Disability Rights UK Newsletter


Disabled employees paid £3.5k less than non-Disabled employees – ONS

The ONS has published new data showing that Disabled employees earn £1.93 less per hour than non-disabled employees, equating to a £3,500 pay gap based on a 35 hour week.

The pay gap between Disabled and non-disabled employees has widened, to 13.8%, compared to 11.7% in 2014.

DR UK CEO Kamran Mallick said: “We are not surprised to read this data. Disabled people are too often seen as incapable of work and more likely to take sick leave, when the reality is the opposite. The government speaks a lot of levelling up. Bringing in mandatory reporting on disability employment and pay is one way to highlight this issue so action can be taken. This is what we as founder members of the Disability Employment Charter are asking for. It’s time to make sure that that’s part of its goals for the fifth of the population which is Disabled.

“With costs of living spiralling, and with many Disabled people shelling out because of greater needs for transport and energy costs than non-disabled people, the Government must take urgent action to ensure that Disabled people are not on the backfoot when it comes to earnings.”

TUC polling published last November revealed that 40% of workers have been pushed into financial hardship over the last year during the pandemic.

EHRC presses DWP to improve treatment of Disabled benefit claimants

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is requiring the DWP to improve its treatment of Disabled benefit claimants in response to serious concerns about its treatment of people with mental health impairments and learning disabilities.

Disability rights campaigners have long raised concerns with the Commission about the deaths of DWP customers in vulnerable situations, and an all-party group of MPs asked the EHRC in February 2021 to “undertake an investigation into the deaths of vulnerable claimants by suicide and other causes between 2008 and 2020”.

The Commission examined whether the DWP was making reasonable adjustments to its processes for people with mental health conditions and learning difficulties, as required under the Equality Act 2010.

Through 2021, the EHRC questioned DWP officials about the concerns that its legal obligations to Disabled customers were not being met. The DWP outlined the steps being taken to address the problems identified.

However, the Commission has concluded that further action is necessary, given the seriousness of the issues. It is therefore drawing up a legally-binding agreement with the DWP to commit them to an action plan to meet the needs of customers with mental health impairments and learning disabilities.

This legally-binding action plan is aimed at resolving issues for DWP claimants, and “offers a fast, effective means of redress, and helps to avoid lengthy investigations”.

Ken Butler DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Officer said: “It’s welcome that the EHRC is now taking action on this issue as are any positive DWP reforms that result. However, what’s still needed is a full public inquiry to fully learn from the DWP’s past failures and a new, independent process to investigate future cases of death and serious harm.”

The Disability News Service recently published a 10,000-word investigation describing how evidence stretching back more than a decade showed how the DWP repeatedly ignored recommendations to improve the safety of its disability benefits assessment system, leading to countless avoidable deaths of disabled claimants.

Read more on our website.

UC makes people ‘better off’ says DWP as figures show only slightly over half of switching claimants would benefit 

The DWP is encouraging those receiving “legacy benefits” who would be “better off” on Universal Credit (UC) to claim it voluntarily.

There are six means tested legacy benefits: income-related employment and support allowance; income-based jobseeker’s allowance; income support; housing benefit; child tax credit; and working tax credit.

The DWP estimates that, of the house­holds on legacy benefits, 1.4 mil­lion would be bet­ter off on UC. A further 1.2 million people would not be better off.

Ken Butler DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Adviser said: “UC is not a simplified benefit and not everyone will be better off by claiming it. Other factors such as monthly payments and that it is IT based are factors that can be important considerations. Given that it’s impossible to return to legacy benefits after claiming UC it is essential to get independent advice to check if it’s the right thing for you.”

As part of its initiative, the DWP has launched a campaign aimed at ”encouraging” tax credit claimants to check if they might be financially better off on Universal Credit. It says: “Many tax credit claimants could be financially better off on Universal Credit. You could take advantage of this by choosing to apply for Universal Credit sooner if you think it’s right for you.”

However, the DWP is not going to identify, advise or inform legacy benefit claimants as to who would be “better off”, or “worse off” under UC, or provide any safeguards for those who make a wrong decision.

The Minister for Welfare Delivery David Rutley has admitted that even the UC Help to Claim service is “not intended to help someone decide if Universal Credit is right for them”.

Read more on our website.

DVLA still lagging on processing Disabled drivers’ right to drive enquiries

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has admitted that Disabled drivers waiting to hear if they can drive will not be subject to normal response times before the end of September.

More than 200,000 applicants have waited more than 10 weeks to find out whether they are allowed to carry on driving.

People with medical conditions or disabilities which could affect their ability to drive safely must let the DVLA know if they develop a condition for the first time, or if it has worsened since they obtained their licence.

Julie Lennard, Chief Executive of the DVLA, wrote to Huw Merriman, Chairman of the Commons Transport Select Committee, to say that it would take until the end of May to return to normal turnaround times on drivers’ paper applications – 2.5 years since the pandemic first started affecting response times.

The letter said: “We are on track to return to normal turnaround times on drivers’ paper applications by the end of May and drivers’ medical applications by the end of September.” She said that most of the 207,096 who had been waiting longer than ten weeks are medical cases.

DR UK CEO Kamran Mallick said: “Disabled people often cannot use alternative forms of transport. That delays for Disabled people are even longer than those for non-Disabled people shows that we are still treated as second class citizens. Delays of such length have a huge human cost for those waiting for the nod to get back to living independent lives.”

Music magazine features Disabled cover star

National music magazine The Wire is featuring Disabled musician Miguel Tomasín, leader of Argentine cult band Reynols as its cover star.

Miguel became the first musician with Down’s Syndrome to play regularly on Argentine national television in the 1990s and the band are still active, thirty years on. You can read the interview at The Wire.