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Benefits Rates: People with Disabilities

Volume 715: debated on Monday 6 June 2022

We will spend more than £64 billion this year on benefits to support disabled people and people with health conditions. Claimants will also get one-off support worth up to £1,200 this year, including the new £650 cost of living payment for people on means-tested benefits and £150 for people on disability benefits, to help with additional costs.

The cost of living crisis is disproportionately affecting disabled people. More than half of those living in poverty in this country are either disabled themselves, or in a household where there is a disabled person. My constituents in that situation regularly come to me and say that the help they are receiving from the Government is not enough, even with that welcome increase. Will the Government consider specifically targeted further help to help alleviate the pressures they face?

I share the hon. Lady’s passion for this issue and her concern on behalf of her constituents. That is exactly why the Government have already acted: we have provided generous support in seeking to level up opportunity and improve the everyday experience for people with disabilities. What we have just been discussing comes on top of the package already announced, worth more than £22 billion, from the spring statement. We are clear that delivering this important additional support is an absolute priority; the DWP disability cost of living payments will accordingly be made by September, and other payments sooner than that, because we recognise the need here. However, I would take a step back and look at the overall approach, noting for example the agreement from the Resolution Foundation that this approach is the right one.

Thousands of disabled people are due to lose £150 because the Government are removing their eligibility for the warm home discount. The Chancellor has announced that they will receive an additional £150 in his cost of living emergency package, but robbing Peter to pay Paul merely puts disabled people back where they started. How does the Minister think this does anything to address their cost of living crisis?

The shadow Minister needs to look at this in the round, because we have a set of cost of living payments designed to support the households with the lowest incomes. That is the right approach, as I have cited from the Resolution Foundation, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation also says that this is a very welcome way of doing it because it targets support to where it is most needed. In addition, we are recognising how disabled people do have further costs, and that is why we are also putting in place the £150 that is targeted on those with the means-tested lowest incomes.

I am really not sure that the Minister heard my question; maybe she has been rather distracted. Some disabled people will not be better off. The Government’s disability strategy was declared unlawful by the High Court, and NatCen Social Research’s report on health and disability benefits clearly showed the poverty that many disabled people are living in. Does the Minister not think it is time to finally start listening to disabled people and addressing their cost of living crisis?

We are. It is unfortunate that the hon. Lady cannot engage with the wider point that I am making around the nature of means-tested benefits—for example, the many on unemployment and support allowance or universal credit who are also disabled and who will benefit from the approach we are taking.