The High Court has begun to consider whether it was unlawful of the Conservative government to deny claimants of ‘legacy’ benefits the £20 uplift it gave to people on Universal Credit.
The court granted permission for a judicial review on April 27, but the case has been much-delayed, with the hearing postponed from September to November 17, and then the second day being moved to November 19 – but it is happening.
The case has been brought by two recipients of Employment and Support Allowance who used Legal Aid to instruct law firm Osbornes Law.
A press release from the firm states:
Despite them having an equivalent entitlement to the ‘standard allowance’ of UC, simply because they were in a different part of the system, 1.9 million people on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) have been without this increase, which many have called a ‘lifeline’.
Claimants of Income Support and Job Seekers Allowance have also been excluded.
Many have argued that this is unfair, including the Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee: “It’s simply not right for people to miss out on support just because they happen, through no fault of their own, to be claiming the ‘wrong’ kind of benefit.”
We are pursuing this legal challenge based on the proposition that the pandemic means those dependent upon basic allowances are facing higher basic living costs, and yet despite their very similar circumstances, only some of them receive a Covid-specific uplift to help meet those costs.
This unfairness calls for a properly evidenced justification, particularly as almost 2 million disabled people are disproportionately affected by this decision and the pandemic generally.
Thus far the Government has failed to provide any objectively verifiable reason for the difference in treatment of people in essentially identical circumstances.
If the Department for Work and Pensions loses, the more-than-two-million people affected could each be entitled to up to £1,500 in backdated extra payments.
The start of the case was marked by a huge show of support for the case outside the High Court, by groups including Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and Unite Community, the MS Society, SNP MPs Marion Fellows and David Linden, and Labour MPs Debbie Abrahams, Marsha de Cordova and John McDonnell:
I am joining @Dis_PPL_Protest members at the High Court this morning supporting the case brought by claimants on legacy benefits who were cruelly excluded by the Tories from the £20 uplift in Universal Credit. https://t.co/p6AFYQeU9P
— John McDonnell MP (@johnmcdonnellMP) November 17, 2021
The outcome of the case is unlikely to be announced on Friday (November 19).
Let’s hope it doesn’t take as long coming out as the judgement in the libel case between Rachel Riley and former Jeremy Corbyn aide Laura Murray. That was heard in May and the verdict is still unknown, half a year later.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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