Anti-poverty charity, Z2K, welcomes the Work and Pensions Committee’s new report on the DWP’s response to the coronavirus outbreak

"Disabled people, charities, the Government’s own Social Security Advisory Committee and now the cross-party select committee have all called for this injustice to be corrected. Ministers must stop wasting crucial time and extend the emergency increase to all out of work benefits to ensure everyone is kept safe during this pandemic.” Anela Anwar, Z2K's CEO, responds to the Work and Pension Committee's new report on the DWP's response to the coronavirus outbreak

The Work and Pensions Select Committee’s new report is a wake-up call to ministers about the Department for Work & Pensions response to the coronavirus outbreak.  The report sets out the urgent changes DWP must implement now to ensure everyone is adequately supported during this pandemic, as well as the plans it will need to make for the future.

Z2K is pleased to see the Committee draw on the evidence from our casework and suggestions on how the DWP could go further to support the people we help, that we provided in an oral evidence session on the 18th of March and in our written submission to their inquiry.

Among other recommendations, we particularly welcome the Committee’s support for ours and over 100 disability charities’ campaign to give people on legacy benefits an extra £20 a week to cope with Covid-19, with this increase backdated to April 2020 as recommended by the independent Social Security Advisory Committee. As Z2K’s CEO Anela Anwar states:

“It’s been nearly three months since the Government increased Universal Credit by £20 a week.  That was the right thing to do, but it was inexcusable to forget about the two million disabled people and lone parents who have been left without this vital support. Receiving only £1.25 a week more, it’s simply not right that disabled people and lone parents are being forced to make impossible choices between basic essentials like food, heating and medication. Disabled people, charities, the Government’s own Social Security Advisory Committee and now the cross-party select committee have all called for this injustice to be corrected.  Ministers must stop wasting crucial time and extend the emergency increase to all out of work benefits to ensure everyone is kept safe during this pandemic.”

For people like Vincent* who are in receipt of legacy benefits, this £20 a week increase would help to cover the additional Covid-19 costs they have faced. Due to his complex mental and physical health conditions, Vincent has been unable to visit the shops since the outbreak, and as a result has had to pay for food deliveries. He has also spent more money on phone bills – regularly calling friends and relatives who he can no longer physically see is a form of therapy for him as he continues to fight serious depression and anxiety. Vincent has faced similar challenges to those on Universal Credit, but has not received any extra income to help cope with these, and feels discriminated against for not being treated equally. He personally would not be able to move onto Universal Credit because of he receives the Severe Disability Premium.

We hope that the Government will engage meaningfully with this report, and be persuaded to properly address the problems that many people have faced since the outbreak of Covid-19, so that everyone is supported and kept safe both during and beyond this pandemic.

*A pseudonym has been used to protect our client’s identity

 

For further information, please contact Ella Abraham, Policy and Campaigns Officer: ellaabraham@z2k.org