The specific case relates back to the plight of legacy benefit recipients who were unable to receive the same £20 uplift enjoyed by Universal Credit claimants. Legacy benefits are the name given to DWP payments that existed prior to the introduction of Universal Credit, which include Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).It is estimated that 2.4million claimants of legacy benefits missed out on this crucial financial support package, which was introduced in the early days of the pandemic to assist struggling households.
Notably, those who claimed ESA and Personal Independence Payment (PIP) did not receive the £20 uplift with disabled people making up a sizeable proportion of those who were left out of the support.
Two DWP benefit claimants who were affected by this decision have taken the debate regarding the uplift to the High Court, arguing they were discriminated against.
The duo are arguing those who did not receive the £20 hike on their benefit payments should be awarded the money they missed out on, which could result in claimants getting £1,560 in back payments.
This is calculated by taking into account the 12 month Universal Credit uplift from March 2020, which came to £1,040, and the six months of the payment extension till September, which was worth £560.
The initial case at the High Court was heard by a judge over two days in November 2021 with a judgement being expected in the very near future.
One of the law firms involved in the case provided an update to the stakeholders who are concerned about its potential outcome.
In a public statement, Doughty Street Chambers stated: “Judgment is awaited in the case. It is not unusual that in a case of this type and importance for many hundreds of thousands of people that judgment takes some time.
“Please be assured that as soon as judgment is handed down it will be communicated. In the meantime, please bear with us.”
William Ford, a solicitor with Osbornes Law, who is representing the two claimants in the High Court case, emphasised why his clients believe they have been discriminated against.
Mr Ford said: “This unfairness calls for a properly evidenced justification, particularly as almost two million disabled people are disproportionately affected by this decision and the pandemic generally.
“Thus far the government has failed to provide any objectively verifiable reason for the difference in treatment of people in essentially identical circumstances.”
Louise Rubin, the head of policy at disability charity Scope, explained why many disabled people feel ostracised by the Government in their decision-making over this issue.
Ms Rubin said: “Whatever the outcome of this court case, it was a mistake to exclude huge numbers of disabled people from the benefits uplift during the depths of the pandemic.
“The decision to withhold support from disabled people who receive legacy benefits caused many to feel abandoned. We’re hurtling towards a cost of living crisis, but yet again disabled people are being abandoned by the Government.
“Disabled people already face extra costs of £583 a month on average, and this is set to soar over the coming weeks and months. Sky-high inflation and spiralling energy costs will hit disabled households hardest.”
“More than four in 10 (42 percent) disabled people who rely on benefits live in poverty. Many disabled people have had to drain any savings they had to get by.
“Yet we’ve heard nothing from the Government about how they are going to stop this inequality. Levelling up means nothing if disabled people are left behind.”
Previously speaking to Express.co.uk, a DWP spokesperson said: “It has always been the case that claimants on legacy benefits can make a claim for Universal Credit if they believe that they will be better off. We do not comment on specific legal matters.”