Thousands call for Universal Credit boost to be added to other state benefits

More than 100,000 people are calling on the government to end the “cruel” exclusion of many benefit recipients from additional aid during the coronavirus pandemic.

A boost of £ 1,040 per year – about £ 20 per week or £ 80 per month – was given to Universal Credit recipients in April.

And although this will end in April 2021, there are increasing requests to apply the bonus to other social security systems as well.

In the final step, a petition calling for the increase to be spread to other benefits is handed over to Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

The signatures were collected by the Disability Benefits Consortium, a network of more than 100 organizations, which said thousands of people with health problems or disabilities have faced “tremendous hardship” as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

It said those who have not yet switched to Universal Credit from legacy benefits have not received an ‘uplift’, despite having to spend more during the pandemic on safe access to food, to and from medical appointments and care.

The DBC’s petition, Don’t Leave Disabled People Behind, has been signed more than 119,000 times and will be delivered to Rishi Sunak on Wednesday, November 18.

The consortium is calling for an end to what it calls a “discriminatory bipartisan welfare state”.

Kevin Whitworth, of the Isle of Lewis – who suffered a brain injury after a fall about a decade ago, has been receiving Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) since 2016.

He said: “Money is tight and I live on the cereal. If I have an extra £ 20 I could eat properly again.

“It’s really unfair that people like me with a retirement pension don’t get the same help as those with Universal Credit – we need money too.”

Karen Pickering, from the west coast of Scotland, was diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2007.

She said, “Being stuck at home for the past seven months has increased my living costs. I can’t just get a loaf of bread so I have to pay for regular food deliveries. Can’t walk my dog ​​every day and have to go out instead pay for a dog walking service – it’s all right. “

Ella Abraham, co-chair of the DBC’s campaigns, said: “For people with disabilities and others on legacy benefits, being denied the £ 20 per week lifeline that those with Universal Credit received has been a real hardship.

It is unacceptable for the government to insist that only those who have had to claim universal credit as a result of the pandemic are in financial distress.

“The government should take this opportunity in the upcoming spending review to act now, to end this discriminatory two-tier welfare state and ensure that the two million people on legacy benefits receive this vital additional support and not. stay behind longer. “

A government spokesperson said: “ We are fully committed to supporting people with disabilities through the pandemic, increasing assistance by £ 9.3 billion to help those most in need, entering the Covid Winter Support Low-income package and the provision of £ 3.7 billion to local authorities to help reduce pressure on local services, including adult social care. “