Closed petition Allow Disabled People to Keep All Their Benefits if They Move in With a Partner

Under the current rules, disabled people on ESA or UC risk losing some or all of their benefits if they find love and move in with a partner. This means we have to choose between happiness and financial security. Personally, these unfair rules have discouraged me from even trying to find love.

More details

Disabled people on income-related benefits risk being left totally dependent on their partner if they move in together. This is because, when joint income is taken into account, their partner's earnings or savings often exceed the limits for eligibility for income-related benefits.

This rule applies even if the disabled person in the relationship cannot and won't ever me able to work, meaning that they have no choice other than to hope the income their partner gets is enough for them both to live on.

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Government responded

This response was given on 3 June 2021

Disabled people are entitled to Income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit if they meet conditions of entitlement depending on their income and capital of their household.

Read the response in full

Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA (IR)) and Universal Credit are means-tested welfare support. It is longstanding policy that income-related benefits treat all couples as a single household unit when assessing benefit entitlement. Where claimants have income available to meet their household's everyday living costs, such as through a partner's earnings or savings, their entitlement to benefit is adjusted accordingly.

Eligibility for (ESA (IR)) and Universal Credit is dependent on satisfying the basic conditions of entitlement and those relating to their financial position. Both benefits take into account the income and capital of the claimant and their partner, or a new partner if the claimant does not need to make a new claim. Universal Credit is replacing ESA (IR) but the principle of assessing members of a couple in this way will remain.

People with substantial savings or other capital should draw on these resources before looking to the taxpayer for support, particularly as many taxpayers themselves have savings below these limits. Universal Credit operates in a similar way to the benefits it is replacing, this is a longstanding principle within income-related benefits, such as Income Support and income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Universal Credit is not paid to claimants who have sufficient income available from other sources to support themselves. The general principle is that income, other than earnings, which is provided to meet everyday living costs, is fully taken into account in the calculation of Universal Credit. The Government understands disabled people may face additional cost, which is why income provided to meet additional costs through benefits such as Personal Independence Payments and Disability Living Allowance are not taken into account when determining entitlement to benefits.

In the coming months, the Department is bringing forward a Green Paper on health and disability support, focusing on the welfare system. The Green Paper will explore how the welfare system can better meet the needs of disabled people and people with health conditions now and in the future, to build a system that enables people to live independently and move into work where possible.

The Green Paper will be strongly influenced by the views of disabled people and representatives from disability organisations. We have hosted a series of workshops across the country where local disability organisations and disabled people have shared their experiences of DWP services and priorities for future changes. We have continued this engagement since Covid-19 with a series of virtual events with charities and disabled people. This is in addition to engagement through our existing forums with national organisations. The Green Paper will reflect themes coming out of those conversations and ask for views on how best to address them. We will continue this engagement with further events with disabled people and their representatives during the formal consultation period and beyond.

Department for Work and Pensions