DR UK comment on mini Budget
Speaking about the Chancellor’s fiscal event, DR UK CEO Kamran Mallick said: “This was anything but a mini-Budget. But with all of the big announcements focused on tax cuts and boosts for business, we were disappointed not to see an increase in benefits for those who cannot work much, or at all, due to disability.
“Changes to Universal Credit will increase pressure on those capable of working to work harder to boost their income. Those who cannot work and are dependent on benefits are in for a harsh, punitive winter.
“The Government’s levelling up agenda is now in the dustbin of history. The new Cabinet appears to have replaced it with a survival of the fittest agenda. The cost of living has massively outpaced income for many Disabled people. We have serious concerns that Disabled lives will be lost this winter.”
DR UK recently wrote to the Chancellor as part of the Civil Society Group. DR UK recently wrote to the Chancellor as part of the Civil Society Group. Access a PDF of the letter on the DR UK website.
Government will not raise benefits until April
Despite the double digit rise in inflation, the Government has rejected calls to urgently address the adequacy and uprating of social security benefits.
In July 2022, in its Cost of Living report, the Work and Pensions cross-party Committee of MPs recommended that the Government review the adequacy of benefit levels and publish its findings.
However, in response to the Committee’s report, the Government said:
“The Government does not intend to conduct a specific review into the adequacy of benefit levels. There is no objective way of deciding what an adequate level of benefit should be as everyone has different requirements, and beneficiaries are free to spend their benefit as they see fit, in the light of their individual commitments, needs and preferences. Read more on benefits not rising on the DR UK website.
£150 lump sum cost of living payment cannot match double digit inflation, says DR UK
Around six million Disabled people should be receiving a one-off £150 disability payment from the Government to help towards the cost-of-living crisis. Those being paid a qualifying disability benefit, such as personal independence payment (PIP) and disability living allowance should have been paid automatically from 20 September onwards.
The payment was part of former Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s plan to combat the energy crisis along with the £650 payment for those Disabled people on means tested benefits such as universal credit and income support. Both payments are exempt from tax and do not impact existing awarded benefits.
Read more information on the £150 payments on the DR UK website.
Those in receipt of the payment are being urged to be alert to scammers. Payments will be automatic, so people should watch out for texts and emails from fraudsters asking for personal details.
UC is “not fit for purpose”: TUC calls for a new benefit “to deliver a fair and dignified system for everyone”
A new report by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) focuses on why and how Universal Credit (UC) should be replaced as the main means-tested benefit.
While recognising that wider reforms to the social security system are necessary, the TUC says:
“We believe that implementing the reforms set out in this paper would create a new system, whilst making use of the investment that has been put into the existing IT to operate UC and avoiding disruption to current claimants.
“Our aim throughout is to provide a fairer, more effective system, and minimise problems for claimants and the staff who deliver this support.”
The TUC sets out the following set of principles that any reform of the benefits system should be trying to achieve:
*A system that helps to prevent poverty and works together with efforts to create decent work for all.
*A system that helps with additional costs, including childcare, housing, and the added living costs linked to disability.
*A system that is simple to understand and deliver and in which claimants and staff are treated with dignity.
*A system that promotes equality for everyone in society. Read more about the TUC’s benefits proposals on the DR UK website.
DWP “hounded disabled woman for years” before her “starvation” death, papers show
Sophia Yuferev, a 37 year-old talented artist, who lived with significant mental distress and had a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, had been living on a sandwich a day for the last few months of her life after both her employment and support allowance (ESA) and her personal independence payment (PIP) had been stopped.
Although her family alerted her mental health team to the financial problems caused by the DWP cutting off her benefits, they say nothing was done to help her. You can find further details on the death of Sophia on the DR UK website.
Claddag granted permission to apply for judicial review
Claddag (a Disabled leaseholder’s group) has been given permission by the UK High Court to take its case against the Home Office to Judicial Review.
They are looking to hold the government to account, to make sure that they implement the findings of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and recommend that all Disabled people living in high-rise buildings should have the right to a personal emergency evacuation plan (PEEP).
You can read more information on Claddag’s appeal on the DR UK website.
Ticket office closures to alienate Disabled people from railways
The wholesale closure of railway ticket offices has begun on East Midland Railways according to The Daily Telegraph. The Telegraph notes that Department for Transport officials have ‘hardwired’ ticket office closures into a new contract with East Midland Railways with 25 of 30 ticket offices being closed across 100 stations with a view that this up to four fifths of ticket offices will be slashed across the country as contracts are reviewed.
On 21 June the then Transport Minister Wendy Morton wrote to DR UK CEO Kamran Mallick saying: “No final decision has been taken on ticket offices… Any changes must follow the process set out in the train operators’ Ticketing and Settlement Agreement and that TOCs [train operating companies] carry out equalities and impact assessments for any proposed changes to ticket offices”.
It was also stated that the Minister would “consider the potential impact on individuals with protected characteristics including disabilities” but this latest statement clearly shows that there is no intention of retaining these important facilities which also double as information centres.
DR UK CEO Kamran Mallick said: “This move will seriously impact and Disabled people who are unable to access smart technology and for whom access to rail depends on ticket office information support as well as ticket sales. It runs the risk of alienating whole swathes of our community from being able to use the railways.”
Children’s Commissioner calls for improved SEND provision
The Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England has highlighted concerns regarding the Government’s failure to deliver support for Disabled young people in education, and the impact this has on their later access to employment.
The Commissioner states how barriers to support include children not being identified as having additional needs, and being refused access to what they need – whether that be from their school, local NHS services, or local council.
Disabled students also provide quotes on how their barriers to accessing an inclusive education includes being targeted by their peers. One young person explains “Children/kids/teenagers should not be afraid of going to school just to be bullied.”
The consequences of these barriers are seen in poorer outcomes for Disabled people across both education and employment. Read more on SEND on the DR UK website.
DR UK in the Mirror
Anna Morell road tested the Lying in State accessible queue in the Mirror last week. And you can read her latest Dis Life column about the difference between disability equity and disability equality; why Rosie Jones and Sofie Hagen have been copping flack, and the Square Pegs singers.