I know that many disabled people enjoy the benefits that work can bring, but not every disabled person is able to work – and that’s exactly why it is crucial to have a strong support network in place.

Universal Credit is a modern welfare system which replaces the six main out-of-work benefits, including Employment Support Allowance and Housing Benefit, with one monthly payment paid directly into people’s bank accounts.

People who move from the old benefi ts system onto Universal Credit, whose circumstances do not change, will continue to get at least the same level of support. And last month we also strengthened the protection for people who are in receipt of the Severe Disability Premium under ESA, to ensure they get at least the same level of financial support if they experience a change in circumstance.

So, if someone currently in receipt of the Severe Disability Premium experiences a change which may affect their benefit claim, for example forming a new relationship or moving house, they will remain on the legacy benefi ts until it is time for us to move them onto Universal Credit. And for those people who were in receipt of the Severe Disability Premium and have already moved onto Universal Credit due to a change, we are looking to backdate those payments, where appropriate.

Of course, many disabled people can and do want to work, and for these people Universal Credit offers a tailored system of support that is seeing people moving into work faster and staying in work longer than compared to the old benefi ts system. Universal Credit also runs alongside other benefits to support with the extra costs of being disabled, such as Personal Independence Payment, a non-means tested benefi t offering targeted support to help disabled people lead independent lives.

These changes clearly demonstrate the strong system of support that is in place for those who need it. With spending at over £50 billion a year, we are investing more than ever before to support disabled people and people with health conditions and this is set to rise every year of this Parliament. We
have an ambitious 10-year-plan to see one million more disabled people into work by 2027, so that everyone can reach their full potential. We offer personalised help that is truly tailored towards people’s individual circumstances, that includes support for those ready to start thinking about moving towards work, practical advice to get a job, and the right care in place for people that cannot work.

We recently increased the amount of help someone could receive through the Access to Work grant up to a maximum of £57,200 a year, an increase of over a third from the previous limit. We’ve also introduced a new Tech Fund for Access to Work. This way more disabled people and their employers will be able to benefi t from advances in assistive technology that can help create more inclusive workplaces.

I understand that change can be unsettling. I want to assure Able Magazine readers who are receiving legacy benefits that Universal Credit protects them, and that we are committed to supporting them onto the new system, helping them to improve their lives.