After the Court of Appeal made a strong and clear decision, two severely disabled men named TP and AR asked the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to pay up to 50,000 vulnerable benefits claimants who were wrongfully deprived of thousands of pounds worth of benefits.
Last year, a court decided that the DWP was unfair to the men when it didn’t give them the full £180 a month difference between the money they got from so-called legacy benefits and the money they got from Universal Credit after they moved to an area where the new benefit had already been rolled out.
This is the fourth time that the High Court has ruled in favour of the couple. They started their legal campaign after their income dropped drastically when they switched to Universal Credit in 2016 and 2017 because they moved to an area where it was available.
Before moving, each man got Severe Disability Premium (SDP) and Enhanced Disability Premium (EDP).
After TP and AR fought in court for a long time, the DWP decided to make up for the loss of SDP but not for EDP. It meant that people with severe disabilities who were affected by the policy would only get £120 a month instead of the full loss of up to £180 a month. In 2022, the court ruled that this was unfair.
The DWP tried to appeal the 2022 ruling, but on January 12, 2023, the Court of Appeal said no, making it clear that the Government’s arguments were not valid and putting an end to this long-running case.
TP and AR have now asked the DWP to fix the discrimination right away by writing to government lawyers. They say that the DWP should do something to help up to 50,000 people who have been hurt.
It is thought that this will cost up to £150 million to fix because many of the people affected were shorted about £60 a month for several years.
This Court of Appeal decision also means that the High Court’s decision in favour of claimants AB and F, a disabled mother and child who were represented by Southwark Law Centre, stands.
The High Court said that it was unfair that they weren’t given transitional protection against the difference of around £150 a month between how much they got in lower disabled child element on legacy benefits and how much they got in Universal Credit per disabled child.
Claimant AR said: “TP and I have had to fight for justice for 5 years and go to court four times. It is high-time the DWP finally gets this right.
“The policy has caused me and others serious hardship and now that the DWP has been refused permission to appeal last year’s court ruling, we expect them to pay us back the money we have lost and fix what they have been told repeatedly is discriminatory.”
Leigh Day partner Tessa Gregory and solicitors Carolin Ott and Lucy Cadd represent TP and AR.
Tessa Gregory said: “Our clients have had to fight three judicial review claims extending over a period of more than five years.
“The Secretary of State should have acted to remedy the unlawful discrimination after the first ruling against her in 2018. Instead, she chose to continue to short-change this highly vulnerable group of individuals and wasted public funds and court time on unnecessary legal proceedings.
“The Court of Appeal’s latest ruling means she has now exhausted all legal avenues open to her. She must take steps to remove the discrimination identified without delay by adopting provisions which reflect the actual loss severely disabled benefit claimants like our clients have suffered.”