Legacy benefits claimants are returning to court to defend their rights to universal credit and keep their payments in line. Four disability claimants took the government to court over their refusal to increase their benefits by PS20 per semaine, along with universal credit claimants in the pandemic.
In a decision described by activists and lawyers as a “national scam” and “direct discrimination towards disabled people”, the High Court dismissed the case last year. The claimants applied for permission to appeal the decision. It will be heard by Court of Appeal on Wednesday, December 7.
What are legacy benefits?
Legacy benefits include welfare payments like employment and support allowance. They are usually claimed by disabled and sick people who are unable to work. Legacy benefits are paid to people who have already claimed them. It is impossible to make another claim for these benefits, but many people still receive them today. Six legacy benefits are available: income-based job seeker allowance, income-related work and support allowance and income support. These include housing benefit, income credit, child tax credit, and working tax credit. You will be able to claim universal credit if you are claiming one of these benefits before December 2024.
What was the £20 universal credit increase?
The government instituted a temporary PS20 weekly rise for those who received universal credit or working tax credits at the beginning of lockdown 2020. This was to help those in need as the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the “uplift” and increased support for workers would help people get out of poverty by hundreds of thousands.
The increase was not applied for all benefits, such as the income support, jobeekers’ allowance, and employment support allowance. Many legacy benefit claimants were not eligible for PS1,500 worth of payments. Although it was originally expected that the increase would end in April 2021 (Rish Sunak extended it until September). Rishi Sunak, the Conservative party conference speaker, confirmed that the increase had been rescinded on October 6.
What was the reason legacy benefits claimants took the DWP to trial?
Osbornes Law represented four people who received disability benefits and brought the DWP to trial in 2021 for refusing to grant them the PS20-per week uplift.
They claimed that the “ongoing discriminatory treatment” between people who receive universal credit and those who are eligible for legacy benefits was discriminatory and violated the European Convention on Human Rights. Legacy benefits are more popular than universal credit for disabled people.
What was the High Court’s decision?
In April 2021, the High Court granted the case and in November, a final hearing took place. Osbornes Law states that the High Court accepted the existence of discrimination against disabled people receiving legacy benefits, but that the judge found this to be justified.
The claimants lost a legal battle against the High Court in Feb 2022. Mr Justice Swift acknowledged that it was obvious that anyone who relies only on that income level would suffer hardship, but denied that discriminatory arguments had been made. Jamie Burton, of Doughty Street Chambers led the case. He said that the decision will “pile misery onto misery for hundreds and thousands of people.”