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3 June, 2020 Open access

‘Technical difficulty’ is no excuse to exclude disabled people from extra financial help during COVID-19 pandemic, says Disability Benefits Consortium

As more than 114,000 sign 'Don't Leave Disabled People Behind' petition, charities call on Chancellor to increase legacy benefits in line with universal credit

'Technical difficulty' is no excuse to exclude disabled people from extra financial help during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) has said.

Writing to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the DBC (a coalition of more than 100 disability organisations) highlights that its 'Don't Leave Disabled People Behind' campaign - which calls on the government to give the same £20 per week uplift to legacy benefits that it has to universal credit - has received more than 114,000 signatures. The DBC points out that, although the DWP Senior Responsible Owner for Universal Credit Neil Couling has said that the emergency £20 increase was only ever intended for new claimants, and was a 'windfall gain' for existing ones, its recent survey found that 95 per cent of disabled people had seen an increase in their costs as a result of the pandemic.

Addressing the alternative justification put forward for the policy decision - that the reason people on legacy benefits have not received the same £20 increase as those claiming universal credit is because it is 'too complicated' for the government's computer system - the DBC argues that technical difficulty is no excuse for disability discrimination and calls for a corresponding increase in legacy benefits to be made as soon as possible, and to be backdated to 6 April 2020.

Commenting on the letter, Campaigns Co-Chair of the DBC Ella Abraham said - 

'Discriminatory government excuses are leaving over 2.5 million people without the vital support they are fully entitled to. At a time of crisis, the government must stop wasting crucial time and extend the emergency £20 COVID-19 increase to all out of work benefits to ensure everyone is safe.'

For more information and a copy of the DBC's letter, see ‘Computer says no' – Government excuse for hundreds of thousands of disabled people denied emergency Covid support.