Estate beneficiaries said it was heartbreaking after the High Court ruled the DWP was fair to exclude them from the £20 a week increase during the pandemic.
Rishi Sunak’s Treasury provides it all General Credit claimants get a £20 a week increase after Covid cases soar in 2020 – tell households they will be helped to cover bills and housing for 18 months whether whether they work or not.
However, recipients of the Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support and Jobseeker’s Allowance, all known as ‘legacy’ benefits, were told they would not be eligible – although the majority of them have registered disabilities.
Four of these claimants brought a landmark challenge appealed to the High Court, calling for support to be withdrawn for the beneficiaries”, however today the judges ruled against their support.
That means about 2 million sick and disabled people won’t get £1,500 in expired benefitsdespite their own difficulties during the pandemic.
Xinhua News Agency / REX / Shutterstock)
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.
Anja Brown, 55, has been receiving ESA for several years. She was forced to give up her job at Defense Minister due to a spinal cord injury in 2010, and subsequently became homeless.
Ms Brown, from Chepstow, Wales, said the High Court’s decision felt deeply unfair.
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“His base is for people who lost their jobs due to Covid, but everyone who claims Universal Credit has it. We are all affected by Covid, who are too vulnerable to leave their homes with extra costs like food delivery.”
Anja was unable to transfer to General Credit because she received the severely disabled element.
“How is that fair? I contributed to the welfare system, paid taxes and am now being treated as if I was the lowest of the lowest, because I have a disability?
“Why am I less worthy than someone who just lost his job?”
Mirror reader Tracy Harrison, 54, says she feels left out. She has recovered from blood cancer but now lives with her mother, 74 years old and unable to work.
She told us: “I am heartbroken to learn that this has been turned down after months of waiting for a decision.
“My mother and I started cleaning the holiday before the pandemic hit. It was extremely hard work and the pay was not high.
“Sadly, my health was seriously affected. I was hospitalized for months and couldn’t work.
“Since the pandemic happened, everything has increased in price, food, petrol, medicine, gas, electricity, rent but no benefit.
“Due to my health problems, I always feel cold. We don’t have the ability to turn on the heater, we have to limit the time it is on and the heat is high, we are never really warm.
“There’s a glimmer of hope to think we might get this £1,500 payment back.
“To add insult to injury, our rent is going up to £50 a month and we have now received an eviction notice.
“If you don’t have money, how do you move house?
“If things continue as they are, there will be a lot of vulnerable people becoming homeless, pensioners and disabled people sleeping.”
Reader Mrs Robinson worked until the pandemic hit, but lost her job after schools were forced to close.
“I started a new job in March 2020, after raising my three kids, I’m so proud to be back in the working world after 16 years of raising kids,” she said.
“After the first week the schools closed, I had no choice but to accept the zero-hours contract because I didn’t have childcare. Then my employer told me if I didn’t. can return to work in August. 1 they will terminate my contract, which they did.
“At what point do the courts think it’s fair to help claimants of General Credit? They don’t know what happens to families on that line.
Hugh Ferguson, ESA recipient, agrees. “They say this is mainly for people who are struggling or have lost their jobs due to the pandemic,” he said.
“Surely if this were the case they should have raised the bar for this group of people, not made it common to all Universal Credit claimants?”
Under the terms of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Judge Mr Justice Swift ruled that the policy was not unlawful discrimination in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.
He admits the estate benefit is “low”, and that “it is clear that any person who is required to rely solely on that level of income 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, an attorney for the four claimants, said: “The court’s decision is a devastating blow to the more than two million people we believe have been unjustly deprived of their funds. £20 support is available to those receiving General Credit during the pandemic.”
The four claimants received Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Assistance, and Jobseeker’s Allowance.
“The cost-of-living crisis is not going to go away, and the level of benefits remains completely disproportionate,” said Anela Anwar of welfare rights group Z2K.
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 Tory ministers were now “insulting in injury” by raising subsidies by 3.1 per cent in April, about half the rate of inflation.
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.
“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. “
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 who are facing the most severe financial disruptions due to the pandemic. “
https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/families-broken-after-losing-high-26269362 Families devastated after losing battle before the Supreme Court for £1,500 to give up Common Credit