100 groups demand £20 benefits boost for disabled to end ‘2-tier welfare state’

People on ‘legacy’ benefits – most of them sick or disabled – were left behind with just a 1.7% rise (Image: Getty)

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More than 100 charities and groups have demanded a benefits boost for 2million people left behind in the coronavirus pandemic.

People on ‘legacy’ benefits – most of them sick or disabled – were left behind with just a 1.7% rise when Universal Credit rose by £20 a week in April.

Despite repeated calls Tory ministers have refused to boost the other benefits, including Jobseekers Allowance and ESA, by £20 a week to match.

Campaigners say that has left a “discriminatory two-tier welfare state”.

Ministers are also not yet guaranteeing the Universal Credit boost – which was made for one year only – will be made permanent beyond April 2021.

Today the Disability Benefits Consortium, a network of more than 100 organisations, will hand a 119,000-strong petition to Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Many disabled people are left out
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

They urge him to U-turn and boost legacy benefits by £20 a week in next week’s spending review.

Kevin Whitworth, who suffered brain damage in a fall 10 years ago, said he hasn’t been able to afford food for a cooked meal for seven months.

He told the Consortium: “Money is tight, and I’m living off of cereal. Having an extra £20 would mean that I could eat proper meals again.

“It’s really unfair that people like me on older legacy benefits aren’t getting the same help those on Universal Credit are getting – we need money as well.”

Ministers have previously said people can choose to move onto Universal Credit if they think they’ll be better off.

Officials have also claimed their systems would be too complicated to make a swift increase to legacy payments.

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Ella Abraham of the Z2K Trust, co-chair of the Consortium, said disabled people had ended up in “real hardship”.

She added: “It is unacceptable for the Government to maintain that only those who have had to claim Universal Credit as a result of the pandemic are in financial need.

“The Government must take this opportunity in the upcoming Spending Review to act now, end this discriminatory two tier welfare state and ensure that the 2 million people on legacy benefits receive this vital extra support and are no longer left behind."

A government spokesperson said: “We are wholly committed to supporting disabled people through the pandemic, boosting welfare support by £9.3 billion to help those most in need, introducing the Covid Winter Support Package for those on low incomes and making £3.7 billion available to local authorities to help address pressures on local services including adult social care.”

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