A landslide victory for the Conservatives leaves claimants with little hope of any significant improvement in their circumstances over the next five years.

The Conservative manifesto had hardly anything positive to offer claimants.

The benefits freeze is to end, but there has been no undertaking to help claimants catch up after years of their income falling in real terms

There is an undertaking to reduce the number of benefits reassessments, but this is supposed to be happening in any case.

There is also a promise to publish a National Strategy for Disabled People before the end of 2020 which will look at ways to improve the benefits system. However, whether any mooted improvements actually materialise is another.

Other than that, the signals are very largely negative.

The roll out of universal credit will now undoubtedly go ahead.

Private sector companies will continue, outside of Scotland, to carry out benefits assessments.

The move to digital will carry on, making both claims and appeals harder to pursue for many people.

And challenges to unfair benefits rules, like the attempt to overturn the unfair mandatory reconsideration system which has been largely funded by Benefits and Work readers, are likely to become harder to pursue.

This is because the Conservative manifesto contains undertakings to ‘update the Human Rights Act’ and to ensure that judicial review is not ‘abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays’.

The challenge to mandatory reconsiderations, like a number of other recent successful benefits cases, is based on using the Human Rights Act by way of a judicial review.

If human rights are watered down and judicial reviews made more expensive, with a higher chance of costs being awarded when the government wins for example, then many fewer challenges will be launched.

Claimants will also have to wait to see whether local housing allowance (LHA) will be increased so that it actually covers the cost of renting.

The ending of the benefits freeze did not include LHA. The previous Tory government said a decision on this issue would have to wait until after the election.

Yet, according to Shelter LHA rates for a two-bedroom property do not cover the cheapest third of rents in a shocking 97% of the country. In fact, rates are so far behind the cost of renting that in a third of areas in England (32%), the LHA rate does not even cover the bottom 10% of the local market.

With one in three renters receiving LHA having to cut back on food for either themselves or their partner this is an issue that urgently needs addressing.

Whether it will be a priority for the incoming secretary of state for work and pensions remains to be seen.


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