Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about the lack of an uplift to legacy benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I completely agree that legacy benefits, such as Employment and Support Allowance and Jobseeker’s Allowance, should be uprated in line with Universal Credit and Tax Credits. I have raised this many times in my capacity as Shadow Minister for Disabled People.
Back in May, the Government said it would not increase legacy benefits on the grounds that it would take several months to change the system. However, we are now well into the pandemic and beyond the point where that uplift could have come online. Not increasing legacy benefits discriminates against disabled people in particular, as the Disability Benefits Consortium has pointed out.
In addition to increasing legacy benefits, I believe the Government needs to reconsider the planned cut to Universal Credit which is due to come next April. Further measures also need to be taken immediately to address people’s most pressing needs – the Government needs to commit to ending the five-week wait for Universal Credit, to abolish the benefit cap and the two-child limit in Universal Credit and Tax Credits, and remove the savings limit.
The immediate priority is to make sure that people get the support they need during the pandemic. However, there is much more work to do – longer term, I believe we need a new social security system which provides a proper social security safety net and has dignity and respect at its heart.