Skip to main content

Social Security Benefits: Disabled People

Volume 654: debated on Monday 11 February 2019

14. What steps she is taking to ensure that disabled people can access the social security benefits to which they are entitled. (909120)

Universal credit has been designed with accessibility in mind, and we are committed to providing a tailored service that recognises those with complex needs. We are improving accessibility features and we are adding to the system all the time, allowing people to claim online, by telephone or through home visits. We really want to work with many community partners or those who are supporting people with complex needs to make sure they do get that support.

A year ago I wrote, with 100 MPs from across the House, to the then Secretary of State to highlight what was really faced by so many disabled people, which is a hostile environment in trying to access payments. It now transpires that seven reviews are being undertaken by the DWP into the serious administrative mistakes that have been made, including why 4,600 disabled people have wrongly had their personal independence payments stopped. Will the Minister update us about what progress has been made on those seven reviews and, indeed, about what learnings are going to be taken forward?

We work very hard in the DWP to make sure that decisions are made accurately the first time. However, where there have been mistakes, we work really quickly to remedy them as soon as possible. The hon. Gentleman is quite right that we are going through some wide-scale administrative exercises on both employment and support allowance and PIP, and I regularly provide written ministerial statements to the House—the most recent ones were in December—setting out exactly what we are doing.

23. What steps is the Department taking to improve the general assessment process and the oversight of individual assessors to reduce the rate of cases going to appeal? (909130)

It is absolutely right that we should be focused on making the right decision first time. We have had independent reviews of both the work capability assessment and the PIP assessments, and we are working rigorously to implement each of the steps that have been identified.

Under schedule 2 to the Universal Credit (Managed Migration) Regulations 2018, the compensation for severely disabled people who have moved on to universal credit for the loss of premiums is a flat rate of £80 per month if they have been placed in the limited capability for work group. This is considerably less than the actual loss of income, which is approximately £180 per month. Will the Minister give a full breakdown of how that figure was reached, and will she listen to Labour’s demands and commit to ensuring that the compensation reflects the real loss of those premiums?

I fear that you, Mr Speaker, will not allow me the time I need to answer such a detailed question, so I am very happy to write to the hon. Lady. I do want to say, because I think the whole House will be pleased, that we have now enabled people who have single-tier pensions to be held back on the legacy benefits until the managed migration regulations come into effect.

Under universal credit, for working disabled people to qualify for in-work support, such as the work allowance, one must be found unfit for work under the work capability assessment. This is unlike the legacy social security system, under which a disabled person will qualify for in-work support, such as the disability element of working tax credit, by being in receipt of disability living allowance or PIP. Does the Minister agree with me that it is absurd that a disabled worker must be found unfit for work to qualify for in-work support, and will she commit today to reviewing this?

Universal credit provides tailor-made support for all people, including those with disabilities. Once somebody meets their work coach, they will have a personalised journey to support them into work and to make progress into work, and that can happen even before the work capability assessment is taken.