Tag Archives: work

The UK’s food bank shame will not be solved by Tories like Lee Anderson

Lee Anderson (right) with his leader Boris Johnson: no wonder Anderson thinks he can get away with a Big Lie when his boss is the biggest liar of them all.

This MP is a disgrace to his Ashfield constituency.

He stood up in the House of Commons and admitted that his local food bank won’t give out desperately-needed parcels to people unless they sign up to take a course in budgeting and cooking skills – but you’ll notice he never said anything about whether such courses were effective in reducing demand.

Mr Anderson invited MPs to visit a food bank in his Nottinghamshire constituency where he said people “have to register for a budgeting course and a cooking course” if they receive parcels.

“We show them how to cook cheap and nutritious meals on a budget,” he added. “We can make a meal for about 30p a day and this is cooking from scratch.”

“There’s not this massive use for food banks in this country. We’ve got generation after generation who can not cook properly… they can not budget.”

Here’s video of what he said, along with some of the more well-informed comments by opposition MPs:

As usual, though, the best commentary on this came from the food writer and blogger Jack Monroe, who slated Anderson’s comment in an LBC interview:

“It’s not a lack of skills or knowledge that is causing people to struggle in food poverty in this country…it’s the lack of resources, it’s the lack of finances.

“It’s not that people don’t know what to do with a bag of pasta, it’s that they don’t have the 29p to buy it in the first place.

“Helping somebody conditional on them saying ‘you know what, I’m a terrible kind of poor person, this is all my own fault, please teach me how to be better at being poor’, is disgusting, actually.

“In his own constituency one in three live in poverty…I don’t think he’s the one to be touting the solution.”

Jack, who is a genuine national treasure, went further on the Cooking on a Bootstrap website, reminding us all of the main reasons people can’t afford food any more – and the fatal results of these Conservative Party policies:

If the ‘let them eat 30p meals’ brigade were really concerned for the welfare of people suffering, and I mean suffering, under the worst cost of living crisis this country has known for decades, they would take heed from the thousands of stories of people who have died at the hands of the callous DWP machine, and the people who enthusiastically grease its sharp and unforgiving cogs.

Stephanie Bottrill, a mother of three who was so concerned about the impact that the bedroom tax would have on her family, that she walked out in front of an articulated lorry.

Phillipa Day, whose overdose resulted in a coroners report stating that the flaws in her PIP assessment led to her death. A nine day inquest uncovered multiple failings by both the DWP and the private sector contractor Capita in the handling of her case. The coroner issued the DWP a PFD report – Prevention Of Future Deaths – which was supposed to force them to make significant changes to the system in order to prevent this entirely needless tragedy from ever happening again. Did they implement the recommended changes? Of course not. Not then, and not after multiple more coroners reports and PFDs from multiple subsequent deaths in similar circumstances.

Jodey Whiting took her own life after her benefits were stopped. Her family received a letter endorsing the DWPs actions, incorrectly stating that Jodey was fit to work, and mailed it to them as their daughter lay in a mortuary, awaiting her untimely and again, utterly preventable, burial. Following her death, and with his life thrown into utter turmoil at the loss of his mother, her 19 year old son Cory also killed himself.

I have thousands of these stories, each and every one a heartbreakingly familiar narrative: a vulnerable person denied absolutely vital assistance, unable to bear the pain of a day to day life scrabbling at the periphery of insecurity and just-about-survival, choosing a devastatingly permanent ending to a story that they didn’t get the luxury of choosing their own adventure in. God, they didn’t even get the luxury of choosing their own living accommodation, the colour of their front doors, or the meagre combination of basic store cupboard staples that made up their dinners.

What kind of world do we live in, where these horrific and very real examples of destitution and desperation are not a clarion call for an immediate overhaul of a barbaric and repeatedly proven fatal ideology?

And it begs the point, that with several hundred thousand pounds of full time staff at their disposal to do the everyday grunt work, you’d think that MPs would use a fraction of that generous budget to actually do some research in their chosen field.

Yes indeed. Lee Anderson’s most recent expenses claim alone came to £220,000. That will have included the cost of employing his support staff, so the question goes straight to the point.

The painful reality is that when most basic of human needs costs more than the meagre payments that the recipients are forced to subsist on, cheap pasta and canned beans aren’t going to make a jot of difference unless you’re willing to stuff them up your jumper and make a run for it. Those that claim to be the party of clever economics and fiscal responsibility would do well to remember this simple truth: the square root of fuck all is always going to be absolutely fuck all, no matter how creatively you’re told to to dice it.

I make no apology for the strong language; sometimes people need to be told the facts in the hardest possible terms, just so they’ll sink in.

You’ll hear it again in the following video rant from another great social media icon, Cornish Damo:

Sadly, This Writer doubts that any amount of factual argument will persuade people like Anderson to change their tune, because they believe in the tactic the Tories stole (back) from the Nazi propagandist Goebbels: The Big Lie.

Anderson thinks if he keeps repeating, often enough, the lie that poverty is entirely the fault of people who are poor, and not of those who have deprived them of decent, affordable food, housing, energy, water and all the other necessities of life, we will all eventually believe that lie.

It’s up to you to prove him wrong.

ADDITIONAL: This could be very embarrassing for Mr Anderson:

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Why has EHRC broken promise to investigate DWP’s role in deaths of benefit claimants?

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has u-turned on a promise to investigate the role played by the Department for Work and Pensions in the deaths of vulnerable benefit claimants, it’s being reported.

Instead the EHRC are now asking the DWP to create new policies in relation to claimants with mental health issues and learning difficulties. Apparently the commission is using the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse.

This Site forced the DWP to publish figures showing that thousands of people had died of unexplained causes after being thrown off benefits by that government department and I am deeply concerned by this failure to scrutinise whether the government caused these deaths.

And how many more people have died since I exposed those deaths seven years ago?

I shall be writing to the EHRC today, seeking a meaningful explanation for this u-turn.

UPDATE: Here’s what I have written to the EHRC:

“I was the writer who forced the DWP to admit that thousands of people have died after being thrown off benefits – for no established reason. I am deeply concerned that the EHRC has decided not to investigate the DWP’s role in the deaths of claimants and is choosing only to seek an agreement to better protect claimants – similar to other undertakings that the DWP has ignored in the past, causing more deaths. The DWP will never respect the human rights, or indeed the lives, of claimants unless it is forced to do so. I am writing to you to seek an explanation for your decision that I can publish to my readers. How will you defend this indefensible decision?”

Let’s see what response – if any – I receive.

Source: EHRC Breaks Promise To Investigate DWP Role In Deaths – The poor side of life

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Rees-Mogg has been leaving ‘demeaning’ notes for civil servants working from home

Jacob Rees-Mogg: he reckons it’s inefficient for civil servants to work from home and not in the office – but seems happy to have a nap in his own place of work.

Here’s another Tory who wants to make the people who do the actual work of government look bad, while distracting attention away from his colleagues and their lockdown-busting rave-ups.

Jacob Rees-Mogg has been leaving nasty little notes on the desks of civil servants who have been working from home – because he refuses to accept that they are capable of providing a better quality of work if they’re not tied to an office.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet Office minister has been merrily defending prime minister Boris Johnson’s attendance at parties in Downing Street – that break the rules Johnson himself announced to the public.

He said the fact that Johnson had been fined for disobeying his own rules in order to attend parties was “fundamentally trivial” “fluff”. That’s even though Johnson is also accused of the extremely serious offence of lying to Parliament about what he did.

What a hypocrite. If anything is “fundamentally trivial” “fluff”, it’s his determination to leave creepy little notes for the civil servants who make him look competent.

Source: Jacob Rees-Mogg criticised for leaving ‘demeaning’ notes for civil servants working from home

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Guaranteed Minimum Pensions holders set to lose thousands due to DWP disdain

The Tory government has shafted pensioners – again.

Around 11 million people were contracted out of the State Earnings-Related Pensions Scheme by their employer, on condition that they would receive an index-linked guaranteed minimum pension.

This arrangement, for anyone in the private sector, was scrapped when the new state pension was introduced in 2016 – but remains in place for public sector workers.

The decision to scrap it was never mentioned in Parliament or in any Pensions legislation.

Women are the most seriously affected. Everybody involved is losing cash ranging from a few pounds a week to tens of thousands over the lifetime of their pension.

That’s the historical situation.

Now, after two people won £1,250 each in compensation after complaining to the Ombudsman, the government has decided not to ensure that everybody affected – who might also deserve payment – is told.

The Ombudsman recommended action “to ensure that affected individuals receive appropriate communication from the DWP [Department for Work and Pensions] about their state pensions”.

But in response, all the DWP has done is publish a factsheet on the GOV.UK website. It has not informed anybody who is affected by the changes that the factsheet exists, or even put out a press release.

You can read the factsheet here – and by publishing the link, This Site has done more to inform those affected than the UK government.

Taking this into account, it should be no surprise that only 6,922 people have read the factsheet and only four people (according to DWP Permanent Secretary Peter Schofield) have made inquiries about it.

None received any compensation because Schofield said they were not eligible.

So, of a possible 11 million people affected by the GMP change, the DWP’s tailor-made strategy (in response to an Ombudsman’s recommendation, remember) has reached nobody.

As intended?

Read a deeper analysis of the implications here: Rip off: DWP to take no further action to compensate millions who lost thousands of pounds of extra pensions | Westminster Confidential

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More than 1,300 DWP staff to lose jobs: will the service to claimants get EVEN WORSE?

Employment in the UK is a “remarkable success” says Raab – as his government makes 1,300 DWP jobs redundant in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.

Yes, some of the most hated civil servants in the UK are likely to lose their jobs in a back-office shake-up of the Department for Work and Pensions.

Offices are being closed across the country, meaning 12,000 DWP employees will be moved to different sites. A further 1,300 people will not be moved as there are no suitable sites near them; they will lose their jobs.

But these jobs are said to be going from offices in areas of high economic deprivation, making a mockery of the Tory government’s “levelling-up” agenda.

The PCS union said the offices closing with no alternative site being offered to staff are in: Aberdeen, Barrow in Furness, Bishop Auckland, Blackburn, Bury St Edmunds, Chippenham, Exeter, Gravesend, Kirkcaldy, Milton Keynes, Peterborough, Southampton, and Hanley in Stoke-on-Trent.

Labour’s shadow secretary for work and pensions, Jonathan Ashworth, said: “In closing DWP offices and cutting jobs in areas including Stoke, Burnley, Bishop Auckland, Doncaster, Southampton and Kirkcaldy, Therese Coffey has exposed the Tories’ rhetoric on levelling up to be utterly hollow.

“Ministers are today cutting quality public sector jobs from communities who need them in the middle of a devastating cost of living crisis.”

The decision seems to be motivated by a calculation that the DWP has more real estate than it needs – so this is about selling off land for money, Weren’t we all led to believe the government is making cash hand-over-fist due to increased fuel (and other) prices?

In all, 13 processing sites are set to close by June 2023, but more job losses are feared over the closure and relocation of 29 other sites.

Announcing the closures on March 17, Work and Pensions minister David Rutley said no “front-of-house Jobcentre Plus” services would be affected because “the services we are talking about are primarily telephony and digital”.

Reading between the lines, this suggests that it will take even longer than the hours it already does to contact the DWP about a claim by phone or online,

And the PCS union’s Mark Serwotka seems to be implying that this is the payoff for DWP staff who were taken on to handle the extra work caused by the Covid-19 lockdowns.

With the government winding down its Covid restrictions – despite a new surge in infections, hospitalisations and deaths – these “work units” (as the Tories describe people like you and me and especially benefit claimants) are now surplus to requirements.

“The government was quick to clap civil servants at the start of the pandemic – they’re even quicker to scrap them now they’ve declared the pandemic over.

“Our members have worked tirelessly behind the scenes, keeping the country running, paying out benefits to almost two-and-a-half million families, helping them to put food on their table and keep a roof over their head.

“But now, as food and fuel prices rise faster than ever, they’re being abandoned by the government and left to fend for themselves.”

I fear this is the truth of the Tory DWP slim-down: former employees transformed into claimants in the most deprived areas, at the worst possible time, receiving an inferior service from the organisation they used to represent,

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More than two million people pay £61-per-month Tory ‘poverty tax’

Sanctions imposed by Tories on people claiming Universal Credit mean 2.02 million people are paying an average monthly ‘poverty tax’ of £61 from their benefit payments.

DWP figures show 46 per cent of the money was used to repay loans that the Tories force people to take because they won’t pay UC to anybody for five weeks after they make a claim.

Another 19 per cent was used to repay Tax Credits that the government overpaid people in the past and is refusing to write off.

According to The Welfare Times,

The figures were uncovered by SNP MP Chris Stephens, who is also a member of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee [who] said: “This is essentially a Poverty Tax on people who are struggling to heat their homes and put food on the table.

“Universal Credit is meant to be a subsistence benefit that covers basic living costs. If £60 a month is being taken away from it, when living costs are rising rapidly, how are people meant to subsist?”

The article stated that Tory government rules mean single adults over 25 get £324.84 per month, with additional payments for housing, children, and disability – but up to a quarter can be taken to pay DWP-created debts.

Repayments for social fund loans, hardship payments, integration loans, and other benefit overpayments may also be deducted.

Astonishingly, a DWP minister – David Rutley – responded to Mr Stephens by claiming the deductions were not debts – right after saying the aim was to “seek to balance recovery of debt against not causing hardship for claimants and their families.”

Apparently the DWP reduced the maximum deductable amount from 40 per cent to 25 per cent of monthly UC payments, and made them repayable over two years rather than just one.

But it still isn’t enough and, with the cost of living skyrocketing because of Tory political decisions, people are going to suffer. What will this government do about it?

It’s just another example of the fact that the Tories find it easier to bully poverty-stricken UK citizens than to sanction billionaires who may be connected to a warmongering foreign regime.

Source: Over 2 million on Universal Credit hit by £61-a-month ‘poverty tax’

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DWP blocks study of links between benefit sanctions and death. What are the Tories trying to hide?

‘Bring out your dead’: this satirical image shows public opinion of the limits of DWP concern for people the Tory government department deprives of the money they need to live.

A groundbreaking study of possible links between benefit sanctions and claimant ill-health – including mental illness and suicide – has ground to a halt because Tory ministers are not co-operating.

After making a big show of supporting the Glasgow University research back in 2019, DWP ministers immediately insisted that new security protocols would be required before they released the necessary data.

It took two years for the new protocols to be completed – and when they reached completion last year, the DWP demanded that researchers should apply for the data all over again.

Prof Nick Bailey, who is heading the Glasgow sanctions project, said that had the data been shared as originally agreed with the DWP in 2018, his research would have been in the public domain by early 2020. It is now five years since the research process for the project was supposed to have started and it has yet to get under way.

“The consequence for both policymakers and benefit claimants is we continue to operate an important policy, sanctions, which has potentially substantial consequences for those affected by it but with very little evidence of the impact of the policy, and almost none on the wider impacts,” said Bailey.

A recent Glasgow University paper analysing international studies of sanctions reported “significant associations with increased material hardship and health problems” as well as evidence sanctions “were associated with increased child maltreatment and poorer child wellbeing”.

The DWP has said it is now “actively considering” the data request that was originally made back in 2018 – nearly four years ago.

But what are we – the public – to make of this?

Does the Department for Work and Pensions have something to hide – such as complicity in the deaths of thousands of benefit claimants?

This Writer – and This Site – forced the government to reveal that thousands of people had died of unexplained causes within two weeks of being denied their benefits, all the way back in 2015.

Nothing was done to research the deaths – or to find out what had happened to people who had been denied benefits after the two-week period the DWP monitored.

And that was nearly seven years ago.

It seems to me that the DWP is deliberately concealing information on behalf of its masters in the Conservative government; the demand for extraordinary security procedures is just an excuse.

And it seems to me that there can be only one reason for hiding the information – that there is a link between benefit sanctions and claimant deaths, and DWP bosses have known about it for many years.

I challenge the DWP – and the Conservative government – to prove me wrong.

Source: DWP blocks data for study of whether benefit sanctions linked to suicide | Benefits | The Guardian

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Tory DWP is threatening to remove Motability car lifeline from severely disabled man

The DWP: where cruelty is written into the rules.

There’s new devilry afoot from the Department for Work and Pensions, as lawyers Leigh Day report:

A severely disabled man faces losing his lifeline Motability car in the latest blow he has suffered as a result of the enforcement of a benefits rule that he has just received permission to challenge in the courts.

Cameron Mitchell, aged 20, of Carlisle, has to return his Motability car by Thursday, 3 March despite the fact that he is wholly dependent on it for transport between his home, where he lives three days a week, and hospital where he stays for the rest of the week.

Cameron, through his mother and Deputy, Nicola Clulow, is challenging benefits regulations which put on hold Cameron’s Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and Nicola’s Carer’s Allowance after he spent 28 days in hospital, even though he continued to require his parents’ care whilst in hospital.

This week Cameron was granted permission to go ahead with his judicial review of Regulations 29 and 30 of the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) Regulations 2013 which he argues are discriminatory and irrational. Cameron’s legal arguments will be presented in a High Court hearing later this year after the court agreed that his claim was ‘arguable’.

However, in the months since the legal challenge was launched, Cameron and Nicola have been struggling to deal with the consequences of the enforcement of the rule, the latest of which means the loss of the Motability car.

In December 2021, Cameron’s mum received letters asking her to repay overpayments of PIP and her Carer’s Allowance that the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) had made while Cameron was in hospital from December 2020.

Leigh Day solicitor Carolin Ott wrote to the DWP asking them not to cut Cameron’s benefit package or claw back any overpayment until a decision had been made by the courts about his legal challenge to the 28-day rule and in response the DWP agreed to stop clawing back overpayments for at least six months.

However, the mobility element of Cameron’s PIP that had been paid to Motability for the car while Cameron was in hospital was still clawed back from Motability in late 2021 (even though the car was needed by his parents to continue caring for him while he was in hospital and later in hospice care). Motability say that without payment, the vehicle needs to now be returned.

Leigh Day has written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pension’s lawyers again asking for the matter to be resolved urgently and has also written to Motability asking for an extension to allow the issue to be resolved by the DWP.

Nicola is deeply distressed by the prospect of losing the vehicle and can’t see how Cameron would be able to spend any time at home if the vehicle is taken away. Cameron has benefited from being able to receive care at home which is an important part of the transition to his full-time home care package. The loss of the Motability car would have a serious, detrimental impact on him and his family.

In his judicial review challenge of the lawfulness of the suspension of PIP and his mum’s Carer’s Allowance during his extended hospital stay, Cameron is arguing that the ‘hospitalisation rule’ breaches his rights because it directly discriminates against him (a person with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) requiring hospitalisation for a period of more than 28 days) as compared to those with PMLD who are hospitalised for less than 28 days.

He is also arguing that the ‘hospitalisation rule’ indirectly discriminates against those who have PMLD or treats those with PMLD the same as others when it should be treating them differently in recognition of their disability-related needs (which mean that they require care from ‘known carers’, people who know them and their needs whilst they are in hospital). He also argues that the rule is irrational because it cuts across the purpose of PIP.

Nicola Clulow said: “Cameron has been stuck living in intensive care first in Newcastle, then in Carlisle for almost 15 months now. Not because he’s ill but due to problems and delays in providing a home care package that can meet his complex special needs.

“He’s 20 years old and has had to spend days and nights for months watching very sick people who often don’t survive and despite his lack of communication it’s clear to everyone that he was switching off from the world, was depressed and just had no interest in life.

“Contact with the outside world and the ability to go home to be with family are crucial for him. To go out, and especially to go home Cameron requires a great deal of equipment to go with him and this would be impossible without his Motability car.

“Having been called on 21st February 2022 by Motability to say his vehicle must be returned on Thursday 3rd March was one of the most difficult and upsetting situations we have faced because it means that Cameron will once again have to simply stay looking at the four walls of the Intensive Care unit and not get home.”

Leigh Day solicitor Carolin Ott said: “We are very pleased that the court has granted our client permission for a judicial review of the hospitalisation rule which has suspended his PIP and his mother’s Carer’s Allowance, but are deeply concerned by the detrimental impact of the enforcement of the rule whilst Cameron awaits his day in court.

“Cameron is a young man with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) and like many others with PMLD is dependent on input from his known carers. In circumstances where the NHS alone can’t cover his care needs, his PIP should have never been suspended in the first place. The detrimental impact of that suspension, which on top of causing loss of income and stress is now also causing his family to lose his Motability car, is ongoing and we hope that it will be urgently addressed.”

Source: Cameron Mitchell can judicially review hospital-stay benefits rule but faces losing Motability car | Leigh Day

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#DWP has been wrongly rejecting #benefit claims at a record rate

[Image: Black Triangle Campaign].

There are only a very small number of news stories about the benefit system as administered by the UK’s maliciously inept Department for Work and Pensions.

There’s the story about the DWP wrongly denying benefits to people (usually large numbers of them at a time).

There’s the one about loss of benefits (allegedly) leading to the death of a UK citizen (or indeed thousands, as I was able to force out of the department back in 2015).

There’s the one about the DWP promising to improve its performance so it gets its decisions right first time.

There’s the one about the appeal system either being unfit for purpose or finding in favour of huge numbers of claimants.

There’s the one about the costs of a system that aims to penalise people rather than pay them being far more than if everybody was just paid without question.

And there are mixtures of several or all of the above.

This story is a mixture.

It seems the DWP has been wrongly denying benefits to people, the appeal process has been demonstrating this at huge cost, and questions have been asked about why the department isn’t getting its decisions right, even after all these years:

The government is finding a record number of disability benefits claimants have been wrongly rejected by its own assessments as the cost of correcting these errors soars, new figures show.

Campaigners have pointed to “flaws in the system” that led to almost 80,000 Personal Independence Payment (Pip) decisions being overturned at initial review last year.

Meanwhile, separate figures show the cost of these reviews has surged by 26 per cent in the last two years, despite the fact that the number of reviews carried out by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decreased by 23 per cent over the same period.

The rate at which these appeals have led to a decision being reversed has surged from 22 per cent (46,580 of 236,720) three years ago to 43 per cent (78,390 of 182,880) last year, according to data obtained via freedom of information (FOI) laws.

Separately, figures published by DWP minister Chloe Smith in response to a written parliamentary question show that the cost to taxpayers of mandatory considerations for Pip stood at £24.8m last year, compared with £19.7m in 2018/19 and £13.7m in 2016/17.

Of course the upshot of this is that the DWP is unreasonably harming people’s quality of life.

And this leads me to the final aspect of DWP stories that keeps getting repeated, which is the following:

The DWP is meant to harm claimants’ quality of life. That is the purpose of the benefit system, as far as your Tory government knows.

The ultimate intention is to be able to say that a benefit system is available, while paying out no benefits at all.

Yes, this is extremely harmful to claimants, as we have all seen over the last 12 years. Fatal, in many cases.

And there’s only one way to change it.

After so many years of being told the DWP will learn the lessons of its failures, we can only conclude that it is not learning anything at all – or that the lessons it is learning are about how to harm people in less visible ways.

This is not going to change under the Conservatives*. We need a change of government.

*And no, it won’t change under Labour or the Liberal Democrats either. Please don’t delude yourself with that fantasy for the sake of an easy life.

Source: DWP admits wrongly rejecting disabled people for benefits at record rate | The Independent

Another #DWP bid to deprive severely #disabled people of #benefits crushed by the courts

Therese Coffey: her Universal Credit rules discriminate against severely disabled people who she should be protecting. Rather than admit that it is wrong, she insists on wasting public money defending the indefensible in the courts.

Two severely disabled men have won a legal challenge after the Department of Work and Pensions’ (DWP) failed to provide enough in transitional payments to protect them and others as they moved to Universal Credit.

A High Court judge found that the DWP discriminated against the pair, known as TP and AR, by refusing to compensate them the full difference between the payments they received on legacy benefits and UC payments in an area where it had already been rolled out – around £180 per month.

The DWP gave evidence that a ruling like this will affect up to 50,000 people, it will cost up to £150 million and take six years to put right the underpayments.

The ruling is the fourth in favour of TP and AR, who began their legal campaign after they suffered a severe drop in income in 2016 and 2017 as a result of house moves to areas where UC was in operation. Previously they had each received Severe Disability Premium (SDP) and Enhanced Disability Premium (EDP).

Despite rulings in the High Court and Court of Appeal, the DWP refused to pay severely disabled people affected by the policy the full monthly loss they had suffered of around £180.

Instead it paid just £120 a month, compensating for the loss of SDP and not EDP.

The SDP Gateway was introduced in 2019 to prevent other severely disabled benefits claimants from being moved onto UC outside of a managed migration process until January 2021. Outside of that period, disabled people in receipt of both SDP and EDP who experience a so-called ‘trigger event’ (certain changes in circumstances), such as a move into a UC area, experienced a sudden severe loss of income. They are known as ‘SDP natural migrants’.

The judgment in this case represents the fourth time that the Court has given detailed consideration to claims under Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights alleging unlawful discrimination against severely disabled adults who ‘naturally’ migrated to Universal Credit.

Once again, the Court concluded that Therese Coffey, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions was unable to show an objective and reasonable justification for the different treatment of people in TP and AR’s position.

The Court found that the Secretary of State’s arguments and evidence were largely the same as in the earlier cases and, in spite of the outcome and detailed findings in the previous cases, her evidence on key points was very limited, too generic or otherwise inadequate.

The Secretary of State claimed that something significant had changed, but the Court repeatedly emphasised that the essential differences in treatment remained the same and that neither legislative changes nor temporary Covid-related support changed the analysis.

The court held that the Universal Credit regulations unlawfully discriminate against TP and AR by failing to cover the loss of EDP when providing transitional payments.

UC therefore treated them less favourably, without reasonable justification, than legacy benefit claimants entitled to SDP who did not experience a ‘trigger event’ compelling them to claim UC, and legacy benefit claimants entitled to UC who experienced a ‘trigger event’ on or after January 16, 2019, and before January 27, 2021 (the period in which the Gateway was in place).

Mr Justice Holgate found:

  • The Covid-19 uplift received by UC claimants during the pandemic does not undo or make up for the disadvantage caused by the failure to cover the loss of EDP.
  • The inclusion of relief for EDP would not overpay those of the 71,000 claimants who receive SDP but not EDP. Overpayment could be avoided if legislation provided for six fixed rates of payment rather than three. “The suggestion that transitional payments in respect of EDP could not be deliverable has simply not been made out,” he said.
  • The risk that a ruling in favour of TP and AR would trigger ‘piggyback’ (similar, other) claims was not realistic.
  • The Secretary of State had not shown a reasonable relationship of proportionality between her aim of curtailing public expenditure, and the decision not to provide any element of transitional relief against the loss of EDP.

According to the DWP, in evidence it gave to the court when defending the judicial review claim, the ruling will affect up to 50,000 people and will involve sums of up to £150 million over a six-year period to put right.

The ruling is the fourth in favour of TP and AR, who began their legal campaign after they suffered a severe drop in income when they were moved on to UC in 2016 and 2017 as a result of house moves to areas where UC was in operation. Previously they had each received Severe Disability Premium (SDP) and Enhanced Disability Premium (EDP).

Despite rulings in the High Court and Court of Appeal, the DWP still refused to pay severely disabled people affected by the policy the full monthly loss of circa £180 they suffered and instead paid them just £120 a month, compensating for the loss of SDP and not EDP.

The SDP Gateway was introduced in 2019 to prevent other severely disabled benefits claimants from being moved onto UC outside of a managed migration process until January 2021. Outside of that period, disabled people in receipt of both SDP and EDP who experience a so-called ‘trigger event’ (certain changes in circumstances), such as a move into a UC area, experienced a sudden severe loss of income. They are known as ‘SDP natural migrants’.

The judgment in this case represents the fourth time that the Court has given detailed consideration to claims under Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights alleging unlawful discrimination against severely disabled adults who ‘naturally’ migrated to Universal Credit.

Once again, the Court concluded that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions was unable to show an objective and reasonable justification for the differential treatment of those in TP and AR’s position. The Court found that to a large extent the Secretary of State’s arguments and evidence were the same as in the earlier cases.[1] In spite of the outcome and detailed findings in the previous cases, the Defendant’s evidence on key points was very limited, too generic or otherwise inadequate.[2] Notwithstanding the Secretary of State’s continued claims that something significant had changed, the Court repeatedly emphasised that the essential differences in treatment remained the same and that neither legislative changes nor temporary Covid-related support changed the analysis.[3]

The court held that Regulation 63 and Schedule 2 of the Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014 unlawfully discriminate against TP and AR by failing to cover the loss of EDP when providing transitional payments. It thereby treated them less favourably, without reasonable justification, than (1) legacy benefit claimants entitled to SDP who did not experience a ‘trigger event’ compelling them to claim UC, and (2) legacy benefit claimants entitled to UC who experienced a ‘trigger event’ on or after 16 January 2019 and before 27 January 2021 (during the period in which the Gateway was in place).

Mr Justice Holgate found:

  • The Covid-19 uplift received by UC claimants during the pandemic does not undo or make up for the disadvantage caused by the failure to cover the loss of EDP.
  • The inclusion of relief for EDP would not overpay those of the 71,000 claimants who receive SDP but not EDP. Overpayment could be avoided if legislation provided for six fixed rates of payment rather than three. “The suggestion that transitional payments in respect of EDP could not be deliverable has simply not been made out,” he said.
  • The risk that a ruling in favour of TP and AR would trigger ‘piggyback’ (similar, other) claims was not realistic.
  • The Secretary of State had not shown a reasonable relationship of proportionality between her aim of curtailing public expenditure, and the decision not to provide any element of transitional relief against the loss of EDP.

“I am not satisfied … that the broad aims of promoting phased transition, curtailing public expenditure or administrative efficiency required the denial of transitional relief against the loss of EDP for SDP natural migrants,” he said.

“A fair balance has not been struck between the severity of the effects of the measure under challenge … and the contribution that that measure makes to the achievement of the [Secretary of State’s] aims.”

He said there was stronger evidence to conclude this “where there is no connection between the triggering event, the move to a home in a different local authority area, and any rational assessment of the disability needs of a severely disabled claimant.”

The judgment also found in favour of claimants AB and F, a disabled mother and child, saying that the discrimination they suffered “is manifestly without reasonable foundation”.

The DWP’s failure to provide transitional protection against the loss of the lower disabled child element of Child Tax Credit was found to constitute unlawful discrimination.

It treated AB and F less favourably than legacy benefit claimants entitled to SDP and the lower disabled child element of Child Tax Credit who have not experienced a trigger event compelling them to claim UC.

It also treated them less favourably than legacy benefit claimants who were entitled to SDP and the lower disabled child element of Child Tax Credit who experienced a trigger event whilst the SDP gateway was in place.

“I am relieved that the judge agrees that the DWP treated us differently than other severely disabled benefits claimants and that it was wrong to do so,” said TP.

“The past six years have been immensely stressful as I have struggled to get by on a lower income. I just hope that the DWP will put all of this right as soon as possible so that those of us who have been badly affected by this unfair policy can get on with our lives.”

AR added: “It should never have been the case that disabled people entitled to the severe and enhanced disability premiums were suddenly deprived of the equivalent sum when they found themselves transferred onto Universal Credit.

“The policy has caused me and others serious hardship and I am glad that the court has seen the sense in our argument. Hopefully we will be ‘fourth time lucky’ and finally have reached the end of the road fighting this unfair policy.”

Their solicitor, Tessa Gregory, said she could not understand why the DWP was still dragging the affair out in the courts.

“Following the three previous findings of unlawful discrimination, the DWP should have ensured our clients were not losing out on severe and enhanced disability payments.

“Instead, after each judgment the DWP has made further attempts to short-change this group of highly vulnerable claimants who faced a cliff edge loss of income when none of their disability needs has changed.

“Our clients hope that this judgment marks the end of the road and that the DWP will stop wasting money on legal fees and get on with protecting the vulnerable.”

Source: Severely disabled benefits claimants TP and AR win legal challenge over loss of income caused by move on to Universal Credit | Leigh Day

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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