DBC letter to Secretary of State on emergency Covid-19 measures


30th March 2020
The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), a network of over 100 organisations, have written an open letter (below) to Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to call for urgent changes to the benefits system to ensure we protect disabled and seriously unwell people from further physical and financial harm during the covid-19 emergency.

Full details of these proposals can be found in the DBC reports section.

“Dear Secretary of State,

Covid-19 – the Disability Benefits Consortium’s proposals for additional short-term measures to protect disabled people’s incomes

The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is a network of over 100 organisations with an interest in disability and social security [including WAMES]. For our full list of members

Using our combined knowledge, experience and direct contact with millions of disabled individuals, people with long-term health conditions and carers, we seek to ensure that Government policy reflects and meets the needs of all disabled people.

The DBC welcomes the recently announced measures designed to protect the incomes of large numbers of people whose livelihoods have been adversely impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. But we believe that these support measures need to go further.

People living with a disability and those with long-term health conditions tend to have lower real incomes and higher costs than the general population and we are calling on the Government to produce a more comprehensive package of support, to better protect these individuals and their families, at this difficult time.

Summary of measures – read the full letter:

  1. Urgently resolve the technical and capacity issues of the Benefits online claims system. Plus clear guidance is needed for the correct process to make both a digital claim and a non-digital claim.
  2. Increase Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), the restoration of the Work-Related Activity Group (and UC equivalent Limited Capability for Work) addition.
  3. Suspend the benefit cap and the “two-child policy”
  4. The lower rate of the disabled child element of UC should be restored to its level in the legacy system to compensate for loss of Transitional protection (TP).
  5. All UC advances for disabled people should be non-repayable grants due to 5 week wait for payment.
  6. Explicitly suspend work-related conditionality and associated sanctions.
  7. Suspend all debt repayment deductions from UC, to ease financial hardship for the duration of the current crisis.
  8. Swift access to UC via the ‘Special Rules for Terminal Illness scheme’ should be extended to ESA, Personal Independence Payment and Attendance Allowance.
  9. Extend the time requirements for claimants to return paperwork and to gather medical evidence where necessary.
  10. Pay the basic/ standard rate to claimants whose benefit is suspended pending Mandatory Reconsideration, until the process is completed – and also, fully reinstate a benefit that has been wholly or partly withdrawn and is awaiting MR or an appeal.
  11. Encourage Local Authorities to remove features such as the two-child policy and the self-employed claimants’ Minimum Income Floor from their local Council Tax Support/ Reduction schemes.

Read full letter

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