DWP face two appeals by Universal Credit claimants with severe disabilities.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has finally agreed to pay compensation to two disabled men who saw their benefits drastically reduced when they were forced onto the new universal credit.
The high court had ruled in June that DWP unlawfully discriminated against the two men, known as TP and AR for legal reasons, under the European Convention on Human Rights.
But DWP forced their lawyers to another court hearing to prove the losses they experienced.
An agreement announced this week meant the full hearing did not need to take place, with each of the men now set to receive thousands of pounds in compensation.
But DWP is still appealing the finding of discrimination.
TP had been forced to move to an area where universal credit had been rolled out so he could access specialist healthcare, following a diagnosis of end stage non-Hodgkin Lymphoma cancer.
AR had also had to move to a universal credit “full service” area, in his case because the imposition of the bedroom tax meant his previous home was unaffordable.
Before moving, both men had received the severe disability premium (SDP) and enhanced disability premium (EDP) on top of employment and support allowance.
SDP and EDP are aimed at meeting the additional care needs of disabled people with high support needs who live alone with no carer, but these premiums are being scrapped under universal credit.
Universal Credit rules which saw two severely disabled men miss out on £178 a month in vital benefits are unlawful and “discriminatory”, the High Court in London has ruled in a landmark legal case.
The two claimants, known only as TP and AR, were in receipt of the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) and Enhanced Disability Premium (EDP), which are designed to meet care costs for those without a carer, before they were required to claim Universal Credit after moving to a new area.
However, both the SDP and EDP have been scrapped under Universal Credit, despite reasurances from Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey that “no one will experience a reduction in the benefit they are receiving at the point of migration to Universal Credit where circumstances remain the same”.
TP is a former Cambridge graduate and worked in the finance sector, before being diagnosed with terminal illness – Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and Castleman’s disease in 2016.
AR is 35 and suffers from severe mental health issues. He moved from Middlesbrough to Hartlepool in 2017 to escape the hated Bedroom Tax, but soon found himself facing the much criticised Universal Credit system and a serious drop in income.
Source: Universal Credit ‘discriminates’ against disabled people, High Court rules : Welfare Weekly
Next month, a terminally ill man is set to take on the government – and with it, the disastrous universal credit (UC) policy. Known only as TP, a 52-year-old ex-City worker – who has non-Hodgkin lymphoma and the lymph node condition Castleman disease – is launching a landmark challenge at the high court after becoming financially worse off under the new benefit system.
The government says that disabled people will be protected by “top-up payments” as they transfer to UC but no such payments are planned until July 2019. The Department for Work and Pensions claims UC means support is focused on those “who need it most”, but a government removing SDP and EDP – benefits designed to help severely disabled people living without a carer – is pulling a safety net from citizens with the greatest needs. This includes disabled single parents who, without their benefits to pay for help to cook or wash, are likely to be forced to rely on their children as young carers. TP’s case shows this inhumanity in a nutshell. He discovered he was dying in 2016 and moved to London to receive treatment, but as it was an area where UC had already been rolled out in the capital, his benefits were cut by £178 a month.
It’s the political equivalent of kicking someone when they’re down. Disabled people are already hardest hit by austerity, especially when cash-strapped councils are increasingly charging them for their social care (a charge that can hit those receiving SDP even harder as they don’t have a family carer). Research from disability charity Scope this month finds disabled people have to pay on average an extra £570 a month for the costs of disability for anything from taxis to specialist food, with one in five paying more than £1,000 extra per month.