Universal Credit: support for disabled people Contents


1.Universal Credit (UC) rolls six existing (“legacy”) benefits into one single payment. Claimants receive a basic amount (the “standard allowance”) alongside additional payments if, for example, they are disabled, receive support with rent, or have children. Amongst the benefits UC will replace is income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA): a benefit intended to support people with health conditions that limit their capacity to work.1 In 2017/18, over 1.7 million people claimed income-related ESA.2 A further 37% of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimants—147,260 thousand people—told the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP/The Department) in 2016/2017 that they considered themselves disabled.3 This means that the Department is currently supporting in the region of 2 million disabled claimants of out of work benefits.

2.The Government has pledged to increase the number of disabled people who are in work by one million by 2027.4 Disabled people have much lower employment rates than non-disabled people. As of mid-2018, 51.3% of disabled people—3.9 million—were in employment, compared to 81.4% of non-disabled people: a gap of 30.1 percentage points.5 Although the number of disabled people in employment has risen by around 600,000 since 2013, progress on reducing the gap has been slow. Since 2013 the gap has narrowed by just 4.1 percentage points.6

3.To enable the successful rollout of UC and to improve disabled peoples’ employment rates the Department offers a range of support to disabled UC claimants. This includes:

4.We started this phase in our Universal Credit inquiry in response to concerns about the suitability of UC systems and arrangements for disabled people. We also heard wider concerns about the support that is and will be available to disabled UC claimants via JCP, in light of our previous inquiries into the Disability employment gap and Assistive technology and our evidence session on Universal Credit and disabled people.14 We are grateful to everyone who gave evidence to this inquiry.

1 Universal Credit also replaces Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Child and Working Tax Credit and housing benefit.

4 Conservative Party, Forward, together (2017 general election manifesto), 2017, p.57

5 Powell, A., People with disabilities in employment, House of Commons Library briefing paper no.7540, November 2018. Data refers to April-June 2018.

6 Ibid.

8 See Kennedy, S. Permitted work rules, House of Commons Library briefing no. 7909, June 2017,. p.5. Universal Credit claimants who are assessed as having Limited Capability to Work (i.e. those who would have been entitled to ESA) are entitled to a work allowance. Claimants not assessed as having Limited Capability for Work do not receive a work allowance.

9 See Chapter 2.

10 See Work and Pensions Committee, Universal Credit: Managed migration, 20th Report of Session 2017–19, HC 1762, November 2018, p.16

11 Work and Pensions Committee, Universal Support, 18th Report of Session 2017–19, HC-1667.

12 Q25 (James Wolfe)

13 DWP and DH, Improving lives: the future of work, health and disability, Cm 9526, November 2017, pp.16–19

14 Work and Pensions Committee, Disability employment gap, Seventh report of Session 2016–17, HC-56, February 2017; Work and Pensions Committee, Assistive technology, Tenth report of Session 2017–19, HC-673, April 2018; Work and Pensions Committee, oral evidence on Universal Credit, 4 July 2018

Published: 19 December 2018