Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) yesterday won a court of appeal battle on behalf of legacy benefits claimants, including an ESA claimant, who were wrongly forced onto universal credit and were worse-off as a result.
The claimants were forced to claim UC following errors by the DWP. But even when they won their appeals against the decisions, regulations prevented them from going back onto their former benefits.
PR, the ESA claimant, was £180 a month worse-off.
Another claimant, TD the mother of a disabled child, was £140 a month worse-off.
If the errors had not been made and they had eventually moved onto UC via ‘managed migration’ they would have had transitional protection to protect them from this sudden fall in their income.
The DWP’s reason for leaving the claimants worse-off was that it would be too administratively complex and expensive to correct these sort of mistakes.
The Court of Appeal held that this was not a sufficient justification to treat the claimants differently.
The DWP will now either have to return the claimants, and others like them, to their former benefits or top up their UC to make up the shortfall.
Welcoming today's judgment, Child Poverty Action Group's solicitor Carla Clarke said:
“Today's judgment corrects a glaring injustice for the two households in this case, and many others in a similar situation, who end up worse off through no fault of their own. The court was clear that the way in which UC is implemented must comply with human rights. Claimants pushed onto UC when the DWP wrongly stops their old benefits should not have to tolerate an income drop that causes them real hardship simply because the DWP considers it is too costly or too complex to rectify its own mistake. Not least among those who will benefit from the judgment are children and adults who otherwise stood to lose out on crucial help with the extra costs of disability."