New guide aims to save disabled Suffolk claimants from having their Universal Credit unfairly sanctioned

The new guide will help disabled people navigate the benefits system to ensure they are treated fair

The new guide will help disabled people navigate the benefits system to ensure they are treated fairly. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire EADT 20.1.11 - Credit: PA

Two charities in Suffolk have joined forces to create a leaflet that aims to ensure disabled people are treated fairly under the new benefits system.

Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE) and Citizens Advice Ipswich have made a guide for navigating Universal Credit (UC), which is replacing a number of different means-tested benefits and is currently being rolled out across the county.

The leaflet, which was made possible thanks to Big Lottery funding, defines the meaning of disabled under the Equality Act and explains the legal duty of the Department for Work and Pensions to make reasonable adjustments to disabled people’s claimant commitments for UC.

These adjustments could include offering help with completing forms or using a computer, or altering the time or frequency of reviews.

One of the main purposes of the leaflet is to stop people being unfairly sanctioned because they were unable to fulfil part of their UC agreement as a result of their condition.

The two charities have previously worked together to create a similar guide for Job Seeker’s Allowance, which was nominated for a Citizens Advice ‘Stand up for Equality Award’ and was featured at the 2014 Citizens Advice national conference.

Audrey Ludwig, ISCRE’s legal director, said: “We originally devised a leaflet to stop people with disabilities on Job Seeker’s Allowance being sanctioned because they were unable to do things like use computer because of their disabilities. This leaflet has been extraordinarily successful and is used in many parts of the country.

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“Now that UC is coming to most parts of Suffolk we at ISCRE have teamed up again with Ipswich CAB, as part of our Tackling Discrimination in the East Project, funded by the Big Lottery. We hope many more people use it to prevent being sanctioned.”

Session supervisor of Citizens Advice Ipswich, Pippa Banham, added: “With the impending full roll out of UC and its anticipated impact, it’s important claimants know how to enforce their rights under the Equality Act.

“The leaflet is a practical guide with a preventative approach to resolve problems before they happen which has to be good news for both claimants and the Job Centre Plus.”