Claimants of employment and support allowance (ESA) and tax credits will suffer financially because they have not been included in increases given to universal credit (UC) claimants and may lose transitional protection, the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) warned yesterday.

The DBC, whose members include over 100 charities, has told the government in an open letter that the £20 increase in universal credit will not apply to claimants of legacy benefits such as ESA. They are asking that ESA claimants receive a similar uplift and also that the extra money for claimants in the work-related activity group and its UC equivalent is restored.

In addition, the DBC has pointed out that disabled workers who lose their jobs in the coming months because of an economic downturn will have no transitional protection when they are obliged to claim UC.

The DBC state:

“Any Working Tax Credit (WTC) claimant who loses their job over the coming few months will not be able to continue claiming WTC and will have to claim UC instead. This means they will lose Transitional Protection (TP). As you know, this is a temporary top-up payment that would have been added to their UC to offset any losses, when the DWP eventually transferred them from WTC – but it is not payable when you move to UC because of a change of circumstances, such as job loss.

“Disabled people in work and parents of disabled children stand to lose far more than most people if they lose TP – sometimes amounting to thousands of pounds a year. This will make it even more difficult for them to recover from the economic shock of the next few months.”

The DBC has put forward a number of other suggestions for changes to the benefits system to help claimants through the coming months, including:

Converting UC advance into non-repayable grants

Suspending work-related conditionality and sanctions

Extending the time limits for returning forms because of the difficulty of obtaining medical evidence

Pay benefits in full where a claimant is awaiting a mandatory reconsideration or appeal

You can read the full DBC letter here.

Correction: in this newsletter we originally said that tax credits would not be increased, this was incorrect. Please see our Coronavirus updates for the current situation.


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