Treasury blanks disabled people – Letters to Chancellor telling of financial hardship turned away

Treasury blanks disabled people – Letters to Chancellor telling of financial hardship turned away

The following article has been taken from the DPAC website and is well worth reading for all disabled people and their families and friends. Disabled people need to be united at the moment as we search for equality.


On Monday 1 March disabled campaigners tried to make a last ditch attempt to persuade the Treasury to extend the £20 Universal Credit uplift to legacy benefits.

Nearly 200 envelopes containing testimonies and concerns about the government’s failure to extend the uplift were turned away from the Treasury alongside a wheelchair donated by the campaign group, Disabled People Against Cuts [DPAC], designed to help him understand the extra unavoidable costs that disabled people and carers have been hit with since March last year.

Unable to leave their homes, campaigners organised the deliveries ahead of the Spring budget later this week to communicate the desperate financial situation facing many of the 2.2 million claimants still on legacy benefits. Three quarters of these are disabled people (1). Items attached to each wheelchair referenced essentials that disabled people are having to go without, including a blanket (heating); an incontinence pad (bathing, laundry and medicines); a face mask (PPE); an empty packet of cuppa soup (nutritious food) and an empty purse (enough money to live on).

Similar deliveries were also rejected by 10 Downing Street and the Department for Work and Pensions, although the DWP did accept a letter addressed to Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Thérèse Coffey, with a copy of a document published today by DPAC collating testimonies from benefit claimants and key findings from recent reports evidencing the need to retain and extend the uplift (2).

Given the disproportionate mortality rates for disabled people from COVID, many have been shielding for close to a full year now (3). This has driven their costs up considerably.

“I’ve only managed one meal a day and fortnightly food deliveries during lockdown because other costs (mostly PPE for my care staff and delivery costs) have gone up so much.”

“£100 taxi fares for transport to hospital for appointments and surgery because patient transport which I normally use not running only for cancer/dialysis. No money left for food.”

“Being clinically extremely vulnerable- I’m supposed to shield at home- this has led to increased shopping costs as I have to fill to a minimum basket requirement or face a penalty, and have to pay delivery costs on top.”

“Having to pay for a plumber when the Housing Association wouldn’t come out to an essential repair (broken toilet).”

“Confusion, frustration and distress… I don’t understand why only those on UC are entitled to [the uplift].”

A survey of disabled people on legacy benefits conducted by the Disability Benefits Consortium found that two thirds (66%) have had to go without essentials like food, heating or medication as a result of increased costs since the pandemic started and nearly half (44%) said they had fallen behind on financial commitments like rent, mortgage payments, or household bills (4).

Additional financial support would make an enormous difference to disabled people’s lives. Our members gave us examples of what it would mean to them if the £20 uplift was applied to legacy benefits.

“I could buy proper incontinence pads instead of sanitary pads which leak.”

“Could put the heating on earlier and not suffer the arthritis pain I am because I only put the heating on after 6pm”

“I could add credit to my phone so I could talk to someone as I haven’t spoken to anyone for months as I am shielding and do not have family.”

“I would be able to bathe more”

“On chemo..need to eat properly”

“it would make washing a permanent feature in our home”

“Help towards some of the extra expenses, deliveries more fuel bills, more everything, when you cannot go out”

“It would help me look after my child and meet the additional costs brought by the pandemic, such as extra heating, food and schooling costs, such as ink and paper.”

“It would mean a little peace of mind, not constantly worrying about bills, food, can I have the heating on or not for 20 minutes, it would help to remove some of the financial stress and worry that just makes your illness/disability and mental health worse. The last year has been so tough, coping with illness during a pandemic, lockdowns and isolation have made me worse than I already was which is challenging enough, but not getting the uplift like those on universal credit just heaped on more stress.”

The testimonies also highlight the poverty that many disabled people were living in even before the pandemic (5):

“We don’t have a washing machine – I’d like to get one but can’t afford one at the moment. £20 extra a week may help me to save quicker to buy one – given that I had a colostomy over Xmas this is now more of a necessity!”

“Make a dent in my overdraft, maybe fix the kitchen tap or the broken bathroom light…it may go on our food budget or my annual haircut. …I could use it on so many things”

“I would be able to afford all the toiletries and cleaning products that I need and buy second-hand clothes to replace the ones I have with holes in them.”

The Department for Work and Pensions has said there is no need to apply the uplift to legacy claimants because benefits will be increased by 37p per week in April 2021 and because they have the option of moving over to Universal Credit.

Neither of these options help address the situation.

The 37p increase is designed to reflect higher costs of living due to inflation, not the pandemic. It represents a mere 0.5% increase while state pensions will rise by 2.5%. It isn’t enough even to buy a single protective mask.

As the DWP knows, many disabled people are financially worse off on Universal Credit due to the removal of the Disability Premia which have been the subject of judicial review. They would lose out by a move to UC.

There is also the question of how disabled people without access to the internet or support to navigate the benefit system are supposed to move over to UC with the operations of welfare advice and community support organisations so heavily restricted by the pandemic.

There is widespread support for the extension of the £20 uplift among charities, Parliamentary committees and thinktanks (6). A petition started by the Disability Benefits Consortium now has over 121,000 signatures (7). Another set up through the Parliament Petitions Committee has over 11,000 signatures (8).

A spokesperson for Disabled People Against Cuts said:

“The government often claims to protect what it calls ‘the most vulnerable’ but once again it is precisely those who are ‘most vulnerable’ whose needs are being ignored. This has created a two tier social security system, giving the distinct impression that disabled people’s suffering is of no concern to this government. We’ve heard denials that the pandemic has led to extra costs for disabled people so we thought we’d explain it in a very clear way. The response we got today demonstrates that the government has absolutely no interest in even knowing what the right thing to do for disabled people is.”

The deliveries were organised as part of a day of action called by Disabled People Against Cuts with support from People Before Profit, Homes 4 All, the People’s Assembly, Unite Community and the NEU Disabled Members’ Committee.


For more information or to speak to someone directly affected by the lack of legacy uplift contact Ellen Clifford on 07505144371 or email:


Notes for Editors

The document contains hundreds of testimonies from benefit claimants with and without the uplift was included in the deliveries. The document also contains comments from members of the public calling for the uplift to be applied to legacy benefits as well as key findings from a number of recent reports evidencing the need for the government to take action over this issue.

The testimonies are anonymous, such is the fear that disabled people now have of retribution from the Department for Work and Pensions. In 2018, the Work and Pensions Committee found that “a pervasive lack of trust is undermining the entire operation [of the benefits system]”.

  • Disabled people are most at risk from coronavirus as proved by the mortality statistics: according to the Office for National Statistics, 59.5% of Covid-related deaths from January until November 2020 were disabled people.

  • A report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission published in 2018 found that disabled people were nearly three times more likely to live in severe material deprivation than non-disabled people.

Nearly half of all people living in poverty in the UK are affected by disability.

UK Poverty 2019/20: Social security | JRF

Even after the uplift, Universal Credit claimants are receiving just 43.4% of the Minimum Income Standard (MIS) – the amount calculated by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as the minimum required for an acceptable standard of living. Legacy claimants are receiving just 33.9% of the MIS.


6) Including the Work and Pensions Select Committee, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Poverty and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Health in All Policies.

This position is also supported by Trust for London, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation; Action for Children; The Association of Charitable Organisations; Barnardo’s; Become; Bevan Foundation; Centrepoint; Christians Against Poverty; Church Action on Poverty; Citizens Advice; Child Poverty Action Group; Disability Benefits Consortium (a network of over 100 disability organisations); End Child Poverty Coalition; The Equality Trust; The Fawcett Society; Feeding Britain; Gingerbread; Greater Manchester Poverty Action; Homeless Link; Independent Food Aid Network; Joseph Rowntree Foundation; Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales; Macmillan Cancer Support; The Mighty Creatives; Mind; Motor Neurone Disease Association; The MS Society; National AIDS Trust; National Children’s Bureau; National Education Union; National Housing Federation; Neighbourly; New Horizons; North East Child Poverty Commission; Nourish Scotland; Oxfam GB; The Poverty Alliance; Rethink Mental Illness; The Rt Revd Christopher Foster, Bishop of Portsmouth; The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham; The Runnymede Trust; The Salvation Army; Save the Children; Scope; Shelter; StepChange; Transforming Lives for Good; The Trussell Trust; Trust for London; Turn2Us; UK Women’s Budget Group; Voluntary Organisations Disability Group; Wales Council for Voluntary Action / Cyngor Gweithredu Gwirfoddol Cymru; Women’s Regional Consortium Northern Ireland’ Z2K




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