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The High Court have once again dealt a damning blow to the government’s Universal Credit plans. Today that a judge has ruled the government’s Universal Credit migration arrangements for those who previously received the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) and, moved onto Universal Credit before 16 January 2019 as; “unlawful.”
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will have to rethink its plans to compensate disabled benefit claimants who moved to Universal Credit prior to January 16th if they were in receipt of the Severe Disability Premium (SDP).
Under the current rules, claimants who moved onto Universal Credit before January 16th 2019 would get £80 per month in compensation. This is know as the SDP Gateway. However claimants who would be part of “managed migration”, would receive a top-up of £180 per month. £180 is the amount actually lost when claimants on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) with the SDP, move onto Universal Credit.
The SDP Gateway came into force on 16 January 2019 and prevents any further “severely disabled benefit claimants” from being forced to move onto Universal Credit until they are subject to a managed migration process.
The High Court has now ruled that this provision is “unlawful”.
Although it had not yet come into force, had it done so, over 10,000 severely disabled claimants would have been £100 a month worse off. A two-tier system would have been created whereby a date defined how much you got.
DWP’s Solution to Previous Court Ruling Thrown Out
The case was brought by two men with severe disabilities, known as TP & AR, represented by Leigh Day Solicitors and, by a woman known as SXC who is also severely disabled. SXC was represented by Central England Law Centre.
Last year TP & TR won another landmark case at the High Court. It was ruled that the government had “unlawfully discriminated” against them when they moved Local Authority and were required to claim Universal Credit
It is this ruling that forced the DWP to draw up the so-called “SDP Gateway”. Now their solution to last years case has been thrown out too. This is a huge embarrassment for the DWP and Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd MP.
Rudd promised in January that she was going to listen to claimants concerns. Now she has wasted money fighting to stop this ruling showing that her claims of compassion are no more than empty words.
A statement by TP &TR was released through their solicitors Leigh & Day saying;
“After the High Court judgement last year, we thought we had finally forced the government to ensure that people with severe disabilities who had to move onto 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.”
Yet again the government’s plans for disabled benefit claimants have been found unlawful.
Margaret Greenwood MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, responding to the news that the Government was defeated again on Universal Credit migration, said:
“This judgment highlights just how badly the Government failed severely disabled people living without a carer, when it forced them onto Universal Credit.
“It is shameful that the Government has wasted public money trying to justify a lower level of payments to this group of disabled people, who need support to live independently.
“The level set was far short of the loss they have suffered. Disabled people should not have to fight through the courts to receive the support they should be entitled to.
“The judgment now leaves the Government’s plans for the managed migration of Universal Credit in chaos. The Government must stop the roll out of Universal Credit.”
I contacted the DWP for comment but received no response by the time of publishing.