UC support to those with severe disabilities ‘unlawful’

The High Court declaration represents the latest blow to the DWP and Universal Credit.


Another day another damning blow to Universal Credit (UC) as the High Court rules regulations that would leave thousands of claimants with severe disabilities worse off by about £100 a month are unlawful.

The DWP is said to be “considering its response”.

As reported by 24housing, a former top judge said earlier this week that UC “breaches the rule of law”, with the reform showing a systemic failure to meet basic legal standards.

The latest High Court ruling followed a legal challenge to the DWP over arrangements for claimants who were in receipt of severe disability premium (SDP) benefits and had moved on to UC before 16th January this year.

Two men with severe disabilities, known as TP and AR, together with a woman known as SXC who also had severe disabilities, argued regulations that restricted the amount of compensation to those affected were discriminatory.

A court case last year saw TP and AR successfully argue that the DWP had unlawfully discriminated against them after their benefit income was reduced when they were required to claim UC due to moving into a different local authority area.

As a result of that case, TP and AR received £6,517 and £4,788 respectively, in compensation for the “pain and distress” caused to them.

They also received payments of £173.50 and £176 a month respectively to meet the continuing shortfall in their benefits.

The government subsequently proposed regulations allowing SDP claimants, who had lost benefit income after moving to UC before the establishment of income protections on  19th January, to claim £80 a month in compensation – while those moved after would receive £180 a month.

TP and AR, represented by the law firm Leigh Day, and SXC, represented by Central England Law Centre, challenged the discrepancy as unjustified because the estimated 10,000 people who moved before 19th January would get significantly less in compensation than those who moved afterward, despite their needs being the same.

An estimated 500,000 people in the UK receive either severe disability premium and enhanced disability premium payments or both.

The payments are intended to meet the extra costs of living alone without a carer.

In a statement after the ruling, TP and AR said: “After the high court judgment last year, we thought we had finally forced the government to ensure that people with severe disabilities who had to move on to Universal Credit from the old system would not be without adequate protection or worse off.

“However, we then learned that the government was proposing to short-change us and thousands of other severely disabled persons by around £100 a month.

“It is extremely frustrating that we have had to fight these cases through the courts when it is clear to all that the government’s unfair and dysfunctional Universal Credit system is indefensible.”

Speaking after the case, Tom Short, a solicitor with Leigh Day, said: “We are delighted that our clients have once again triumphed in their struggle against the government’s discriminatory universal credit policies.”

Also speaking after the case, Michael Bates, for the Central England Law Centre, said: “This is a really important decision from the court.

“It confirms that the government’s Universal Credit scheme continues to treat severely disabled claimants differently, and that this treatment is unlawful.

“There is an obvious solution to this, and we look forward to seeing the government’s response.”

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