The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty, Philip Alston, has published his highly critical report on poverty in the UK based on his recent visit.
His findings focus on the impact of austerity, benefit cuts and problems with Universal Credit.
Much of this is relevant to the findings of recent research commissioned by Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) from the highly respected Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University. This found that blind and partially sighted people generally struggled to achieve a Minimum Income Standard that would enable them to fully participate in society. This could make it difficult to get by, restrict social participation and create insecurity and anxiety.
TPT also contributed substantially to the evidence on Universal Credit (UC) submitted by the Disability Benefits Consortium to the UN inquiry. We were particularly concerned with the intention – over the next few years – to stop existing benefits and requiring new claims for UC to be made within a month. We could see large numbers ending up without money because of obstacles and delays in making a claim.
We have argued for an orderly transition, with no closing of existing claims until the UC claim is in place. The Government has now made concessions – three months to claim UC, alongside a 2-month run-on of most existing benefits. This is welcome but there is still a way to go before it can be called an orderly transition. We shall continue to make the case.