Up to half a million disabled people and their families stand to lose out under the government's proposed Universal Credit according to a shocking new report from the Children's Society, Citizens Advice and Disability Rights UK.
The report Holes in the Safety Net suggests that 100,000 households with children could have incomes reduced by up to £28 a week should the government go through with their plans to merge jobseeker's allowance, tax credits, income support, employment & support allowance and housing benefits.
With a Universal Credit pilot due to be run in north-east England from next April, Children's Society chief executive Matthew Read is urging ministers to reconsider their plans.
"This inquiry has lifted the lid on the stark reality that many families of disabled people will face when the new benefits system comes into force," he said.
"While it is true that some people will be better off under Universal Credit, it is shocking that so many disabled people - including children - will have to cut back on food, specialist equipment and, in some cases, be forced to move out of their homes or consider moving their child into full time residential care."
However, the government has called the report fronted by Britain's greatest-ever Paralympian, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, "highly selective" and said it could lead to "irresponsible scaremongering".
A Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman said savings from abolishing the adult disability premiums and changes in the child rate would be "recycled" into higher payments for more severely disabled people.
"Our reforms will create a simpler and fairer system with aligned levels of support for adults and children and more importantly, there will be no cash losers in the rollout of Universal Credit," she added.
Universal Credit will replace the existing benefits system with a single payment capped at £26,000 per household with existing claimants due to be transferred to the new system in stages until 2017.
The report summarises the findings from three research reports based on evidence from surveys of almost 3,500 disabled people and their families, as well as a parliamentary evidence session.
Of those families affected, one in 10 expressed fears that they could no longer afford their own home, while two thirds said they would have to cut back on food, and more than a half said it would lead them into debt.
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