DWP to cut £390 Universal Credit payment in Newcastle, Durham and Sunderland in new trial

Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham are among 12 areas where the DWP is trialling plans to cut an extra £390 payment that people on Universal Credit are getting.

Currently, people claiming Universal Credit who are unable to work due to sickness can get a sick note from their doctor and potentially claim the “Limited Capability for Work-Related Activity” (LCWRA) payment of £390 a month on top of their standard benefits. However, a new scheme will see doctors create a “work ability plan” shared with a claimant’s work coach, which is designed to get people back into work.

The idea was tested in Leeds, where the DWP said most claimants were able to “understand their own health better” and “felt more confident” about what they were able to do, and how to overcome barriers. Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham are among 12 more areas ahead of a possible country-wide rollout.

In 2022, 700,000 people had a Work Capability Assessment, with approximately 2.45 million people claiming Limited Capability for Work-Related Activity or the equivalent Employment Support Allowance (ESA) “support group” payments alongside their benefits. The Government is aiming to reduce how many people are claiming the LCWRA, with assessments abolished completely in three years’ time.

Mel Stride MP, secretary of state for work and pensions, said: “We are pushing ahead with the next generation of welfare reforms to ensure benefit claimants get as much support as soon as possible to move towards work and the more prosperous life that brings.

“This pilot is an important part of that, helping people understand what they need to do to move towards employment through a simple and effective conversation. The findings will help us build the new disability benefits system once the Work Capability Assessment is removed later this decade.”

In a statement, the DWP said: “We support millions of disabled people every year and the reforms in the Health and Disability White Paper will improve the experience of the benefits system for disabled people. Many people who have the LCWRA top-up will become eligible for PIP. Transitional protection will be provided to those not in receipt of PIP, so that nobody will see a financial loss as these reforms come into place.”

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