High Court considers legacy benefit uplift appeal

Thu,8 December 2022
News Benefits

An appeal against the High Court decision earlier in February not to apply the £20 Universal Credit uplift  to legacy benefit claimants during the pandemic was heard this week in the High Court in London. Members of the Disability Benefits Consortium and DR UK were outside in support.

Legacy benefits are welfare payments such as employment and support allowance, which are mostly claimed by Disabled people who cannot work.

At the beginning of the pandemic, people on Universal Credit were given an increase of £20 a week. But Disabled people on legacy benefits were left behind with no increase applied.  This resulted in an increasing number of disabled people struggling to afford food, rent and medication which has since been further exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis.  

Hearing the appeal of the four claimants in the court of appeal was Lady Justice Simler who oversaw the proceedings and heard arguments from both the claimants and the Governments representative.

The courts final decision is not expected until sometime in early 2023 and if the appeal is successful the Government will be forced to send backdated payments to those who missed out, around two million people. This would mean payments of £1,560 for each person affected – the amount they would have been given under the original £20 uplift.

Sat in the court proceedings on Wednesday, DR UK policy and campaigns officer Dan White said: “Listening to the proceedings and hearing powerful statements from the claimant’s representative that any benefit system must be non-discriminatory and that the DWP has never justified the difference in treatment of benefit claimants, was just the wording that the entire Disabled community would like to hear. We hope that although back in February the Court accepted that there was discrimination towards disabled people on legacy benefits and that the Judge ruled that the difference in treatment was justified, that this appeal tips the balance of fairness in our favour, it is only right.”