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Universal credit system threatens to penalise vulnerable group

17 August, 2018

• HEALTH partners across Islington have written to the secretary of state for work and pensions to raise serious concerns about the impact of universal credit on people with learning disabilities. There is a risk that this vulnerable group will struggle to complete their benefits application and lose access to vital support.

Universal credit applications can only be made online and take at least two hours. This is daunting for people with learning disabilities, who may not have access to a computer, and struggle to navigate the complicated application and maintain concentration.

Enabling application forms to be printed off, so they can be filled in manually, will take away a lot of the stress. The form could be completed over a longer period of time, in a less stressful setting and without the need to be confident in using computers.

Changing the application process is not enough. Jobcentre staff need to be trained to provide tailored support to help people with learning disabilities complete applications. The government urgently needs to fund this training.

Without these measures, many people with learning disabilities could be denied crucial benefits that allow them to pay rent, buy essentials and stay safe. In Islington, we continue to work together to support vulnerable residents so they are not inadvertently penalised by universal credit.

CLLR JANET BURGESS, executive member for health and social care, Islington Council; MARK AUSTIN, chair, Islington Family Reference Carers Group; VIRGINIA BOVELL, family carer representative, Islington Learning Disability Partnership Board; JEAN WILSON, chair of trustees, Centre 404


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