Incapacity and disability benefit claimants feel particularly hard hit during coronavirus outbreak, MPs find
The Work and Pensions Committee of MPs has published the results of a survey to find out people’s experiences of the benefit system during the coronavirus outbreak.
More than 6,000 people responded to the Committee’s call for submissions from people claiming benefits for the first time, from existing claimants, and from people who need support but have found they are unable to claim any benefits.
The survey shows that incapacity and disability benefit claimants feel particularly hard hit and the MP’s report include the following.
The suspension of face to face assessments for disability benefits has caused problems for people whose assessments have been cancelled and not yet rescheduled, leaving them uncertain about when they will take place.
“My wife has M.S… We returned medical assessment form including all necessary evidence and waited to see what our next payment statement would state, no extra payment, just standard amount for a couple, contacted UC and was told all assessments have now being cancelled until further notice.
I explained about our situation, to be told that “my wife will have to undergo a face to face UC medical assessment and this will not take place until the coronavirus has ended”. So that’s how we have been left, disgraceful.”
Individuals with mental health conditions described how social distancing measures have left them unable to access the support necessary to complete applications or health assessments.
“The DWP have stopped my PIP and my partner’s carers benefit all because I am still waiting for my doctor to do a letter to them to tell them why I couldn’t go to my face to face medical with ATOS health care. This is not fair as doctors cannot do letters why they are working on the front line with this virus.”
Some who have lost income described how this has made it harder to fund their own care or to support the people they care for:
“Food and other household goods have gone up in price or I can’t buy the cheaper options I normally get, so the money I get isn’t going far enough. I’m having to spend a lot of money on cleaning products and PPE for my carers as I’m in the extremely vulnerable category.”
Other themes identified by the MP’s survey include the following:
- Individuals are grateful for how quickly DWP has adapted its operations;
- People trying to claim benefits were still facing delays
- People are having trouble verifying their ID;
- There are lots of new claimants who don’t understand the benefits system;
- Fewer people are requesting advances, but getting one is still hard for some;
- Some people want to claim Universal Credit but aren’t able to;
- Some self-employed people are falling through the gaps in support;
- Some people are still struggling to make ends meet.
The Work and Pensions Committee Coronavirus survey response is available from committees.parliament.uk.