The UK Government has questions to answer over the unacceptable delay in delivering ongoing support and backdated payments for the thousands of individuals with severe disabilities who have lost out since moving onto Universal Credit
The Severe Disability Premium was lost by more than 13,000 individuals when they had to make fresh applications for Universal Credit, often because of changes in their circumstances. Following criticism by disability charities and the High Court ruling that two disabled men had been discriminated against by the Government, Ministers committed in June 2018 to providing additional support. However, draft regulations to provide the payment and to backdate it were not laid before Parliament until February this year.
Following a High Court judgement in May that the proposed regulations were unlawful, the Government this week announced that it would finally bring forward new regulations to support claimants who were entitled to the payment previously and have already moved to Universal Credit.
While I am pleased the Government has finally acted, there are serious questions to be asked about why it has taken the Government more than a year since the original court ruling to make an announcement at the 11th hour to deliver the support people desperately need – this is a completely unacceptable delay. In the meantime severely disabled people, including constituents of mine, have been suffering because of the loss of income designed to help with their health and care needs”.
It is wrong that Ministers, who frequently boast in the Commons that they put people with disabilities at the heart of their policy, have had to be dragged into the Commons chamber and twice to the High Court to bring forward these changes with just a few days to go before the parliamentary recess. The Government must now ensure that the payments are made without any further delay, and the many disabled people who are yet to move on to Universal Credit are not pushed into hardship, and are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.