Boris ‘should walk a mile in our shoes’ – PIP recipient on the Universal Credit £20 uplift

Martin Lewis discusses universal credit help for those on PIP

When you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters.Sometimes they’ll include recommendations for other related newsletters or services we offer.Our Privacy Notice explains more about how we use your data, and your rights.You can unsubscribe at any time.

It’s nearly a year on since Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the first UK lockdown measures, with the stringent rules being intended to slow the spread of coronavirus. Aware of her own health and immune system, Melissa*, 41, knew early on in the outbreak that “it was not a wise move” for her to “go out and socialise”.

As well as having to shell out for supermarket delivery fees and transport costs for hospital appointments, up until recently – when she received the official shielding letter – Melissa has had to pay for pharmacy deliveries too.

She explains, due to the nature of her medication, volunteers couldn’t go pick up the prescription she needs on her behalf.

“I only recently got the information that I was on the shielding list so I was having to pay for stuff out of pocket,” she says. “There was no NHS help for me.”

Melissa says she’s “incredibly blessed” that her adult children live nearby, “and they’ve stepped in wherever they can”.

“The thing that’s always in the back of my mind is, ‘What about the people that don’t have someone close by who can step up and help?’

“I’m in a very good position in that my daughters are wonderful, because they’ve grown up with me not having the best of health.

“So they’re used to the way I am and they’ve stayed close.”

What would an extra £20 per week have meant to her during this time?

“It would take that pressure off,” she says.

“I wouldn’t have to worry about when the next prescription’s due, I wouldn’t have to worry about the hospital.

“Because I would have that little bit extra. I would have that little bit there to say, ‘Oh that can cover that.'”

Melissa currently gets the Severe Disability Premium, and says she was recommended not to move to Universal Credit because of this.

“That’s what infuriates me because it’s not that I’m making a conscious choice to stay on the legacy benefits and not not go to Universal Credit,” she tells, during an exclusive interview.

“As it stands, if I was to move to Universal Credit, before the uplift, I would have lost nearly £100 per month.”

It’d be a noticeable reduction in income for many, and the impact would be clearly felt on Melissa.

“I have chronic pain so I have mobility problems,” she says. “It would’ve reduced the amount of taxis I could get which would have meant not going places.

“I would’ve had to restrict things like hospital appointments.

“I sat down and thought about it and then they said people with Severe Disability Premiums shouldn’t move, because they were trying to sort out Universal Credit to have an equivalent to Severe Disability Premium. And then that was it. We haven’t heard anything else.”

Melissa says she thinks thousands of other people could be in a similar situation.

“It isn’t a choice,” she says. “The only way that I would be moved across is a change in circumstances.

There’s been some remarks that the Government should live on the same amount benefits recipients receive for a period of time.

“I absolutely think they should be forced to,” Melissa says.

“I think it should be mandatory that they have to live a month the way we do, without being able to call for a Crown car to take them to Waitrose or Marks and Spencer.

“They should walk a mile in our shoes before they are allowed to judge us.

“I think that should start with them having to fill out the forms because if they had to fill out the paperwork I do every couple of years, they would realise it’s really not that simple and it’s really not that easy.”

The 119,000-signature-strong petition ‘Don’t Leave Disabled People Behind’ was handed to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak in November last year.

It’s now been 11 months since the Universal Credit uplift was announced by the Chancellor.

“They found the money to give an enormous portion of the people in receipt of benefits an extra £1,000 for the last year,” Melissa says.

“They found the money to do that. And they can’t find the money to do that for those of us on legacy benefits?

“I find that really difficult to believe that they can’t do it.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to supporting disabled people through every stage of this pandemic and have worked hard to provide uninterrupted access to disability benefits and further financial support – making £1.3 billion available to local authorities to help address pressures on local services including adult social care.

“That’s in addition to spending £280bn to safeguard jobs, boosting welfare support by billions and introducing the Covid Winter Grant Scheme fund to help vulnerable families.”

*Name has been changed.

Source: Read Full Article