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Disability: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN 161760, tabled on 2 March 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the extent of the financial effect of the covid-19 outbreak on disabled people.

Answered on

8 March 2021

This Government is committed to supporting disabled people affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and has delivered an unprecedented package of support, injecting billions into the welfare system. We continue to monitor the impact on disabled people using existing and new data sources, whilst ensuring that they are able to access the support they need.

We are ensuring that disabled people continue to have access to disability benefits and other financial support, the food and essential goods that they need, as well as accessible communications and guidance during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Government continues to support disabled employees to access assistive technology and other forms of support they need to remain in work.

Access to Work prioritises applications from disabled people who have a job to start within 4 weeks of their application. Recognising the impact of COVID-19 has had on disabled people, Access to Work has expanded the prioritisation to include those in the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable group, keyworkers and introduced a new more flexible package of support to enable flex to work from more than one location, the workplace and home.

The disability benefits are not means–tested, non-contributory and thus paid regardless of any income or savings. They are also tax-free and worth up to £151.40 a week. PIP and DLA were not subject to the benefits freeze and were most recently uprated by 1.7 per cent from 6 April 2020.

The Government has introduced temporary measures to support those hardest hit, including the furlough scheme, self-employed income support scheme, and the £20 UC uplift. We spend over £55 billion a year on benefits to support disabled people and people with health conditions – This is around 2.6% of GDP. We have (up until the 20/21 year):

o Increased Employment and Support Allowance for people with the greatest needs – with the Support Group rate up by around £870 per year since 2010.

o Increased the higher rate of Attendance Allowance for people over State Pension Age who need someone to care for them – meaning around an additional £923 a year for disabled people since 2010.

o Increased Carer’s Allowance for those people who care for someone – meaning nearly an additional £700 a year for carers since 2010.

o Increased the rate of DLA paid to the most disabled children by over £130 a month since 2010, and spending more than ever on DLA for disabled children.

o Increased the enhanced rates of PIP which helps people meet the on-going costs of their disability – up by over £880 a year since its introduction in 2013.

o And there is a higher proportion of people on the top rates of Personal Independence Payment than there were on DLA – 33 per cent vs 15 per cent.

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