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High Court rules loss of around £180 a month disability premiums on claiming Universal Credit is unlawful discrimination

27 January 2022

Two Disabled men, TP and AR, have won a fourth legal challenge over the DWP’s failure to provide adequate transitional payments to protect them and others from a ‘cliff-edge’ loss of income following their move to Universal Credit (UC).

According to the DWP, the ruling will affect up to 50,000 Disabled people and will involve sums of up to £150 million to put right.

Before moving to UC, both TP and AR had received the severe disability premium (SDP) and the enhanced disability premium (EDP) in their benefits, which were designed to meet the additional care needs of severely Disabled people living alone with no carer.

Despite being advised by DWP officials that they would receive transitional relief – meaning in effect their income would not change – when they moved on to UC and their EDP and SDP payments stopped.

TP moved house on clinical advice after he was diagnosed with a terminal illness. AR moved after the bedroom tax forced him to find a cheaper home. Both were moved on to UC automatically.

In giving its judgment, the High Court held 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 and that this constituted unlawful discrimination.

It also held that the failure to provide transitional protection against the loss of the lower disabled child element of Child Tax Credit to other claimants was unlawful discrimination.

Tessa Gregory of Leigh Day Solicitors who represented TP and AR said: “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 following their move from legacy benefits to UC.

“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.”
 
For more information see Severely disabled benefits claimants win legal challenge over loss of income caused by move on to UC available from leighday.co.uk.

The Court of Appeal’s full judgement in favour of TP and AR is available from bailii.org.