The High Court has judged that the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) cut the benefits for two severely disabled men when they moved onto universal credit.
Both men saw a drop in their income of around £178 a month when they were placed on universal credit, instead of their old entitlements.
The Government had acted ‘unlawfully’ by denying the men a ‘top up’ on their Universal Credit claim due to their severe disability.
Lawyers for the men said the newly introduced benefit system shouldn’t “condemn them to destitution”.
The two claimants, were known only as TP and AR during the hearing.
TP said: “In my 51st year my life was completely and suddenly thrown upside down with the diagnosis of a life changing end stage non-Hodgkin Lymphoma cancer. Having had a successful career I became reliant on financial support from the welfare system.
“I always believed that I had been treated unfairly and in a discriminatory manner by the DWP, having lost out in this move into Universal Credit. I am delighted that the Courts have concurred that I have been unlawfully discriminated against.
“I feel vindicated in bringing this important Judicial Review of the DWP’s stance towards me, which also affects numerous others of the most vulnerable people in our society. I am pleased to have been able to have brought this case to the public’s attention, which casts a dark shadow on the fairness of the Universal Credit system.”
Welcoming this ruling, Michael Henson-Webb, Head of Legal at Mind, said: “It’s completely unacceptable that the Government has been unlawfully discriminating against disabled people and people with mental health problems – people who they find themselves at their most unwell, unable to work, and in need of financial support from our benefits system.
“The Government has already announced that anyone who has lost their Severe Disability Premium under Universal Credit will be reimbursed but we are seeking urgent clarification on when this will happen. We also need to ensure that nobody else loses out if for any reason they have to make a new claim for Universal Credit but their needs remain the same.
“This is yet another example of how Universal Credit has been failing to support people with mental health problems in the way that it should. The premiums were introduced so that disabled people who live independently could get the support they need to make ends meet. Many people with mental health problems rely on this money to get to appointments, to see friends and family, and to live independent lives. If the Government is really committed to supporting people with mental health problems to have control over their own lives, they must reintroduce these premiums for anyone making a claim to Universal Credit.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “The court found in our favour on three of the four points raised by the claimant. We will be applying to appeal on the one point the court found against the Department. This government is committed to ensuring a strong system of support is in place for vulnerable people who are unable to work.”