.
Severe disability premium, for example, is a benefit designed for severely disabled people living without a carer. Since 1988, it’s helped people pay for anything from taxis to hospital to a personal assistant to help them get dressed and washed. It’s often the safety net that stops their children from having to become child carers to fill in the gaps.
No one can say ministers didn’t know the harm this change would cause: a Citizen’s Advice Bureau report in 2012 found 80 per cent of disabled people said a cut this size would mean they’d have to skip meals or go without heating.
One of the disabled people taking the government to court, who has chosen to only be known as ‘TP’, is terminally ill. The 52-year-old has non-Hodgkin lymphoma and the lymph node condition Castleman disease. As he battles the DWP, is undergoing chemotherapy. His…