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News

DWP legal challenge could lead to 2 million people being awarded up to £1,500

today5 August 2022 2

Background
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People on legacy benefits could be awarded £1,500 in back payments. It comes after a legal team who represented four legacy benefit claimants have confirmed an appeal has been successful.

In February this year, the legacy benefit claimants lost a High Court challenge over the £20 weekly Universal Credit uplift. The appeal update was shared by William Ford QC on the Osbornes Law website.

The Daily Record reports that it has offered a glimmer of hope for over two million people on older-style benefits. They could be due more than £1,500 in backdated payments – if the case is successful.

Read more: Nottinghamshire mum stunned as energy company hits her with £400 bill

The win means that the appeal will now proceed to be heard by the Court of Appeal. Mr Ford wrote: “On 18 February 2022 the High Court dismissed the case brought by Osbornes on behalf of 4 claimants challenging the UK Government’s failure to apply the £20 per week uplift to legacy benefit recipients that had been provided to Universal Credit claimants during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

He continued: “The claimants sought permission to appeal that decision from the High Court. We can now confirm that on 3 August 2022 the Court of Appeal has granted permission to appeal.

“We will aim to provide any further relevant updates as the case progresses.”

Why is there an application to appeal?

People on Universal Credit received a £20 weekly increase from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) from April 2020 to October 2021 to help them pay for additional costs incurred during the global health crisis and subsequent lockdowns.

However, the uplift was not extended to more than two million people on older benefits such as Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support and Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) – which campaign groups said disproportionately affected disabled people.

Four claimants brought a challenge to the High Court in November 2021 in relation to the UK Government’s failure to apply a similar increase to legacy benefits.

Two of the claimants are in receipt of ESA and the third and fourth claimants are in receipt of Income Support and JSA respectively.

The court accepted that there was a greater proportion of disabled persons in receipt of legacy benefits, compared to disabled people on Universal Credit, and that both groups of disabled claimants were in the same position.

But, while the court accepted that there was discrimination towards disabled people on legacy benefits, the judge ruled that the difference in treatment was justified.

The claimants were represented by William Ford, of Osbornes Law, Jamie Burton QC, of Doughty Street Chambers and Desmond Rutledge, of Garden Court Chambers.

What happens next?

Now that the Court of Appeal has granted permission to appeal the decision then the case will be heard at the Court of Appeal.

Petition calling for backdated payments

A petition created shortly before the High Court ruling on February 18 calling for the £20 uplift payments to be backdated to all benefit claimants has received more than 27,337 signatures of support (at time of writing) and a response from the DWP.

The DWP responded: “The [UK] Government introduced a temporary £20 uplift to Universal Credit, to ensure that vital support was given to those facing the most financial disruption due to the pandemic.

“Since the start of the pandemic, the [UK] Government’s priority has been to protect lives and people’s livelihoods. This includes continually supporting individuals and businesses.”

The response goes on to say how the £20 increase to Universal Credit was a “temporary measure that ensured vital support was given to those facing the most financial disruption due to the pandemic”.

The DWP statement continues: “The decision not to include the £20 uplift in legacy benefits was recently unsuccessfully challenged in the High Court on the basis of discrimination, with the Court concluding the Regulations were justified in all circumstances.

“Universal Credit provided a vital safety net for six million people during the pandemic, and we announced the temporary uplift as part of a COVID support package, worth a total of £407 billion in 2020-21 and 2021-22.”

You can read the full response to the ‘Backpay the £20 covid uplift to people on Legacy Benefits’ petition here. At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.

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Written by: thehitnetwork

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