The DWP have suffered yet another major blow in the courts which will require them to identify claimants who have lost out and will be eligible for back payments. This time the benefit involved is universal credit (UC), following on from court defeats in relation to personal independence payment (PIP) and employment and support allowance (ESA).
The High Court judgement yesterday found that it was unlawful for the DWP to drastically cut the income of two claimants, TP and AR, when they transferred from UC to ESA.
Both claimants were in receipt of the severe disability premium (SDP) and enhanced disability premium when claiming ESA.
However, because they moved to a different local authority are they were obliged to claim UC instead.
As a result both claimants were worse off by almost £180 a month.
The DWP are providing transitional protection to claimants who are moved from ESA to UC via a ‘managed migration process’ beginning in July 2019, so that their income will not immediately drop. But claimants who have a change of circumstance, such as moving from one local authority area to another - natural migration - before July 2019 begins received no such protection.
However, the DWP have now announced moves to identify claimants who have lost their SDP as a result of natural migration and repay them the money they have lost out on. ESA claimants who are in recepit of SDP will now no longer be moved to UC until transitional protection begins. According to Esther McVey, secretary of state for work and pensions:
In order to support the transition for those individuals who live alone with substantial care needs and receive the Severe Disability Premium, we are changing the system so that these claimants will not be moved to Universal Credit until they qualify for transitional protection. In addition, we will provide both an on-going payment to claimants who have already lost this Premium as a consequence of moving to Universal Credit and an additional payment to cover the period since they moved.
However, no mention was made in the government’s statement of any intention to compensate claimants for the loss of their EDP.
The DWP is intending to appeal the decision in TP and AR.