Money

People with Parkinson's made to claim Universal Credit

Date

On 22 July, without any debate in parliament, the government passed regulations that mean people with Parkinson's can now be moved on to Universal Credit from other benefits.

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a new means-tested benefit for people of working age. It is currently being phased in. It will replace six existing benefits with a single payment for those who are out of work or on a low income.

It has been mired in problems, with people often losing money when they move to it. 

Yesterday's regulations mean people with Parkinson's are now at risk of decreasing income as they're made to move over. 

The new regulations will be tested with a pilot in Harrogate where people will be moved on to the new benefit immediately. Nationwide roll-out is then likely to follow. 

Government forces through changes

In last minute changes, the Department for Work and Pensions altered these new regulations so they could come into force without a debate in parliament.

This political dodge means the regulations won't face much needed scrutiny to ensure they protect the most vulnerable. 

Secretary of State Amber Rudd said she doesn't "intend to stop the benefits of anyone who participates in the pilot". This isn't a guarantee that no one will lose out when they're moved on to the new benefit - a very real worry for many.

Parkinson's UK Senior Policy and Campaigns Adviser Michael Griffin said: "It's completely unacceptable that the government is not guaranteeing vulnerable claimants will not lose out because of these changes they're rushing through. People in already difficult situations risk having money taken away from them.

"Once someone is moved on to the new benefit, they could lose their transitional protection if they have a change in circumstances, such as moving to a new house. This will leave some people with Parkinson's living in poverty.

"To help prevent this we're calling on the government to introduce a disability element to Universal Credit, which would replace the lost disability premiums, so disabled people aren't left deciding if they should pay for food or medicine."

Share your experience of Universal Credit

If you've been affected by Universal Credit, especially if you've lost money as a result of being forced to claim it, tell us about your experiences. Please contact Michael Griffin on [email protected]

Join our Campaigns Network

Show your support for our campaign to fix Universal Credit by joining our Campaigns Network.

Questions about benefits

Our helpline and local advisers are here to answer any questions you have about Parkinson's, including accessing benefits and support.