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Severely disabled benefits claimants win permission for third legal challenge over loss of income on Universal Credit

Two severely disabled men have been given permission to challenge the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) for a third time over its failure to provide transitional payments to protect them and others from a cliff-edge loss of income following their move on to Universal Credit.

Posted on 08 September 2021

The men, known as TP and AR, have achieved success in the courts three times in the past three years (twice in the High Court and once in the Court of Appeal) in their legal campaign for recompense for a severe drop in income when they were moved from ‘legacy benefits’ on to Universal Credit in 2016 and 2017.

However the DWP is still refusing to pay severely disabled people affected by the policy the full monthly loss of the circa £180 they have suffered.

TP and AR were both moved from Severe Disability Premium (SDP) and Enhanced Disability Premium (EDP) when they moved into areas where Universal Credit had already been rolled out.

As a result, despite Government pledges that disability benefits claimants would not be worse off on Universal Credit, both found themselves in receipt of around £180 less than they had received on SDP and EDP.

TP and AR challenged the lack of transitional payments to protect against the cliff-edge drop in income in court in July 2018, won their case and received damages for the money they had lost and the distress caused to them.

In January 2019 the DWP introduced the SDP Gateway to prevent other severely disabled benefits claimants from being moved onto Universal Credit outside of a managed migration process which ensured their level of benefits was maintained until January 2021.

However, for those like our clients who had already been moved onto Universal Credit the DWP set transitional payments to protect against the loss in income at just £80 a month rather than the circa £180 per month lost. TP and AR successfully challenged that policy in court.

Rather than fully recompense our clients going forward the DWP then decided to set transitional payments at £120 a month and it is that decision which is being challenged.

Now TP and AR have been given permission to proceed with a judicial review of the DWP decision to short change affected individuals and pay them £120 a month to make up for the loss of income, instead of £180 a month.

The claim will be heard at the High Court on the 19-21 October 2021.

Claimant TP said:

“It has been entirely frustrating and exhausting having to exist on an overall unreasonable cut in financial assistance brought about by a move forced upon me into Universal Credit, whilst at the same time battling debilitating illness during a most challenging period of increased expenditure during this pandemic. The principle of a fair transition into Universal Credit has already been upheld by the courts on numerous occasions now, yet the Government has been dragging its feet for a prolonged period of time to my detriment in abiding by these rulings both in letter and spirit.”

Claimant AR said:

“Yet again I am having to go to court and fight for what is fair. Over the last years I should have had much needed support in place to help me get through the challenges I face on a daily basis as a result of my disabilities, but instead I have had to put time and energy into fighting for that support. I hope this is the last time we have to fight the Secretary of State for support that is so obviously needed.”

Leigh Day Partner Tessa Gregory said:

“It is difficult to believe that our clients have been forced to bring a third set of legal proceedings against the Government in order to ensure they and thousands of other severely disabled persons are not unlawfully discriminated against following their move on to Universal Credit. Those affected are some of the most vulnerable individuals in society and the Government should be ensuring they are fully supported, not seeking to again short change them, this time by around £60 per month.”

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Tessa Gregory
Corporate accountability Planning Wildlife

Tessa Gregory

Tessa is an experienced litigator who specialises in international and domestic human rights law cases

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