As you know, Scope’s Disability Price Tag report found that, on average, disabled adults face extra costs of £538 per month. For families with disabled children, the extra cost is £581 per month.
The report also makes a number of specific recommendations. It calls for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment process to be overhauled, so that disabled people receive awards that accurately reflect the costs they face.
While PIP was supposed to cover the additional cost of living with a disability, I am aware that this has not always been the case in practice. I agree that the assessment framework is deeply flawed and I am aware of examples where poor-quality decision making has led to disabled people losing vital financial support. We must scrap the PIP assessment process, and replace it with personalised, holistic support that is responsive to an individual’s needs.
In addition, the report expresses serious concern that the removal of disability premiums – such as the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) – under Universal Credit (UC) will lead to disabled people being worse off than under legacy benefits.
I know that disabled people rely on the SDP to enable them to live independently and any cut in support has very serious implications for those affected. In addition, it is deeply concerning that people in receipt of the SDP will not receive transitional support if they move across to UC through natural migration. The Government must address this as a matter of urgency.
UC was designed to lift people out of poverty and smooth the transition into work, to ensure that it always pays. However, I am concerned that UC has acted as a vehicle for cuts and caused real hardship. The rollout of UC must be stopped and I will continue to call on the Government to reverse the cuts to disability premiums.