The Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) £20 uplift to Universal Credit is facing a legal challenge. It’s from people on so-called legacy benefits. And the case may open the floodgates for thousands of other claimants.
DWP uplift: one rule for workers
The £20 uplift for Universal Credit from chancellor Rishi Sunak and the DWP has been contentious. This is because the government hasn’t helped people on things like Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Recently, Martin Lewis interviewed Sunak. It was after Sunak said in the budget that he would extend the uplift until September 2021. During the interview, Lewis asked him why he hadn’t increased so-called legacy benefits in line with Universal Credit.
Sunak said the £20 uplift:
was to help those in work
As The Canary said at the time:
In other words, the Tories think sick and disabled people don’t need extra money due to the pandemic.
On Twitter, people questioned the legality of Sunak’s policy:
I have been thinking the same. I thought the govt had a legal duty.
— 𝙱𝚎𝚗 𝙲𝚕𝚊𝚒𝚖𝚊𝚗𝚝 💚 𝙹𝚘𝚒𝚗𝙰𝚄𝚗𝚒𝚘𝚗 (@imajsaclaimant) March 6, 2021
Now, a legal case could answer that question.
A legal case
Disability News Service (DNS) has reported on a legal challenge to the uplift. Two disabled people are using legal aid to mount a judicial review. Firm Osbornes Law is representing them. The firm is looking at the government’s decision not to give an uplift to people on ESA. The case will argue that this is discrimination under the European Convention on Human Rights, because the claimants are disabled people.
Philip Wayland is one of the claimants. He told DNS that the DWP’s lack of action for ESA claimants was “blatant discriminatory policy”. Wayland said:
Their claim is ‘we have put our arms around the most vulnerable people’, when they have categorically not done that.
After 10 years of it, that is what pushed me into it, because I have had enough.
It was an accumulation of the last 10 years, feeling as though we were being treated as second-class citizens, of years of feeling ignored and treated badly.
Sick and disabled people having to take the government to court in the first place is concerning. And this has happened before. As The Canary previously reported, the DWP lost a court case over Universal Credit in 2018. And as we predicted, this ‘opened the floodgates’. Because the ruling forced the DWP to change policy.
For some, the issue of the £20 uplift may well be a clear case of discrimination. And ultimately, it shows the DWP’s systemic negligence towards sick and disabled people. It shouldn’t take a court case for the government and DWP to admit they’re at fault. But in this instance, the legal route seems to be the only one that might bring the change that’s needed.
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