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Government found to have discriminated again against severely disabled people in the migration to Universal Credit

Related Member(s):
Zoë Leventhal, Jessica Jones, Chris Buttler
Related Practice Area(s):
Public Law

The High Court has found that the Secretary of State for Work & Pensions has discriminated for a second time against severely disabled people in transferring them across to Universal Credit, despite the Court already having recognised their need for protection. The Court quashed the parts of the relevant regulations which have that effect.

Mr Justice Swift found that the provisions in the draft Universal Credit (Managed Migration Pilot and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations are discriminatory under ECHR, art 14 insofar as they treat two groups of severely disabled people differently in terms of migration to Universal Credit which means the claimants’ group loses out by around £100 per month.

The differential treatment arose depending on whether persons in receipt of the Severe Disability Premium had already migrated across (as natural migrants) to Universal Credit before 16 January 2019 or whether they had yet to move across by that date. The regulations mean that the post Jan 2019 group will be prevented from naturally migrating and thus become “managed migrants” with full transitional protection in due course, whereas the pre Jan group would have been provided with transitional payments only, worth significantly less than full transitional protection. This gave rise to the £100 financial difference in treatment, despite both groups having the same disabilities and being equally vulnerable.

The Court held that there was “no logical foundation” for treating these two groups differently and therefore quashed the impugned provisions. The Court said that the Secretary of State would now have to bring forward appropriate amendments in response to the Court’s judgment.

The judgment is available here, a case summary is here and Leigh Day’s press release is available here.

The Claimants were represented by Zoe Leventhal and Jessica Jones, instructed jointly by Leigh Day solicitors (for two of the claimants, TP & AR) and by the Central England Law Centre (for the other claimant, SXC). Chris Buttler acted for the Equality and Human Rights Commission who intervened by written submissions only.

For further news coverage, please see here.