The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) just admitted that a court case it lost means it may have to pay thousands of benefit claimants back-payments.
The DWP: wrong again
On 28 June, minister of state for employment Alok Sharma was forced to reveal the outcome of a legal challenge to the DWP. As the Mirror reported, the court ruled that the coalition government’s changes to regulations about Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) breached the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
As Sharma put it, a “small, specific group” of people were wrongly denied a right to a “fair hearing” against the DWP’s decision to sanction them. This was because it changed some regulations in 2013. This meant that claimants it sanctioned between 2011 and 2013 could not appeal under the old 2011 legislation.
The problem is that the DWP failed to allow for claimants’ appeals that were still ongoing when the regulations changed. Because their appeals were already in motion, it should have heard them under the old regulations. The court ruled that the DWP’s failure to allow them their appeals was a breach of Article Six of the ECHR – the right to a fair trial.
Now, the DWP has admitted just how many people are in the “small, specific group” Sharma referred to.
It has published [pdf] a draft “remedial order”, which is a fast-track amendment to the legislation in question. This allows it to change the sanction decisions of the people affected. And buried in the order, it states [pdf, p6] that the department:
estimates that approximately 3789-4305 Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants may fall into the scope of the Declaration of Incompatibility [the court ruling]. Some of these individuals may now no longer be claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
This is now the fourth time a court has forced the DWP to backtrack.
As The Canary has been reporting, the DWP lost one case just before Christmas, meaning it had to review the claims of thousands of people. It then lost another one on 14 June – this time about Universal Credit. Also in June, it lost a sex discrimination case at the EU Court of Justice.
What none of these court cases account for are people’s anxiety, financial hardship, or psychological damage. These are the possible impacts of DWP negligence on thousands of claimants – being forced to suffer because they were wrongly denied social security.
Get InvolvedSupport us and go ad-free
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.