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Court of Appeal rules on lawfulness of DWP policy on advance payments

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In a judgment handed down today, the Court of Appeal has found that the DWP’s long-standing practice of withholding Universal Credit advance payments from claimants who do not have National Insurance Numbers (“NINo”) is unlawful.

Advance payments exist to provide financial support to claimants who would otherwise face destitution while they wait for their Universal Credit claims to be processed and approved. While 60% of UC claimants receive advance payments, the DWP’s practice has been to refuse them to applicants without NINos (a cohort which is overwhelmingly made up of foreign nationals).

The Court’s ruling finds that this practice is unlawful and that the DWP can consider, on the facts of an individual case, whether a claimant without a NINo meets the statutory criteria for the making of advance payments. On this basis the Court of Appeal allowed the appellants’ appeal against the decision of the Upper Tribunal which had dismissed their applications for judicial review. The appellants’ other grounds of appeal were refused.

Darryl Hutcheon (led by Richard Drabble KC) acted for one of the appellants, Ms Idowu Onakoya, instructed by Central England Law Centre.

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