The Government will now have to decide if it appeals, comes back, and offers Universal Credit claimants additional money. But there is no deadline.
Universal Credit claimants that receive less than they received on previous ‘legacy benefits” could be eligible to get more cash following a court case today. But, it all depends on a government decision.
Two Universal Credit claimants who received less benefits than their earlier benefits received discrimination in court.
There are 50,000 people in the same position, and repaying them would cost around £150million, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.
However, this doesn’t mean that claimants will automatically be paid.
Today’s court ruling found that two Universal Credit claimants TP and AR were discriminated against illegally by the DWP during their transfer from older legacy benefits’.
This has been going on since 2012 when more generous benefits were gradually replaced by Universal Credit’s one-size-fits all system.
How can this be?
Claimants getting Severe Disability Premium (SDP) and Enhanced Disability Premium (EDP) suddenly found they were getting £180 less a month on average when they swapped to Universal Credit in 2016 and 2017.
AR and TP, both of whom were then challenged in court.
That led to a DWP proposal to give an £80 increase for all those affected.
AR and TP were offered more than that in a one-off deal by the DWP.
But the pair brought another legal challenge, saying that £80 each wasn’t enough for all the other claimants.
The £80 rule was then torn up as the case went back to court.
In 2019, the DWP then came back and offered £120 per claimant, which would have included TP and AR.
AR and TP said it wasn’t enough and filed another legal challenge that led to today’s ruling.
What next for Universal Credit claimants who are underpaid?
It all depends on the decision of the DWP.
This is because while the court may point out discriminatory behavior, it cannot direct the Government to take action.
A court can’t also set a timeline for any decision made by the DWP.
One option is that the DWP comes back with an increase to the earlier £120.
While the average claimant is losing £180 a month, the average figure per claimant will vary.
The DWP may offer more money but it is likely that it will offer a fixed amount, just as it has done before.
Some claimants will receive less than they actually lost, while others may get more.
Another option is for DWP to appeal the court’s decision. If this happens, the case will be remanded to the court.
A spokesperson for the DWP stated: “We are considering the court’s judgment and will respond in due course.”
Leigh Day, a law firm, represented AR and TP.
Tessa Gregory, Leigh Day partner, said: “Whilst we are delighted that the court has once again found in our clients’ favour, we do not understand why this matter is still being litigated.
“Following the three previous findings of unlawful discrimination the DWP should have ensured our clients were not losing out on severe and enhanced disability payments following their move from legacy benefits to Universal Credit.
“Our clients hope that this judgment marks the end of the road and that the DWP will stop wasting money on legal fees and get on with protecting the vulnerable.”