Rishi Sunak just made a shocking DWP admission

Rishi Sunak on the Money Show and the DWP logo
Support us and go ad-free

Rishi Sunak just made perhaps the most damning admission of the 2021 Budget. His comment was about the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift. And it actually exposed why he and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) haven’t done the same for legacy benefits. In short, workers are worthy of extra money. Sick and disabled people are not.

The £20 DWP Universal Credit uplift

Campaigner and financial journalist Martin Lewis interviewed Sunak on the Thursday 4 March edition of Lewis’s ITV Money Show. The host was putting the public’s questions to Sunak. And during the show, the question of the DWP £20 Universal Credit uplift came up.

The Canary reported that in his Budget, the chancellor said the uplift was staying until September. But as we noted:

Some people still claim so-called ‘legacy benefits’. These include Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). And the government has not increased their social security payments in line with the Universal Credit/Working Tax Credits uplift.

The Oldham Times reported there are 2.2 million legacy benefit claimants, and that “three quarters of these are disabled people”.

On the Money Show Lewis read out a question on this. And Sunak’s answer was damning.

Up the workers

Lewis said that Clare asked:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

I’m [a] shielding adult; disabled son for nearly a year; huge extra expenses due to Covid. Why have people who are on legacy disability benefits… not been included in the extra £20 a week [uplift]

Sunak made it very clear why he and the DWP had not uplifted legacy benefits. He said:

The original rationale for doing the temporary uplift in Universal Credit [UC] was to help… people in work but on lower incomes, whose incomes were going to be affected by the crisis. And it’s UC and Working Tax Credit that are the benefits that capture the vast, vast, vast majority if not all of those people.

What he said is not true. First, under ESA people can do permitted work. This is where they can work up to 16 hours a week and earn up to £140. Also, some people aren’t on legacy benefits, but they still claim social security.

Destitute and disabled? Move to “UC”

Back to the Money Show. Sunak then repeated his line on workers:

The intervention for UC was to help those in work

In other words, the Tories think sick and disabled people don’t need extra money due to the pandemic. But campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) said this is not true. For example, sick and disabled people have needed things like extra PPE and help with the costs of food deliveries. So, as DPAC said:

disabled people’s unavoidable expenditure has sharply risen as a direct result of the pandemic

So, what if you’re sick and disabled, on DWP legacy benefits and are destitute? Sunak’s answer was:

it is also possible for those that can… [to] transition to UC

But as Jules Pick tweeted:

A two-tier welfare state

Here’s the thing. Sunak said before that the £20 uplift was for “low-income households”. So, his admission that the extra money was actually for “workers” is revealing. Because it makes clear that the Tories still think sick and disabled people are “second class citizens”. As Rosina Cantaldo tweeted:

But this is not new.

Entrenching a “human catastrophe”

In 2016, the UN accused successive UK, Tory-led governments and the DWP of “grave” and “systematic” violations of sick and disabled people’s human rights. The chair of the investigating committee went further. She accused them of creating a “human catastrophe” for sick and disabled people. She also said the situation in the UK had become “life threatening” for many.

Nothing has changed. In fact, Tory contempt for sick and disabled people is now entrenched. It was already violating their most basic human rights. And now, during a global crisis, it has made the “human catastrophe” even worse. Sunak implying workers are more worthy of financial support than sick and disabled people is the thin end of the wedge. Over a decade of human rights abuses has led to this point.

Featured image via ITV Hub – screengrab and Wikimedia

Support us and go ad-free

We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support

The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.

The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.

So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.

Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. The Department of War on People has throughout Austerity, culled some 100 000 disabled people, deemed not worthy of support or the care they deserve in a so-called democracy. The Pandemic Cull similarly has seen some 150 000 citizens die through ‘herd immunity’and criminal neglect. Plague Island is an open prison run by The Chumocracy for The Chumocracy. An island where multi-millionaires can furlough themselves and receive cash handouts from The Treasury. Not withstanding, Department of War on People Operatives/Assassins have received some £43m in bonus payments for their cleansing programme. There is plenty of money around when it is used for nefarious purposes but not for humane reasons. Seig heil.

      1. Thank you Red Spear, my MP received £10,000 for adjusting to ‘working from home’.
        When I pointed that was my annual income, he immediately claimed he had not taken it.
        Well, Mr Buckland I said can I have the money instead to repair my central heating so I can keep warm in the winter
        Er no, he said that is from another budget.
        Well just claim it then and gift it to me then I replied, after all I am the person you will want a vote from to keep your job.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.