DWP claimants on legacy benefits could get £1,500 back payments after appeal hearing next week

A court hearing is set to take place next week which could potentially result in people on legacy benefits being awarded more than £1,500 in backdated payments.

The appeal hearing is over the £20 weekly uplift which was paid to millions of people claiming Universal Credit during the coronavirus pandemic but not to those on legacy benefits. One of the litigants involved in the challenge confirmed on social media that the legal team representing four benefit claimants will present their case to the Court of Appeal on Wednesday, December 7, 2022.

The post, shared on Twitter, said: “I can now confirm that I have had word from legal counsel today that the hearing in the appeal of the #LegacyBenefits case will be held on 7th December 2022.” The legal team lost a High Court challenge over the £20 weekly Universal Credit uplift in February and launched an application to appeal the ruling soon after.

In August, William Ford KC at Osbornes Law, shared the long-awaited update that two million people on older-style benefits had been waiting to hear but no date for the appeal was given at the time, reports the Daily Record. The right to appeal the ruling could now result in the four claimants involved in the case being awarded more than £1,500 in backdated payments from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – and set a precedent for everyone who missed out on the uplift.

While there is no guarantee a ruling in the claimants’ favour would result in backdated payments for people across the UK also on legacy benefits who missed out on the extra support, it could trigger an avalanche of similar legal challenges.

Why was there an application to appeal?

People on Universal Credit received a £20 weekly increase from the DWP from April 2020 to October 2021 to help them pay for additional costs incurred during the global health crisis and subsequent lockdowns. However, the uplift was not extended to more than two million people on older benefits such as Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support and Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) – which campaign groups said disproportionately affected disabled people.

Four claimants brought a challenge to the High Court in November 2021 in relation to the UK Government’s failure to apply a similar increase to legacy benefits. Two of the claimants are in receipt of ESA and the third and fourth claimants are in receipt of Income Support and JSA respectively.

The court accepted that there was a greater proportion of disabled persons in receipt of legacy benefits, compared to disabled people on Universal Credit, and that both groups of disabled claimants were in the same position. But, while the court accepted there was discrimination towards disabled people on legacy benefits, the judge ruled that the difference in treatment was justified.

The claimants are being represented by William Ford KC of Osbornes Law, Jamie Burton KC of Doughty Street Chambers and Desmond Rutledge of Garden Court Chambers.

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