A landmark court ruling looks set to cost the Tory government a small fortune as people with disabilities line up to demand their lost cash.
More than 300 people are involved in this initial claim – but solicitors Leigh Day reckon more than 13,000 could be owed lost income totalling £170 per month or more.
Here are the details:
More than 300 severely disabled people have issued a claim in the High Court for lost income under the universal credit system.
The group, represented by Leigh Day solicitors, say they have each missed out on at least £170 a month since they were moved on to universal credit as the new benefits system has been rolled out across the UK.
All of the group were moved on to the system before January, 2019 and lost the severe disability premium which they had previously claimed, which left them worse off.
However, severely disabled people who have been moved on to universal credit since January 2019 have not missed out on the severe disability premium.
Instead, their universal credit claims have been managed by the Severe Disability premium Gateway system which has been put in place to ensure that severely disabled benefits claimants do not end up worse off under the universal credit system.
The claimants argue that they have suffered because of the unlawful implementation of the Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) 2014, the SDP Gateway Regulations, January 2019, and the Managed Migrations Regulations 2019.
They claim they have suffered discrimination under Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The current litigation appears to follow a Court of Appeal ruling on these issues – that the government not only discriminated against disabled people moving from Severe Disability Premium onto Universal Credit, but then tried to discriminate against them with the repayments.
The issue was discovered by two claimants, anonymised as TP and AR, whose disability benefits were cancelled when they moved from one local authority area to another. They were put on Universal Credit instead, with £180 per month wiped off the amount they were set to receive.
The government attempted to rectify the situation with regulations which stopped other severely disabled people from moving over to Universal Credit and provided those who had already moved over with back payments.
But in another failure of the kind that has made the Tory government notorious, the disabled men were only paid back at a rate of £80 a month, rather than the £180 that they had lost.
The Court of Appeal, in a unanimous judgment, agreed with lower courts that the Government had unlawfully discriminated against this cohort of severely disabled claimants.
This site previously reported that a pre-action protocol letter had been sent to Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey. Leigh Day solicitors have now issued the full claim, saying she failed to substantively respond to that letter.
They believe that up to 13,000 disabled people in the UK have been affected by the change and may be entitled to make a claim to retrieve lost benefit payments.
“Our clients believe that it clearly cannot be right that they find themselves £170 a month worse off under the universal credit system when other claimants have the assurance that they will not be worse off on universal credit,” said Leigh Day solicitor Ryan Bradshaw.
The claimants are asking the Work and Pensions Secretary for compensation equal to the amount of money they have lost following their transfer to Universal Credit, for their previous level of benefits to be restored and maintained until a lawful migration scheme is established, and for compensation for the stress they have been caused.
Source: Disabled benefit claimants issue claim for lost income under universal credit system
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