Amber Rudd says Universal Credit is ‘absolutely compassionate’ on same day the high court rules assessments are ‘unlawful’

Amber Rudd and the DWP logo
Support us and go ad-free

DWP secretary Amber Rudd has said that Universal Credit is “absolutely compassionate”. Her comments were made on the same day that a high court judge ruled that the Universal Credit assessment regime had caused “severe cash flow problems” and was “wrong in law” for some claimants.

High court rules against DWP

On 11 January, the high court ruled against the DWP in a case brought by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) on behalf of four lone mothers . The case centred around the way in which the DWP assesses income for Universal Credit claimants. Working claimants receive Universal Credit monthly in arrears with the amount based on their previous month’s income.

But the four claimants in the case were all paid on a day very close to their assessment day. That meant that if they were paid early because of a weekend or bank holiday, they were treated as “receiving two monthly wages in one assessment period – which in turn dramatically reduced their UC award”.

DWP says employers should be held responsible

The DWP had refused to make any changes to avoid this situation, claiming that the system was lawful, that it would cost more to make individual adjustments, and that any changes should be made by the employer, not the DWP.

The high court rejected the DWP’s argument, saying that:


We do not belittle the administrative inconvenience or the cost involved but the language of the regulations cannot be distorted to give effect to a design which may have proceeded on a basis which is wrong in law.

“Severe cash flow problems”

The judgment went on to say that:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free


The way in which universal credit is calculated in their cases leads to fluctuations in the amounts they receive which create severe cash flow problems for the claimants living as they do on low incomes with little or no savings.

CPAG said that this meant that the way the DWP had been assessing income for Universal Credit claimants was “unlawful”. In response, the DWP said that:

We are carefully considering the court’s judgment.

“One or two individuals”

Ironically, the judgment came out on the same day that Rudd gave an interview to the Mirror, in which she said:

The overall product that is Universal Credit is absolutely compassionate…Some of the criticisms that have come from various publications have been based on one or two particular individuals where the advice hasn’t worked for them.

UN rapporteur criticises Universal Credit

In fact, it’s very clear that Universal Credit has been a disaster not for “one or two particular individuals“, but for huge numbers of those on the regime. UN rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, visited the UK in November 2018. His report was stinging about the benefit. He said that:

many aspects of the design and rollout of the programme have suggested that the Department for Work and Pensions is more concerned with making economic savings and sending messages about lifestyles than responding to the multiple needs of those living with a disability, job loss, housing insecurity, illness, and the demands of parenting.

The particular wrong highlighted in this court case may be rectified, but the terrible injustice of Univeral Credit continues.

Featured image via YouTube screengrab/ UK Government/Wikimedia Commons

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. Have you picked up the on the story about the disabled being targeted by Lancashire Police. The are reporting the disabled for attending the anti-fracking demos. One man tipped out of his wheelchair, one lady reported to the DWP for driving her mobility car to the demo which has now been taken away and she is having a benefit taken away and faces court for a reclaim of £6000. The UK is not only hostile to immigrants but to disabled to an even greater degreee

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.