TD and Others

CPAG challenges decision holding lack of universal credit transitional protection for disabled claimants lawful

TD & Ors v The Secretary of State for Work And Pensions

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) is seeking leave to appeal direct to the Court of Appeal on behalf of two disabled households who were left worse off after they were forced to move to universal credit (UC) because their existing benefits were wrongly stopped by the DWP.

This follows a High Court decision which rejected a claim of unlawful discrimination brought by the two households and refused permission to appeal.

The Government has consistently given assurances that no claimant will be worse off when they move to UC where there has been no change of circumstances.

Both households were forced to claim UC because their existing benefits were removed incorrectly by the DWP and were entitled to significantly less on UC than on their previous benefits.

Yet DWP policy also prevented the claimants from returning to their previous benefits (under the so-called ‘lobster-pot principle’- once in, there’s no way out) even after the DWP decision to end their entitlement to their existing benefits was found to be incorrect.

One of the claimants, the mother of a severely disabled child, was for a period left almost £140 per month worse off on UC than her entitlement on her previous benefits because payments for some disabled children are lower on UC than on tax credits.

The other claimant is more than £180 worse off per month on UC than she would have been on employment support allowance (ESA) because she lost the severe disability premium which is not available in UC.

Commenting on today’s High Court judgement, CPAG’s Head of Litigation Carla Clarke said:

“The High Court has found that the Secretary of State considered the impact of universal credit policy on claimants in the circumstances of our clients. But to be lawful and not to amount to discrimination, the difference in treatment of some groups of people, such as our clients, must not simply be considered but must also be justified. In our view, such justification has not been made out.

As the judge herself said: “The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions case is that she and Ministers have specifically considered the apparently arbitrary disadvantage visited on people like these claimants – caring alone for a child with severe disabilities in the case of TD and living alone with severe disabilities in the case of PR – resulting from an error in their benefits made by her department.” It is difficult to see how a disadvantage which is arbitrary can be justified.

 … This ‘arbitrary disadvantage’ is an injustice affecting potentially tens of thousands of benefit claimants who have only claimed universal credit because of incorrect decisions by the DWP, principally among them adults and children who stand to lose out on financial help with the extra costs of disability.”

For more information see Disabled Households Worse Off On Universal Credit Aim For Court of Appeal at