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Stop denying financial lifeline to people on out of work benefits

More than 119,000 people have signed a petition calling for the UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak to stop denying people on out of work benefits an extra £20 a week.

The emergency £20 increase was given to the millions of people on Universal Credit at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. But the same increase was not made to legacy benefits, leaving many disabled people left behind.

Legacy benefits are benefits that are being replaced by Universal Credit and include Employment and Support Allowance and Income Support.

We set up the ‘Don’t Leave Disabled People Behind’ petition as part of the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), a network of over 100 organisations that represent disabled people and their families.

Today, ahead of the UK Government’s spending review, the ‘Don’t Leave Disabled People Behind’ petition is being handed to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak.

Disabled people are being ignored

For over eight months, thousands of people living with a disability or with long-term health conditions have faced hardship as a result of the pandemic - from having to spend more on buying food safely to paying more for vital care.

Karen Pickering from the west coast of Scotland was diagnosed with relapsing MS in 2007. Since March, Karen has only left the house a handful of times as she has been shielding – this has meant her bills are higher than ever.

“My cost of living has gone up”

Karen says: “Being stuck at home for the last seven months has meant my cost of living has gone up. I can’t just pop out to get a loaf of bread, so I’m having to pay for regular food deliveries. I can’t get out to walk my dog every day and instead have to pay for a dog walker – it all adds up.

“I had no idea I was missing out on £20 a week, but it’s really upsetting to think my needs aren’t considered as important as others. The money might not seem a lot to the Government, but it would make the world of difference to me.”

It’s time for the Government to act

Anastasia Berry, our Policy Manager and the Policy Co-Chair of the DBC, says: “It is a disgrace that the Government has ignored the needs of disabled people, including those with MS, for over eight months. Time and time again they have been asked to provide extra financial support for a group of people who, through no fault of their own, happen to be on a different benefit to others.

“MS is relentless, painful and disabling, and around a third living with the condition rely on ESA because they are simply unable to work. The poor excuse of an outdated and archaic computer system is no longer valid as we approach the announcement of the annual benefit uprating. The Government must act now, and stop discriminating against disabled people.”

Too many people with MS in the UK have to fight for the treatments, services, care and support they need. Sometimes it’s just a case of fighting for MS to be understood. Find out how to start a campaign in your local area.