Millions of people claiming benefits could get £1,500 in back-dated pay if a court appeal starting next month succeeds.
During the Covid pandemic, Universal Credit (UC) payments were increased by £20 a week.
The increase in UC payments was paid between 30 March 2020 and 5 October 2021 – and the additional pay for all 79 weeks amounts to £1,580.
But the extra money was not paid to those claiming legacy benefits – income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.
Four claimants of legacy benefits are bringing the case against the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) – to be heard on either 6 or 7 December – and, if successful, they could get the payment backdated.
Also, if the appeal succeeds, it would set a precedent for more than two million other claimants of legacy benefits to also receive the money that they could be owed by the DWP.
The appeal comes after the High Court dismissed the case in February. In August, it was confirmed that the Court of Appeal had granted permission for the claimants to appeal.
The claimants had argued that the difference in treatment between those in receipt of universal credit and those in receipt of legacy benefits was discriminatory and contrary to Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
William Ford KC, a solicitor from Osbornes Law, said: “The case centres on a claim of unlawful discrimination between two groups, those on Universal Credit and those on legacy benefits.
“If the court finds in favour of that and makes a declaration, the [UK] government has to go away and then decide how to rectify that.
“But the court can’t tell the DWP what to do, so we have to wait and see. The hope would be that the [UK] government comes up with some sort of package of support for those on legacy benefits.”
A DWP spokesperson has argued that claimants of the legacy benefits could “make a claim for Universal Credit if they believe that they will be better off.”
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