People on certain DWP benefit claimants could get £1,500 backdated payments

Martin Lewis provides advice on changes to legacy benefits

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As the cost of living crisis continues, and energy bills soar, any extra cash could be vital for families on low incomes. Millions of people could get this support package if the Court of Appeal says the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was wrong to exclude them from a COVID-19 pandemic top-up.

The three benefits which could receive the payments are:

  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)

People on Universal Credit received a £20 weekly increase from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) from April 2020 to October 2021.

This was to help them pay for additional costs incurred during the global health crisis and subsequent lockdowns.

The increase meant claimants received an extra £1,560 over that period.

However, the uplift was not extended those on older legacy benefits.

More than two million people on Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support and Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) were not given the cash support that those on Universal Credit received.

Many people argued that this disproportionately affected disabled people.

Once brought to court, it was accepted that there was discrimination towards disabled people on legacy benefits, however in February the judge ruled that the difference in treatment was justified.

This was not the end as a legal team decided to take the battle further and has now been granted permission for a hearing at the Court of Appeal later this year.

Paul Spencer, policy and campaigns manager at Mind, said: “The UK Government must end this two-tier benefits system, by backdating payments to the hundreds of thousands of people on legacy benefits.”

Two disabled people on ESA launched the original legal challenge and were joined by one person on Income Support and one on JSA.

Around 2.4 million people would be in line to receive the extra cash.

That’s made up of 1,846,000 people claiming Employment and Support Allowance, 264,000 on Jobseeker’s Allowance and a further 247,000 on Income Support.

If the appeal is won, the money paid out would amount to a staggering £3.74billion in Covid cash compensation.

The DWP said: “The [UK] Government introduced a temporary £20 uplift to Universal Credit, to ensure that vital support was given to those facing the most financial disruption due to the pandemic.

“Since the start of the pandemic, the [UK] Government’s priority has been to protect lives and people’s livelihoods. This includes continually supporting individuals and businesses.”

The response goes on to say how the £20 increase to Universal Credit was a “temporary measure that ensured vital support was given to those facing the most financial disruption due to the pandemic”.

The DWP statement continued: “The decision not to include the £20 uplift in legacy benefits was recently unsuccessfully challenged in the High Court on the basis of discrimination, with the Court concluding the Regulations were justified in all circumstances.

“Universal Credit provided a vital safety net for six million people during the pandemic, and we announced the temporary uplift as part of a COVID support package, worth a total of £407 billion in 2020-21 and 2021-22.”

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