The Department for Work and Pensions is to pay arrears totaling £150million to 50,000 people claiming Universal Credit.
It comes after two people who switched from other benefits to Universal Credit (UC) won a legal challenge after their payments plummeted.
The men, known as TP and AR, were each receiving an extra £180 a month in their old pre-deployment benefits from UC, BirminghamLive reports.
Lawyers for Leigh Day, who represented the pair, said the DWP failed to ‘provide adequate transitional payments to protect them and others from a sudden loss of income after they switched to Universal Credit “.
In evidence submitted to the court, the DWP claimed the decision would affect up to 50,000 people and involve up to £150million to be redressed over a six-year period.
The judicial review in favor of TP and AR is the fourth to rule against the DWP since the two men began their legal campaign.
The couple, who are both severely disabled, said their income dropped significantly when they transferred to UC in 2016 and 2017 following moves to areas where they had been fully deployed.
Changes in circumstances – such as a new address – mean any claimant has no choice but to switch to the new Universal Credit scheme, which replaced six existing benefits.
Previously, men each received a Severe Disability Award (SDP) and an Enhanced Disability Award (EDP) in addition to their former benefits. But those top-ups stopped when they switched to Universal Credit, so their income dropped accordingly.
Leigh Day said that despite High Court and Court of Appeal rulings, the DWP has consistently refused to pay those affected by the policy the full monthly loss of around £180 they suffered and instead only paid them £120 a month, making up for the loss. of SDP but not of EDP.
The lawyers explained that the judgment in this case represents the fourth time that the court has considered complaints under Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights alleging unlawful discrimination against severely disabled adults. who were forcibly emigrated to Universal Credit.
The tribunal found that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions was unable to provide objective and reasonable justification for the differential treatment of those in the position of TP and AR.
He found the DWP’s evidence on the key points to be very limited, too generic or otherwise inadequate and repeatedly stressed that the essential differences in treatment remained the same despite any legislative changes or temporary Covid-related support.
The court ruled that Regulation 63 and Schedule 2 of the Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014 unlawfully discriminated against TP and AR by not covering the loss of EDP when supplying transitional payments. It thus treated them less favourably, without reasonable justification, than former benefit claimants who were not required to switch to UC.
Claimant TP said: “I am relieved that the judge agrees that the DWP treated us differently than other severely disabled benefit claimants and that he was wrong to do so. The last six years have been extremely stressful as I have I had a hard time getting out of it. I just hope the DWP gets this all sorted out ASAP so those of us who have been hit hard by this unjust policy can get on with our lives.
Claimant AR said: ‘It should never have happened that disabled people entitled to Severe and Enhanced Disability premiums were suddenly deprived of the equivalent sum when they found themselves transferred to Universal Credit.
“Politics has caused me and others great hardship and I am glad the court saw the meaning of our argument. I hope we get ‘lucky fourth time’ and that we will finally reach the end of the road by fighting this unjust policy.”
Tessa Gregory, Partner at Leigh Day, said: “While we are delighted that the court has once again ruled in favor of our clients, we do not understand why this matter is still in litigation.
“Following the previous three findings of unlawful discrimination, the DWP should have ensured that our clients did not lose severe and enhanced disability benefits after they transitioned from legacy benefits to Universal Credit. Instead, after each judgment, the DWP made new attempts to short-change this group of highly vulnerable claimants who faced extreme loss of income while none of their disability needs changed.
“Our clients hope that this judgment marks the end of the road and that the DWP will stop wasting money on legal costs and continue to protect the vulnerable.”
The DWP has yet to issue an official comment on the decision.
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