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Government to change Universal Credit rules to protect disabled adults facing cuts

Monday 11th June 2018

Last week the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions announced a package of changes to Universal Credit.

This includes measures to protect disabled adults who are facing cuts in payments when moving onto Universal Credit.

However, there appears to be no plan to protect families with disabled children in the same way.


The government intends to exempt claimants who receive the severe disability premium (an extra payment for disabled adults that is being scrapped under Universal Credit) from having to claim Universal Credit even if they have a change of circumstances.

Instead, these disabled adults will not be asked to claim Universal Credit until after they qualify for transitional protection. A system of transitional protection is due to come into place from July 2019 onwards and this should ensure that those who would be worse off under Universal Credit get top-up payments to make sure their income does not drop.

Disabled adults who have already moved onto Universal Credit and who have already seen their income cut through the loss of the severe disability premium will start to get regular ongoing payments to make up the money they have lost. They will also receive a lump sum to cover the money they have lost since first claiming universal credit.


Contact's welfare rights worker Derek Sinclair said: "Contact welcomes the fact that the government intends to protect adults from cuts to disability payments under Universal Credit.

"However we're bitterly disappointed that families with disabled children will not be protected in the same way. The government now urgently needs to take action to protect families with disabled children who are also facing cuts to disability payments under Universal Credit".

Under Universal Credit, a payment known as the lower disabled child element has been halved. As a result, families who are moved onto Universal Credit currently face a cut of £1,656 a year in the amount they receive for their disabled child.

This applies to all disabled children except for those on the highest rate of the Disability Living Allowance care component (or the equivalent rate of Personal Independence Payment) and those who are registered blind.


Contact is currently campaigning for three changes to Universal Credit rules, which are unfair to families with disabled children:

  • Reverse cuts to the lower disabled child element under Universal Credit, which will see 100,000 families with disabled children worse off by £1,750 each year.
  • Remove rules that mean Universal Credit is stopped when a disabled child is in hospital for six months.
  • Remove rules that mean Universal Credit is stopped when a disabled child lives away from home such as in residential school.

We need your help to campaign for these changes!

More than 4,000 people have signed our petition to the prime minister. Join them and help us stop cuts to payments for disabled children under Universal Credit, by signing our petition today.


We are keen to gather experiences of anyone who has been moved onto Universal Credit and experienced a cut to the amount that they receive for their disabled child.

If you have been affected and would be willing to share your story, we would love to hear from you. Please email us at press@contact.org.uk       


Visit our Universal Credit webpage for more information about Universal Credit and who is expected to claim it.

You can also download our  Universal Credit - the essentials factsheet [PDF] or our factsheet on  how Universal Credit affects families with disabled children [PDF].

If you are affected by any of these issues and need advice, get in touch with our helpline.