A terminally ill claimant, known as TP, has won the right to a judicial review of the decision to force him to claim universal credit (UC), resulting in a large drop in his income. The case comes after the DWP recently lost a judicial review which will lead to an increase in personal independence payment for hundreds of thousands of claimants.
TP became terminally ill with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Castleman’s disease in 2016 and was in receipt of Severe Disability Premium (SDP) and Enhanced Disability Premium (EDP).
However, on medical advice he moved back to London to receive treatment.
Because he had moved into a full service area he was obliged to claim UC, which does not include SDP or EDP. As a result he is now £178 a month worse off.
The government have argued that there is transitional protection to ensure that claimants do not lose out as a result of moving on to UC if their circumstances remain the same.
However, what they do not make clear is that this protection will only be available to existing claimants who are part of the mass ‘managed migration’ onto UC beginning in July 2019.
Anyone who is forced to claim UC because they live in, or move to, a UC full service area and have a change of circumstances will not receive any transitional protection.
There is no logical reason whatsoever why something as simple as a change of address should lead to a cut in benefits intended to support a claimant who is disabled and living alone.
As TP’s solicitor, Tessa Gregory at Leigh Day explained:
“We believe that by taking away these essential benefits from some of the most vulnerable people in society, the government has acted unlawfully.
“For my client who suffers from a terminal illness and is undergoing gruelling chemotherapy the additional benefits are quite literally a lifeline. At a time like this he should be focussing on his health not worrying about his benefits being axed by the DWP. We believe the safety net, which any one of us might need to rely on, is being unlawfully eroded by the way Universal Credit is being introduced”
The DWP has already had to take on hundreds of extra staff to deal with reviewing all 1.6 million PIP claims after their earlier court defeat. A ruling against them in this case could throw UC into a similar state of chaos and bring much needed relief to thousands of UC claimants.