The DWP is about to get a bit of a shock over Universal Credit

'Stop and Scrap' Universal Credit badges and DWP logo
Support us and go ad-free

The Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Universal Credit welfare reform has been controversial. And now, a group of disabled people is taking the fight against it right to the heart of parliament.

“Grave” and “systematic” human rights violations

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) is at the forefront of the disability rights movement in the UK. As well as high-profile protests, legal actions, and campaigns, the group was also instrumental in securing a report from the UN. The report accused successive Conservative-led governments of “grave” and “systematic” violations of disabled people’s human rights, creating a “human catastrophe”.

But now, the group has turned its attention to Universal Credit, the new welfare payment from the DWP.

It had previously organised a national day of action on Thursday 1 March against the reform, but due to the severe weather in the UK, the planned protest at parliament was cancelled. It’s now happening on Wednesday 18 April, right in the middle of prime minister’s questions (PMQs).

Universal credit: extensive concerns

DPAC has extensively detailed its concerns over Universal Credit. These include:

  • Up to one million low paid workers being subject to the same welfare and sanctions regime that disabled people have been living with.
  • Universal Credit being administered wholly online, when around 2.9 million disabled people (22%) have never used the internet.
  • The DWP will ignore GPs’ sick notes under Universal Credit. Instead, all sick and disabled claimants will have Health and Work Conversations with the DWP. These are mandatory work-focused interviews to assess “what they [claimants] can do rather than what they cannot”.
  • An increase in the sanctions regime, linked to the Health and Work Conversations.
  • Some disabled people and couples losing up to £5,195 a year due to changes to entitlements.
  • The effect of the benefit on people living with mental health issues – specifically possible forced therapy.

Just this week, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) also found that around 160,000 children who would have got free school meals under the old system will lose out with Universal Credit. Meanwhile, the Trussell Trust found that “foodbanks in areas of full [Universal Credit] roll out for six months or more have seen a 30% average increase six months after rollout compared to a year before”. Its analysis also showed that Universal Credit accounted for:

  • 45% of referrals made, because of a wait for a first payment.
  • 36% of referrals made, because the DWP had not yet awarded someone a new claim.
  • 38% of referrals made, due to a change to a different benefit.

The DWP previously told The Canary:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

We are committed to supporting people into work while making sure the right care is in place for those that can’t.

The government and the DWP’s wilful ignorance

But Ellen Clifford from DPAC is concerned. She told The Canary:

To date, at least £15.8bn has been wasted on its implementation, with repeated delays and a continued failure to present any evidence of a business case to justify either the cost to the taxpayer or the distress and hardship it is already causing to claimants… Pilot areas have reported serious hardship with visits to food banks soaring along with rates of people sanctioned and left without any income for 3 months or more.

Universal Credit is a disastrous policy that represents a crime against claimants and must be stopped before it pushes more people into poverty and destitution.

DPAC will be gathering at 11am on 18 April outside the visitors’ entrance to parliament. Local actions will also be happening up and down the country; details are here. Despite the group’s and others’ concerns, though, the government has barely made any concessions on Universal Credit. So it’s once again down to disabled people to hold this government to account.

If you’re free on 18 April, you might like to join DPAC at parliament. Because it may not be too long before the DWP hits you with Universal Credit, too.

Get Involved!

– Support DPAC and Black Triangle, campaigning for disabled people’s rights.

– Find out more about DPAC’s 18 April day of action.

Featured image via DPAC and UK government – Wikimedia

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed