Issue date
04 Sep 2014

The government has today (Thursday) rejected recommendations by its expert advisers to exempt vulnerable claimants, including disabled people, from a new seven day waiting period for benefits.

In its response to the Social Security Advisory Committee the government agreed that the financial situation of new disabled claimants tends to be worse than for other claimants, but said: “to introduce exemptions [for disabled people and other disadvantaged groups] would reduce the financial savings from the change.”

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s cruel to push disabled people into hardship and debt by making them wait a week before they can claim benefits.

“It’s cynical of the government to seek financial gains from the hardship of people who paid their national insurance to protect their family if ever disaster strikes. This is a food banks-first policy that undermines the safety net and puts us all at risk of hunger and debt if we fall on hard times.

“Things will get worse still under plans to replace benefits with a new Universal Credit, which will be paid a whole month in arrears. This will leave most people waiting more than five weeks before they receive any cash help. It’s right to deal with the minority who abuse the system, but the reality of welfare reforms like these is that they abuse vulnerable people who need support.”

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- The full recommendations of the Social Security and Advisory Committee and the government’s response can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/350772/42915_unnumerbed_Act_accessible.pdf

- The TUC recently launched the Saving Our Safety Net campaign, which is currently calling on the government to scrap the five-week wait for claimants of Universal Credit. More information can be found at http://savingoursafetynet.org/

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk

- Follow the TUC on Twitter: @tucnews

- Congress 2014 will be held in the BT Convention Centre, Liverpool from Sunday 7 September to Wednesday 10 September 2014. Although it is still possible to apply for media accreditation, every pass now costs £75. If you would like to attend go to www.tuc.org.uk/media-credentials and complete the online form. Anyone now applying will need to collect their pass in Liverpool.