‘Hidden’ disability cuts have been sneaked through without proper scrutiny or public consultation.
A leading UK charity and disability rights organisation has written to the Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, Penny Mordaunt MP, criticising a raft of “hidden” cuts set to affect thousands of young disabled people in the UK.
Disability Rights UK (DRUK) has expressed serious concerns regarding a number of cruel and contentious policy decisions that will see vital support for young disabled people drastically reduced.
The charity says these cuts have been “hidden” from public scrutiny, because the UK government has not explicitly announced the policy intent and has carried out no impact assessment or public consultation.
These cuts include a 55% per week reduction in the rate of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)/Universal Credit (UC) for under 25 year olds, full-time disabled students not being eligible for UC until they have received a work capability assessment, and the freezing of the lower disabled child element of UC.
Employment and Support Allowance
While it is well-known that the government is abolishing the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) of ESA for new claims, meaning those affected will miss out on around £30 a week, a reduction of around 55% a week in the amount currently awarded to certain under 25 claimants of ESA and UC has not been so well documented and reported.
Following a Work Capability Assessment to determine whether young people have a ‘limited capability for work’, claimants were paid the work-related activity component (WRAC) £57.90 per week) or the support component of ESA.
In addition to this, their personal allowance was increased to the same amount paid to those claimants who are 25 years or over, increasing the allowance by £73.10 per week.
But new regulations mean young disabled people will no longer be eligible for the extra financial support seen by older disabled people, meaning the amount the receive will remain at just £57.90 a week, despite having been found ‘unfit for work’ – the equivalent of Jobseeker’s Allowance for under 25’s.
The cut is equivalent to a 55% reduction in benefit, or a weekly loss of £50.25. The divisory measure effectively means that young disabled people will be receiving far less than their older peers.
Government ministers claim the WRAC acts as a “perverse disincentive” to disabled people gaining employment, but DRUK highlights a lack of any real evidence to support this claim and close the disability employment gap.
In their letter to Penny Mordaunt, DRUK says: “It is unrealistic to expect young disabled people to survive on £57.90 a week for at least two or more years.”