High Court dismisses legal challenge to Disabled student's exclusion from Universal Credit

Wed,9 February 2022
News Benefits

The High Court has dismissed a judicial review brought against rules restricting Universal Credit (UC) to Disabled students.

Flinn Kays, a disabled 19 year-old student, argued that the rules that existed prior to 15 December 2021 were unlawful. These rules had prevented him from receiving UC until he first underwent a work capability assessment and established a limited capability for work.

Flinn receives the enhanced rate of both the mobility and daily living components of the PIP, but is having to use that money to meet his general living expenses.

He calculates that he may be entitled to around £900 a month in UC. But in line with UC rules, his claim for UC was refused and he was not invited to a work capability assessment.

However, the High Court has now dismissed Flinn’s legal challenge.

DR UK Welfare Rights and Policy Adviser Ken Butler said: “This is a really disappointing judgment. It is already twice as likely that a non-disabled student will attain a degree level qualification than a Disabled student – this gap will only increase if Disabled students are not able to supplement their income with UC.

“UC does not duplicate student finance as the DWP seeks to maintain. Student maintenance income is already counted as deductible income under UC regulations. But other types of awards to Disabled students are rightly excluded as deductible income.

“For example, Disabled students' Allowances cover extra disability-related costs or expenses someone has while studying which are over and above those provided as reasonable adjustments by the college or university. As such, they are rightly ignored as income for UC rules as UC does not include any amount for such costs.

“Hopefully there will be grounds to challenge the High Court judgment to the Court of Appeal. In the meantime, Disabled students should still claim New Style Employment and Support Allowance in order to secure a work capability assessment.  Obtaining a limited capability for work decision will help in securing UC should a future legal appeal be successful.”

Note: The High Court was looking at the rules that applied to Disabled students prior to 15 December 2021. It did not look in detail at the new more restrictive rules introduced on that date.

These rules now further restrict UC claims by those ‘receiving education’ to cases where a Disabled student had established a limited capability for work before they started education.

Should an appeal against the High Court’s judgment be successful these more restrictive rules will be nullified.

A factsheet about UC rules for Disabled students is available from contact.org.uk.

The High Court judgment in Kays, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions - [2022] EWHC 167 (Admin)  - is available from bailii.org.

For more information see our news story Disabled student granted permission to legally challenge rules excluding him from UC.