DWP insults Disabled People, Carers and Unemployed by fully explaining why they did not deserve the weekly £20 coronavirus emergency payments

After an FOI request [1] the Social Security Advisory Committee finally publishes the 2020 minutes of it’s meetings. They contain the truly insulting reasons why the DWP considers people on legacy benefits (ESA, JSA and Carers Allowance) do not deserve the £20 coronavirus emergency paymens provided to millions of Universal Credit (UC) claimants, like the 3.2 million that claimed UC during the UK wide lockdown.

The DWP suggest that the reason it did not make £20 payments to disabled people on ESA, Carers on Carers Allowance and unemployed on Jobseeker’s Allowance was because they are not facing the “most financial disruption” [like newly unemployed workers] during the covid19 crisis, the IT system was too “complex” and how “Safeguarding the benefit system was their priority“.

Social Security weekly payments:
Universal Credit – £94.50 per week – £79.08 Single and under 25
(including the £20 covid19 payment)
Carers Allowance – £67.25 (For providing a minimum of 35 hours a week of care)
Jobseeker’s Alowance – £74.35 (Up to age 24 £58.90)

Social Security Advisory Committee
Minutes of the meeting held on 13 May 2020

(a) Why was the treatment for legacy benefits inconsistent with Universal Credit (UC)? What was the rationale for the increase to the work allowance in Universal Credit (£20 perweek), and no increasefor legacybenefits?

The Government made decisions that could be quickly and effectively implemented. The Universal Credit IT system was more flexible than the legacy benefits systems that had complex interdependencies and interactions. The Government’s view was to have a balanced package across the board and made changes to the benefit system to allow it to prioritise and pay claimants quickly.

(b) Could you elaborate on the “people experiencing themost financial disruption”, for example in Universal Credit?

A significant number of people were claiming and were new to the system. [like newly unemployed workers] New claimants appeared to be facing the most financial disruption at the current time. The Chancellor of the Exchequer also made the decision to increase Working Tax Credits(WTC) to help those still in work.

(c) Was the rationale because the previous level of benefits were not enough?

The current increases were to provide additional support for people who were facing the most financial disruption from the effects of Covid-19 outbreak.

(d) What was the justification for not increasing Jobseeker’s Allowance(JSA) and Employment and Support Allowance(ESA)?

Ministers hadmade their decisions and their reasons had been given. Safeguarding the benefit system was their priority.

(e) How would it be differentiated to give people more money and/or support (Carers Allowanceand other benefits)?

The Government’s first priority for carers was to make sure that they did not inadvertently drop off Carers Allowance, so it had relaxed break in care rules and allowed “emotional support” to count towards the 35 hour a week care threshold. DWP continued to monitor the position. In terms of the rate of benefits paid to carers,the Government believed that most help should be provided to those carers in most need through Universal Credit which was means tested. Carers Allowance was not means tested (but was uprated by Consumer Prices Index(CPI)) and so recipients might have other financial resources to help support them. Carers on Universal Credit would benefit from the increase the Government had made.The extent to which people would benefit was based on specific combinations of benefits people were entitled to. There was a complex interaction between benefit systems that needed to be considered. The Government was responding to a rapidly developing environment that could change.”

Source: May 2020 Minutes – The Social Security Advisory Committee – accessed 14/11/2020

Reference

[1] “The minutes of SSAC should be public. They have not been published for over a year which is a disgrace.”
Source: ‘How the ” emotionally attached ” architect of Universal Credit will now be its chief DWP scrutineer‘ 18/10/20

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