They lamented the “heinous failure” of ministers to give the same PS20 boost to universal credit recipients as to people on legacy benefits such as the employment and support allowance (ESA)
Yesterday, four legacy benefit claimants’ lawyers were in London at the Court of Appeal to challenge a decision that found the government’s decision not illegal.
The PS20 uplift was granted only to people on universal credit and it was never available to legacy benefit recipients. Paula Peters, a member the national steering group for Disabled People Against Cuts, stated that the government didn’t care about legacy benefits because of its “heinous” inability to give the PS20 uplift to them.
Martha Foulds was another DPAC steering member who traveled from Sheffield to participate in the vigil. She said that she wanted to be outside of the Royal Courts of Justice so that they could provide “a united front against the government”.
In February, the high court ruled that work and pensions ministers acted lawfully in refusing to give the PS20 rise to approximately two million ESA, JSA and income support claimants.
Although the high court acknowledged in February that there was discrimination against disabled people receiving legacy benefits, the judge ruled that the treatment differed.
The lawyers representing the claimants argue that the treatment difference was “unjustified” and “disproportionate”. This is a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Court of Appeal judges that heard the appeal this week are expected to make a decision in the coming months.DWP high court
Anna Thompson from WinVisible, a disabled women’s organization, demanded that the PS20 be reinstated for all people on universal credit. She also requested that legacy benefits be awarded to beneficiaries. This would make a “major difference” and help address the 200,000 children who were “left in poverty” last year by the elimination of the PS20 payment.
Marc Francis, the director of policy at Z2K poverty charity, stated that February’s judgment was “absolutely wrong” that disability discrimination is “never justified”. He also expressed support for the claimants fighting the case.
He suggested that the government “change its approach”. The two-tier benefits system had resulted in some claimants being “left behind”, and receiving less money.
Among those who supported the appeal were Labour’s Debbie Abrahams (a member of the Commons Work and Pensions committee), who stated that it was discriminatory of DWP to not pay the PS20-a week payment to legacy claimants.
She stated: “There is a lot to be proud of, especially over the past 10 or 12 years. The SNP’s spokesperson for disability Marion Fellows said that February’s ruling was “absolutely absurd” and that justice must prevail.
DWP refused comment on a court case in progress and did not provide any comment on the record confirming its belief that it was inappropriate to comment.