More cash should be handed to benefits’ claimants yet to switch to Universal Credit, a report has demanded.
While rates of standard Universal Credit and basic working tax credits have been increased by £20 a week for 12 months, anyone not yet covered by the new flagship system have not received a rise in payments.
Ministers should raise rates for “legacy benefits”, according to the Work and Pensions Committee, reports MirrorOnline.
MP Stephen Timms, committee chair, said: “People on legacy benefits-including disabled people, carers and people with young families, have slipped down the list of priorities.
“It’s now time for the Government to redress that balance and increase legacy benefits too. It’s simply not right for people to miss out on support just because they happen, through no fault of their own, to be claiming the ‘wrong’ kind of benefit.”
The committee said in a report that it was “unacceptable” that people have been left to face hardship without the equivalent help “simply because of the outdated and complex way in which so-called legacy benefits are administered”.
The system has been “too inflexible and slow to adapt to support people” during the coronavirus pandemic, it added.
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Citizens Advice chief executive Dame Gillian Guy said “we strongly urge” the Government to accept the recommendations, warning “it’s been people in the most vulnerable circumstances who’ve been hardest hit” by the crisis.
Disability Benefits Consortium policy co-chairwoman Anastasia Berry said disabled people “are being forced to choose between food, heating and medication, and this simply cannot continue”.
Ms Berry, who is also policy manager of the MS Society, said: “It comes as no surprise that the Work and Pensions Select Committee are calling for this change.
“This adds to the mounting pressure on Boris Johnson’s Government to recognise its discrimination and extend the emergency £20 increase to all out of work benefits.
“Over 116,000 people have signed our petition calling on the Government to make this change, and various other bodies have recommended it too.
“We know this will all be encouraging to everyone in need of this support, but we need action from the Government now.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “We rolled out measures that could be quickly and effectively put into place and that benefited those facing the most financial disruption.
“There have been more than 2.4 million new claims for Universal Credit since March 16 and the system has stood up to the test in a way which the paper-based legacy benefit system could not have, ensuring around 90 per cent of people are paid in full and on time.”
The department has “made a number of changes to legacy and other working-age benefits, such as increasing certain entitlements such as Local Housing Allowance, and introduced a range of additional measures to provide financial protection for those affected by Covid-19”, he added.