Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) boss Amber Rudd has received an open letter. It’s a stark reminder that, for many, Universal Credit is a no-win situation.
The DWP: universal chaos
The campaign group BENEFITS NEWS has written an open letter to Rudd. In it, the group details its concerns over Universal Credit. The DWP’s flagship benefit, which combines six means-tested payments, has been dogged by controversy. From a damning National Audit Office report to its links with increased foodbank use and rent arrears, the benefit has been in chaos.
Recently, the work and pensions secretary has made quite a few changes to the rollout of the benefit – even losing a court case on 11 January. But, as the Canary previously reported, these piecemeal changes have done little to really alter anything. Now, BENEFITS NEWS has issued Rudd with a timely reminder that, for many, Universal Credit could put them in an impossible situation.
The letter reads:
We wish you to take seriously our strong concerns re. Universal Credit and the very sick, incapacitated and disabled people who cannot work at all, but also who cannot comply with Universal Credit requirements due to the various medical/mental health conditions they are suffering with.
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You appear to keep omitting this.
The group tweeted a shortened version:
OPEN LETTER TO @AmberRuddHR @DWP @dwppressoffice
Copying in to – @CommonsWorkPen @frankfieldteam , @heidiallen75 @Meg_HillierMP of @CommonsPAC @NAOorguk @Deven_Ghelani and @NeilCouling
cc @MGreenwoodWW @Debbie_abrahams @IanLaveryMP @The_SSAC @IanDiamond11 @Chris_Goulden pic.twitter.com/vz1nsAK6Pc
— BENEFITS NEWS (@BENEFITS_NEWS) January 18, 2019
Under Universal Credit, the DWP will deem some sick and disabled people as being ready to move towards work. This means they will have to do some work preparation activity. Meanwhile, those the DWP says are too sick or disabled to work will still have to have an assessment.
BENEFITS NEWS noted that some people can’t have work coaches or assessors come into their homes due to their mental health conditions. For example, people living with social anxiety may struggle with this.
The group also highlighted that some people find tech or computers difficult. You have to apply for Universal Credit online. But this is a ridiculous situation. In 2017, 21% of disabled people didn’t have home internet access. They would have had to go into a DWP office. This could be challenging for numerous reasons, not least if they live with agoraphobia, for example.
“Harassment and discrimination”
BENEFITS NEWS explained to the Canary why it wrote the letter:
There are too many variants of physical and mental health conditions that interlink. So for the large numbers of ESA claimants or any new sick or disabled claimants… it should never have been a case of implying any could comply with Universal Credit, work coaches, Jobcentres. They should all be exempt from the draconian policy and process,. These are designed to get people into work. It should be a simple case, even to people with no medical training.
e deem it harassment and discrimination. This of course follows all that has been found to date, regarding this government’s poor treatment of sick and disabled, especially by UN.
How does Rudd think these people feel, to know their incapacity is being ignored? Many of these claimants worked hard, fo
r years, to the point they couldn’t any longer as their conditions render [them] unable to work. Many sick and disabled people just want to be left alone. But the DWP should award them the monies they need to live on, without the harassment.
People often forget the DWP’s most basic faults – especially when Universal Credit is in constant chaos. BENEFITS NEWS’s letter is a reminder that for all Rudd’s changes, her department is still effectively questioning people’s illnesses and impairments. That basic lack of trust between the DWP and the claimants hasn’t gone away.
Read the full letter:
- Follow BENEFITS NEWS on Twitter.
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