I share many of the concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on disabled people. As Scope has stated, over eight in ten disabled people said they were worried about the effect the pandemic was having on their life. It is vital that we learn the lessons of the pandemic and the impact it has had on disabled people.
I completely agree with Scope that the cut to Universal Credit (UC) in April must be cancelled. It is very concerning that the Trussell Trust has warned that 20% of people on UC have said they are very likely to have to turn to a foodbank for help if the £20 weekly uplift is removed.
The UK Government has said it is waiting until the Budget in March before making future welfare decisions. It must give certainty to families by cancelling the cut to UC.
I also agree that legacy benefits, such as Employment and Support Allowance and Jobseeker’s Allowance, should be uprated in line with UC. As more than 100 charities have highlighted, not increasing legacy benefits discriminates against disabled people in particular.
The UK Government will be bringing forward a National Disability Strategy, although it has been delayed due to COVID-19. Rather than allowing the publication date to be pushed back, I believe the impact of COVID-19 on disabled people makes its publication all the more vital.
I firmly believe this strategy should be forward-thinking, and it must ensure every UK Government department delivers on the principle that disabled people can live a fully independent life. This should include accessible transport systems, inclusive housing, and a social security system with compassion at its heart.
We must create a more inclusive, fairer society for disabled people.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this important issue.