“You are the government, and we should know what you are doing and what you are spending.” This is what High Court Judge Justice Lewis said when ordering the Department for Work and Pensions – DWP to disclose details of a compensation settlement made to two men the High Court ruled were unlawfully discriminated against because of their disability.
The details of these payments is only coming out now as the government were forced to disclose them by a High Court Judge. In what I imagine was an attempt to avoid more claims, they had tried very hard to keep the payments under wraps.
The two men, known for legal reasons as TP and AR, received £6,517 and £4,788 respectively in compensation for the “pain and distress” caused when they lost over £170 a week in benefit payments.
The men had taken the DWP to court due to them losing the severe disability premium and enhanced disability premium when they moved to a Universal Credit area.
This is something I myself have fallen foul of. I used to be on Employment and Support Allowance in the Support Group and received both of these premiums. With Universal Credit came a new health assessment and as you know magically I am fit to work despite absolutely no change in my health.
More DWP lies
They had initially both been told that these premiums would be protected when they claimed Universal Credit but this was in-fact a lie. When they did claim the government’s flagship benefit they saw an immediate drop of £178 per week in their income.
A solicitor at the London law firm Leigh Day who represented them said at the time of the ruling: “Nothing about either of the claimants’ disability or care needs changed, they were simply unfortunate enough to need to move local authorities into a universal credit full-service area.
“The government needs to halt the rollout and completely overhaul the system to meet people’s’ needs, not condemn them to destitution. If this doesn’t happen, further legal challenges will inevitably follow.”
The Department for Work and Pensions under Esther McVey have lost several cases in the last few months all related to Tory welfare reforms. They were found to have discriminated against mental health sufferers on Personal Independence Payment – PIP but have still yet to back pay them as ordered.
Targeting the most vulnerable
Current policies for Universal Credit and those with health issues can only be seen as blatant targeting of people in some of the most difficult times of their lives. If you actually believe tens of thousands of sick and disabled people suddenly became fit overnight, I think you need to go away and re-evaluate things.
In a witness statement to the court, TP said constant money worries had made him more isolated, anxious and depressed. “The stem-cell transplant and chemotherapy was very gruelling and the anxiety around my finances and universal credit has made it all a lot worse,” he said.
“This reduction in my income came at the worst time it could have done. I know it has had a detrimental effect on my wellbeing and I believe it hindered my recovery, as it caused me a great deal of stress.”
It’s not over yet
Although the DWP agreed to pay compensation in this case, it is currently applying to the Court of Appeal to challenge the June ruling. It can only be for one main reason; To avoid mass payouts.
An estimated 500,000 benefit claimants are in receipt of both disability premiums and it is currently unknown how many have been affected by the roll-out of Universal Credit. Furthermore to have to maintain the payments after changing them over would inhibit their attempts to class them as fit to work. Something that would possibly cause Esther McVey physical pain.
Esther McVey has tried to call Universal Credit “world leading” and the Tories “the party of compassion.” She must be absolutely barking if she thinks anyone believes that.
What is true is that it’s blatantly clear that Universal Credit, like Personal Independence Payment is part of the DWP’s Hostile Environment towards the sick and disabled and that without a change of government, nothing will change.
My thoughts are that if they have been found to have discriminated these two men it would be the same in other cases. I only hope that the court of appeal sees through this exercise so as the DWP can stop wasting taxpayers money on court cases.
If you can spare anything for your local foodbank it would make a huge difference to them. With the summer holidays many are running out of supplies daily because of unprecedented pressure. Holiday Hunger affects 1000s because children lose their free school meals. Even if you can’t donate it’s free to spread the word.