Labour proposes to scrap Universal Credit: MND Association response

The Labour Party has announced its intentions to scrap Universal Credit, the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) flagship welfare reform policy.

Universal Credit is a new benefits system which has been gradually rolled-out across the UK to replace six existing benefits, now being referred to as ‘legacy’ benefits. The benefits now incorporated under Universal Credit include: Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Working Tax Credit.

Although the intention behind Universal Credit is to simplify the benefits system, there have been and continue to be significant problems. The Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association previously commissioned Policy in Practice to analyse the impact of Universal Credit for people affected by MND, which found issues with both the application process and the financial impact. We are concerned these issues will increasingly affect people living with MND as those on existing ‘legacy’ benefits are moved to Universal Credit over the coming years.

We are also concerned about the impact claiming Universal Credit will have on people living with terminal illnesses. Those with longer than six months to live won’t be able to access the Special Rules fast-track process. This means they will have to undergo a Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and other forms of work-related activity, such as going to a Job Centre to speak with a Work Coach about career aspirations. We believe this is highly inappropriate.

We welcome the recognition shown by Labour that Universal Credit has significant problems that urgently need fixing, particularly for people living with a disability and/or a terminal illness. However, if reforms are going to happen, we believe care should be taken not to create further problems for people who currently rely on this support.

As an Association we will continue to campaign for a fair, efficient, compassionate and humane welfare system, that operates in a way that works well for people affected by MND.

If you are living with or affected by MND and require assistance with Universal Credit, you can contact the Association’s Benefits Advice Service.

For further information and support contact our MND Connect helpline

mndconnect 0808 802 6262