Why Universal Credit may have meant a drop in income for disabled benefit claimants

Q. I recently moved to a new area that is live for Universal Credit and is in a full service area, so I made a claim as advised.

Before the move I was claiming Employment & Support Allowance (I believe I was in the Support Group) and I also got standard PIP for both care and mobility.

Disabled people may have lost benefits after switching to Universal Credit.

Disabled people may have lost benefits after switching to Universal Credit.

My ESA used to include a Severe Disability Premium.

Following my transfer to Universal Credit it appears I’ve lost about £44 a week in benefit and when I’ve checked my Universal Credit the Severe Disability Premium is not included in the calculation.

I still live by myself at the new address and no one is claiming Carer’s Allowance for me.

Is this correct, as I was led to believe that a transfer to Universal Credit would not lead to a drop in benefit income?

A It is likely your Universal Credit calculation is correct and not an error, as Universal Credit does not yet include a Severe Disability Premium.

This was pointed out to the Government and DWP when the benefit was first introduced, as many disabled people noticed an immediate drop in their benefit income.

Unfortunately no action was taken to correct this and the Government had to be taken to court to try to rectify the shortfall.

The case was successful and steps will be taken to introduce new legislation to introduce the Severe Disability Premium into the Universal Credit system.

At the time of writing there is no date given, nor do we know if the financial value of the premium will be the same as it were under the legacy benefit.

Our advice at this time would be to get the DWP to confirm you will be eligible to have the premium added to your benefit when the new legislation is introduced.

You can do this by leaving a note on your Universal Credit journal confirming you still get PIP for care, you live by yourself and no one claims Carer’s Allowance.

This should also protect any arrears you may be due, as again there has been no confirmation if the premium will be backdated to the date you transferred to Universal Credit or limited to the date from when the corrective legislation has been applied.

As always, seek advice to protect and maximise your claim and entitlement.