The Conservative government has been found to have discriminated against thousands of disabled people who were moved to Universal Credit, the Court of Appeal dismissing the government’s appeals against two previous decisions found against them.
The court ruling upholds two High Court challenges brought against the government by men known only as TP and AR. The decision confirms the judgment that the then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions had acted unlawfully.
Having being forced to move onto Universal Credit due to relocation, TP and AR lost their disability benefits and around £180 a month in income.
The court found that the government had acted unlawfully as the men had been treated differently to others who had moved within their local authority area, ruling that those who were previously on disability benefits should have been protected against drops in income from relocation.
Following the ruling, the government put a stop to severely disabled people being forced onto Universal Credit, engaging in a process of back-payments that ended with the duo being paid back just £80 instead of the lost £180.
Making a second challenge, TP and AR were joined by a woman known only as SXC, all three arguing that the payments were illegal and they were entitled to the full amount. The High Court found again in their favour last year, judging that the men had been treated differently to those remaining on disability benefit.
“The High Court ruled today that the government’s Universal Credit migration arrangements for those who previously received the Severe Disability Premium and moved onto Universal Credit before 16 January 2019 are unlawful. If the arrangements had been allowed to go ahead they would have left over 10,000 severely disabled people around a £100-a-month worse off.”The Leigh Day law firm representing the claiments on the original decision
Despite attempts at an appeal by the government, the Court of Appeal has found unanimously that the original judgements in favour of the claimants were correct and the government had indeed discriminated against both TP and AR alongside thousands of other severely disabled citizens up and down the country.
“We hope that the Court of Appeal ruling will finally bring an end to our fight for severely disabled people not to be disadvantaged by Universal Credit. It is still so shocking to us that we have had to fight so long and so hard just to get the government to see that their policy is unfair.”AR
The judgment is mere legal confirmation of what most disabled people are already well aware, that being that the government has systematically engaged in a policy of discrimination against those with disabilities, disproportionately disadvantaging thousands through the cruelty of Universal Credit.
Universal Credit has been nothing short of a disaster for hundreds of thousands of the most disadvantaged in society, bringing unnecessary levels of poverty and suffering to those in need. It has caused both the loss of homes and assets, forcing entire families into utilising food banks. Following this latest devastating decision, the government must now scrap this failed policy and replace Universal Credit with a better managed and fairer system.
Main Image: Boris Johnson | Kuhlmann /MSC