Severely disabled people put on Universal Credit 6 months after pledge to stop

Tory ministers have been criticised for continuing to move severely disabled people to Universal Credit – more than six months first pledging to stop.

Ministers said last June they planned to stop any more people on Severe Disability Premiums (SDPs) joining the new benefit, until transition cash was in place.

But the law to stop moving SDP claimants only took effect on January 16.

Labour is now demanding to know how many SDP claimants moved over in the seven-month period after Tories promised to act.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Margaret Greenwood has written to Tory welfare chief Amber Rudd asking for the figures.

And she called for transition payments that "fully reflect the financial loss they will have suffered as a result".

Ms Greenwood wrote: "Disabled people rely on the support they receive from Severe Disability Premium to enable them to live independently.

"Any cut in support has very serious implications for those affected."

The announcement was made on June 7 by then-Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) minister Esther McVey.

It came after thousands of people lost their disability ‘premiums’ by moving to UC – the Tories’ flagship all-in-one benefit.

Premiums recognise the extra costs people face if they don’t have a carer. But they do not exist under UC, which uses a separate system.

Campaigners claimed that left some families £147 a month out of pocket.

Ms McVey said she would bring forward changes as part of legislation "in the autumn". However, although the law was brought forward in the autumn, it only took effect last week.

Now that the law has taken effect, SDP claimants should not have to move to UC until ‘managed migration’ begins fully in mid-2020.

Meanwhile, draft laws are still going through Parliament to refund the thousands of SDP claimants who have already moved to UC.

It will come as a lump sum and ongoing payments. But the law is still being examined.

The letter demands a "clear timeframe" for when back payments will be available.

And Ms Greenwood, who co-signed the letter with Shadow Minister for Disabled People Marsha De Cordova, claimed some people will still be out of pocket.

She said some are due £80 a month, which "does not make up for the past and ongoing losses that they have and will experience as a result of moving onto UC."

She warned some of those claimants could lose £180 a month, according to the Children’s Society and Disability Benefits Consortium.

"We ask you to address this as a matter of urgency," she added.

DWP officials said former SDP claimants are due a transition payment of either £80 or £280 depending on their eligibility.

A DWP spokeswoman said: "We have always said we would bring in these regulations from January.

"We remain committed to implementing protections for people in receipt of Severe Disability Premium.

“We have simplified the disability provision within Universal Credit and around 1 million disabled people will receive an average of £100 more a month than on the old system."

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