The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), a network of over 100 organisations, is petitioning the UK Government to increase all out of work benefits during the current pandemic.
At present, the government has made the decision to increase Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits by £20, but the DBC say this is “discriminatory,” with millions of disabled people on different out of work benefits not receiving the uplift.
The DCB are calling on people to sign a petition to ensure people living with a disability are not left behind.
Ella Abraham, Z2K’s policy and campaigns officer and campaigns co-chair of the DBC, says: “The Government are discriminating against millions of disabled people on other benefits by choosing to only ‘focus on new claimants’ on Universal Credit.
“We stand with the hundreds of disability charities and activists demanding The Government immediately give all benefits the same COVID-19 emergency £20 increase that Universal Credit has seen to ensure the safety of everyone.”
Alongside the perceived discrimination, many people in the disabled community are seeing increased costs during the current situation.
Alongside a petition supported by MPs and the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, the DBC released results of a survey of over 200 disabled people which found nearly all (95 per cent) had seen an increase in their costs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, 92 per cent admitted they were struggling with additional food costs – and others said they were having to find the money needed to pay people to collect food and medicine, and higher heating and water bills as they were forced to shield at home.
One respondent adds: “I cannot carry shopping home, due to a chronic illness impacting my spine. As online orders from supermarkets are completely booked, I have had to find alternative shops to order from for home delivery, all of which are considerably more expensive.”
This is a strange time for everyone in the UK, and worldwide, but support for those who desperately need it is essential.
Anastasia Berry, policy manager at the MS Society and policy co-chair of the DBC, says: “More than 130,000 people live with MS in the UK, and many in receipt of out of work benefits were struggling financially before the COVID-19 crisis.
“Now, hit with extra costs to survive the pandemic, the Government’s decision to only increase Universal Credit means they are discriminating against the people who need support most.
“MS is relentless, painful and disabling, and we know around a third living with the condition rely on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) because they are unable to work. We urgently need to see an increase in ESA and other legacy benefits so people with MS, and other disabled people, aren’t left behind.”