DWP benefits claimants could be entitled to £1,500 payment boost – are you eligible?

Sajid Javid grilled on Universal Credit and National Insurance

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In the early days of the pandemic, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £20 uplift to Universal Credit payments to support struggling households. This increase in the amount received by Universal Credit claimants is due to be rolled back at the end of September. Over the last 18 months, those on Universal Credit have received a payment boost of £1,500 over the course of the pandemic.

However, this boost was reserved for certain benefits and claimants, while those on “legacy” benefits did not get the same increase to their payments.

“Legacy” benefits is the name given to certain benefit payments which are set to be completely replaced by Universal Credit.

The lack of support for “legacy” claimants has been noticed within the Government with Stephen Timms MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, noting the lack of fairness last year.

Mr Timms said: “The focus has mostly been on the unprecedented numbers of new claims for Universal Credit.

“But in the background, people on legacy benefits – including disabled people, carers and people with young families – have slipped down the list of priorities.

“It’s now time for the Government to redress that balance and increase legacy benefits too. It’s simply not right for people to miss out on support just because they happen, through no fault of their own, to be claiming the ‘wrong’ kind of benefit.”

In response to this, some “legacy” claimants are arguing they have been discriminated against and have taken their case to the High Court.

If the High Court challenge is successful, claimants could receive upwards of £1,500 to make up for the lack of £20 uplift to their previous payments in the last 18 months.


The claimants taking legal action against DWP are on Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support and Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).

Originally, two disabled Britons brought the case forward but they have since been joined by one person on Income Support and one on JSA.

Represented by Osbornes Law, the group are arguing the lack of equivalent extra support during the pandemic is “discriminatory and unjustified”.

It is estimated that around 1.9million DWP benefits claimants on ESA have been without the £20 uplift given to those on Universal Credit.

William Ford, the solicitor representing the claimants, is specifically calling out the Government’s failure to support some of the country’s most vulnerable who are in need of financial assistance.

Mr Ford said: “We are pursuing this legal challenge based on the proposition that the pandemic means those dependent upon basic allowances are facing higher basic living costs, and yet despite their very similar circumstances, only some of them receive a Covid-specific uplift to help meet those costs.

“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.”

Earlier this month, international organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW), wrote to MPs to warn them that the £20 cut to Universal Credit would breach the UK’s international human rights obligations.

On top of this, the human rights watchdog called on the Government to give the £20 uplift to those on “legacy” benefits.

In a statement, HRW stated: “We urge you to use the period immediately following the resumption of Parliament to make the Government think again.

“There is still time to act now to prevent the increase in poverty and queues for aid at food banks that will result from this retrogressive move.”

The High Court hearing is currently set to take place from September 28 to 29 later this month.

If the court rules in favour of the claimants, one solution to address the benefits issue could be to issue back payments to those affected. This would result in “legacy” benefits claimants receiving a £1,500 payment boost.

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