A High Court judge admits estate claimants faced ‘obvious difficulties’ over ESA, Income Support and Jobseekers Allowance – but rejected their bids to get the same £20 a month Covid boost for those using Universal Credit
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A legal fight to give around 2 million sick and disabled people a £1,500 term benefit has been overturned by the High Court.
Most of those left behind are on Employment and Support Allowance – paid for when sick or disabled, leading to angry claims of a “two-tier” benefit system.
But a Supreme Court judge ruled that the policy was not unlawfully discriminatory in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Mr Justice Swift acknowledged the bequest was “low”, and that “it is clear that any person who is claimed on that level of income alone will have to suffer”.
But he said the “difference in treatment” between Universal Credit and estate claimants was “reasonable”, as it targets people who have suddenly lost their jobs due to Covid.
Attorney William Ford, solicitor for Osbornes Law, said: “We are deeply disappointed by today’s ruling and will conduct a thorough study to assess whether there are grounds for appeal.
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“The court’s decision is a heavy blow to the more than two million people who we believe have been unjustly deprived of the £20 support available to recipients of Universal Credit during the pandemic.
“It’s not fair that people with so-called heritage interests should be discriminated against in this way.”
Anela Anwar of the welfare rights group Z2K said: “It is extremely disappointing to see this challenge dismissed, especially as the courts accept that there is discrimination against people with disabilities in their approach. DWP.
“The cost-of-living crisis is not going away, and the level of benefits remains completely disproportionate.”
Anastasia Berry of MS Society, co-chair of the Disability Rights Association, said it was a “huge blow” for 2.2 million people.
“The government has found the technical legitimacy to temporarily avoid liability,” she said. “The basic fact remains that it stands still while more disabled people are pushed into poverty during the pandemic.”
She said that Tory ministers are now “insulting in injury” by increasing the benefit to 3.1% in April, about half the rate of inflation.
One of the four claimants, Phil Wayland, 41, from Rochford, Essex, told the Mirror in November that the government’s behavior was “inhumane”.
Mr Wayland, who has claimed ESA since 2010 for depression and anxiety, said before the hearing: “I’ve seen enough of the rise of food banks and seen how a few million people become disabled disabled people, the most vulnerable, were deliberately ignored.”
Today he added: “I am extremely disappointed with the judge’s decision.”
The four claimants received Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Assistance, and Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Their lawyers claim that if their judicial review is successful, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) could be forced to return payments to those affected.
The case was supported by the Disability Welfare Foundation (DBC) – a network of more than 100 organizations including Z2K, MS Association, MND Association and Leonard Cheshire – as well as Disability Against Cuts (DPAC). .
But Mr Justice Smith ruled: “The increase in the standard benefit is a way of providing extra support to people who have lost their jobs or income because of the pandemic and have become dependent on Universal Credit for the first time.
“This group will face specific disruptions.
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“This increase is intended to cushion the sudden impact of job loss or job loss.
“I accept this as a legitimate target.”
He added: “The new claimants will need to adjust to lower income. They will be affected differently than those who have claimed benefits. “
The judge accepted that £20 a week also helps millions of Common Credit claimants, who have already benefited, but says this does not change his view of the law.
The court ruled the exclusion as a “radical departure” from the decades-old benefit policy “with little to no democratic oversight and limited analysis of the consequences”.
The attorneys argued that the DWP’s defense that it could not increase the estate’s benefits overnight due to the more complex computer system was not “reasonable”.
Shadow Minister for Disability Vicky Foxcroft said: “The decision by Conservative ministers not to extend the £20 support to estate beneficiaries is unfair. most difficult for people with disabilities when they need support the most.
“Incredibly, there are more than one million disabled people living in poverty today compared to 2010. But the Tories continue to ignore the struggle they face with the government’s cost of living crisis. created by Boris Johnson.”
A DWP spokesman said: “We welcome the Court’s favor in our favor. A temporary £20 increase to Universal Credit claimants ensures vital support is given to those facing the heaviest financial disruptions due to the pandemic. “
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/breaking-dwp-benefit-claimants-lose-26266677 DWP claimants lose Supreme Court case to award 2 million people £1,500 each