Disability Rights UK Newsletter


Disabled UC claimants underpaid by over £350 per month due to DWP failure to start WCA process

The National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers (NAWRA), the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) and Disability Rights UK have written to Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) Minister Victoria Prentis to highlight concerns about delays to the work capability assessment (WCA) process.

NAWRA is a membership based organisation for social welfare advice providers across the UK. The DBC is a national coalition of over 100 charities, that includes DR UK, and other organisations committed to working towards a fair benefits system.

In total, NAWRA, the DBC and DR UK represent hundreds of organisations.

The WCA is very important – it finds out what universal credit (UC) work-related responsibilities someone must meet to keep getting the benefit in full.

read more about the underpayments on our website

Disabled woman wins legal challenge against DWP over automatic benefit deductions

Hundreds of thousands of people who receive Legacy Benefits will be impacted by a new High Court’s, following a judicial review challenge brought by Helen Timson, a disabled former police officer.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Third Party Deductions Scheme gives third parties, such as private electric, gas and water companies, the ability to apply to the DWP for a proportion of a person’s benefits to be paid direct to them, to repay debt that they say is owed, and to meet ongoing usage costs.

Following the legal challenge, the way that the DWP operates the scheme – and in particular the way that the written guidance is drafted – will need to be significantly altered, specifically by making it clear to DWP decision-makers that benefit claimants should be given the opportunity to make representations and/or provide relevant information prior to the decision to make the deduction being taken.

Read more about the successful legal challenge at Disability Rights Uk website

7 in 10 PIP appeals won on the same evidence DWP already held

The claim by the DWP that they lose 70% of PIP appeals mainly because the claimant produces new evidence at their hearing has been proved to be untrue, the Benefits and Work has highlighted,

According to the DWP’s own statistics, 59% of appeals are won by the claimant because the tribunal reached a different conclusion based on the same facts, with new written evidence making a difference in just 1% of cases.

The statistics were revealed in answer to a a recent parliamentary question.

The full story can be found on our website.

Benefits must rise by inflation, says DR UK

The Government’s failure to confirm its previous assurance to increase benefits in line with inflation from April 2023 is deeply concerning, says DR UK.

Former Conservative Chancellor Rishi Sunak said on said on the 26th May that –

“I can reassure the House that next year, subject to the review by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, benefits will be uprated by this September’s consumer prices index, which on the current forecast is likely to be significantly higher than the forecast inflation rate for next year.”

There is legal protection for disability benefits such as disability living allowance, personal independence payment, and attendance allowance being increased annually by inflation.

Read more on benefits here.

New LGA guide Be a Councillor

The Local Government Association, which represents more than 350 councils in England and Wales, has launched a new guide as part of its flagship Be a Councillor campaign, to support disabled residents who may be interested in representing their local community at their next local election.

The brand-new guide has been produced with the help of disabled councillors in a bid to encourage disabled people to become councillors and bring new experience into local government.

It comes as the LGA’s most recent Councillor Census found that disabled people are consistently underrepresented on councils.

Read more on the guide on our website.

Asthma attacks in more than a million people linked to UK cost of living crisis rationing

One in five (20%) people living with asthma in the UK – of which there are 5.4 million – have had an attack as a result of changes they have been forced to make due to rising energy, food and household bills, according to the research by Asthma + Lung UK.

More than a million people in the UK have experienced life-threatening asthma attacks after cutting back on medicine, heating and food amid the soaring cost of living crisis, a survey by Asthma +Lung UK has found.

Asthma is a common, long-term disease that requires ongoing management. Certain triggers such as stress, exercise and pollution can cause your airways to become inflamed and tighten when you breathe, meaning in extreme cases urgent medical attention is usually required.

More than 3,600 people with lung conditions such as asthma, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and Bronchiectasis, were surveyed by the Asthma and Lung charity and their report found that 1 in 2 said their condition had worsened since the cost-of-living crisis began, with many needing emergency treatments.

Read more on how the cost of living is affecting medication here.

Cost of living crisis: Carolynne’s story

DR UK is highlighting the stories of Disabled people who are being chronically impacted by the cost of living crisis.

Carolynne lives in Scotland. Her daughter Freya is immobile, she is blind, she has peg feeding, which is where a tube goes directly into her stomach, she has epilepsy and a compromised airway.

Freya needs intensive support. She needs round the clock two-to-one nursing care. She is oxygen dependent. She has a permanent SATS monitor to gauge her oxygen levels and heart rate. She has a track and hoist, a powerchair, an electric bed and an electric bath. All of these things use power. Her care staff need to constantly sterilise equipment throughout the day and night. She needs two baths per day. She needs two bed linen changes per day, and multiple clothing changes per day, generating laundry. She has more auto generated procedures day and night. She needs an ambient room temperature of at least 24 degrees in the winter, and air conditioning running round the clock in the summer.

Read Carolynnes full story on our website.

Tens of thousands of claimants with mental health problems at “real risk” of losing their benefits due to “managed migration” to universal credit

By the end of 2024, the remaining 2.6 million claimants currently receiving ‘legacy benefits’, such as Employment and Support Allowance, are expected to have moved onto universal credit (UC).

Under this “managed migration”, all remaining legacy benefit claimants will be given a deadline to submit a claim for UC. They will then have three months to make the claim or have their benefit stopped with no UC to replace it.

More than 850,000 of these claimants are known to have a mental health problem. Many thousands more are struggling with their mental health but potentially undiagnosed – all of whom will be required to move to UC under this compulsory ‘self-managed migration’.

In a new report, the Money and Mental Health Institute (MMHI) warns that there is a real risk that tens of thousands of these people with mental health problems will find themselves cut off from their benefits at a time when living costs are spiralling.

Read more on this story on our website.

Watch DR UK at the Disabled Britain panel event

DR UK’s Anna Morell joined Coronation Street’s Cherylee Houston, Shadow Disability Minister Vicky Foxcroft MP, and journalist Rachel Charlton-Dailey at the Daily Mirror’s Disabled Britain: Doing It For Ourselves event at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool. You can watch the event here.

Citizens Advice warns of prepayment meter debt crisis

A new report by Citizens Advice (CA) has warned that nearly half a million people could be forced onto more expensive prepayment energy meters by the end of 2022. CA are calling on the government to stop companies forcing people onto prepayment meters where it poses a significant risk or to recover fuel debt, so that more people can be kept on supply as winter begins.

Prepayment meters – also known as ‘pay-as-you-go’ meters – are a common way to pay energy bills. A meter is installed in the home and topped up with credit bought either online or from a local shop. However, research has shown that many energy suppliers are force-installing prepayment meters onto consumers, many of whom are Disabled, noting that some people who can’t top up their prepayment meter will self-disconnect. For this reason, Disabled people or people in vulnerable situations shouldn’t be put onto a prepayment meter, because they can be exposed to serious harm should they go off supply. CA discovered that many households forced onto prepay had an illness or disability that is exacerbated in cold weather, such as arthritis, asthma, or cancer.

Historically households on prepayment meters spend more in winter than households on direct debit.

Read more on our website.

Suicide rates record high amongst 15-19 year olds

YoungMinds reported online this week that suicide rates for 15-19 year olds are the highest they have been in 30 years. This comes after their urgent call last month to the government for support as the teenage suicide rate had jumped by over a third.

According to data by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), analysed by Young Minds, suicide rates among young people aged 15-19 in England rose by 35 per cent from 2020 to 2021. In 2020, 147 young people aged 15-19 in England took their own lives. This rose to 198 in 2021. This is the highest number in over 30 years.

Read the full full minds story on our website.

Deaf jurors supported by BSL interpreter for first time

For the first time in England and Wales, deaf people have been able to fulfil their civic duty and serve on a jury, supported by British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters.

This summer, Karen – a volunteer at charity DeafCOG in London – became the first deaf person to complete jury service with a BSL interpreter at Croydon Crown Court, deliberating over a racially aggravated harassment case. Karen was also chosen by the other members of the jury to act as the jury foreperson – the spokesperson responsible for announcing the verdict.

This change in legislation, which allows BSL interpreters into the jury deliberation room, is expected to open up jury service to over 80,000 deaf people across England and Wales.

The full deaf jurors story is available on our website.

DR UK runners finish London Marathon

Last Sunday saw the capital play host to the 34th London Marathon

Amongst the 42,000 people who participated were eight runners raising money for DR UK including one of our policy and campaigns officers, Dan White.

Dan told E-news “The London marathon was always on my bucket list and to finally get the chance to take part and raise money for DR UK was just wonderful. The crowds were so encouraging, the sights along the way inspiring and the finish line after 26 miles with aching feet was very welcome!”

The total raised by all the DR UK entrants has yet to be totalled, however you can still donate to Dans shared Justgiving page here.