News & Features

Benefit Claimants Win Vital Court Case

Posted in General News on Friday, May 15th, 2020

Two benefit claimants, one a single mother of a disabled child claiming tax credits and another, a disabled person claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA) saw their benefit amounts reduced after having to claim Universal Credit (UC) without having transitional protection against income losses. Unsatisfied with the amount they had been awarded under UC,  the two claimants took the case to the Court of Appeal and the judge concluded that the claimant’s circumstances had not changed and therefore, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had unjustly reduced their benefit amounts. This judgement means that depending on the action the DWP decides to take, these two individuals and potentially many more people who didn’t have transitional protection when moving to UC, will have their original benefits reinstated or the benefit amount they are receiving under UC will be increased so that they are receiving the same amount they were previously.

This test case was brought by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) and it challenged the lack of protection against the loss of financial support for benefit claimants who are on UC only because of an incorrect DWP decision. This issue was made worse for many people who have been unable to receive their previous benefits even after they have successfully challenged the DWP’s decision and are financially worse off on UC.

The mother of the disabled child was receiving almost £140 less per month for a period of time under UC compared to what she was receiving prior to switching, and the ESA claimant was receiving £180 less per month on UC. The Court ruled that there wasn’t any legally just reason to treat these two households differently from other benefit claimants who will claim UC in the future through managed migration which will give them transitional protection against income losses. In response to the Court’s judgement CPAG’s Solicitor, Carla Clarke commented: “Claimants pushed onto UC when the DWP wrongly stops their old benefits should not have to tolerate an income drop that causes them real hardship simply because the DWP considers it is too costly or too complex to rectify its own mistake.”    

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