DWP legal case over £20 uplift back pay for legacy benefit claimants delayed

Benefit claimants who could be due back payments if the UK Government loses a legal case over whether it was fair to exclude people on legacy benefits from extra Covid support will have to wait longer for a decision.

More than two million people on legacy benefits who did not receive the weekly £20 Universal Credit uplift, could be due payments of around £1,500 from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – dating back to March 2020 when the extra cash was first introduced.

However, the court case that was scheduled to take place at the High Court over September 28 and 29 has now been delayed and will not go ahead this month, according to one of the litigants involved in the case.

Earlier this year, the High Court granted two people claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA) the right to challenge a decision not to increase their payments in line with the top-up given to those on Universal Credit.

At the start of the pandemic in March 2020, Universal Credit claimants were given an extra £1,040 a year in coronavirus cash support – the equivalent of £20 a week or £80 a month.

However, those on legacy benefits said they deserve a similar level of support to deal with the Covid crisis because they too have been hit by rising household costs.

In June 2020, MPs on the Work and Pensions Committee called on the UK Government to raise the level of other benefits in the same way as Universal Credit.

Stephen Timms MP, chair of the committee, said at the time: “The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted weaknesses in a social security system which at times is too inflexible and slow to adapt to support people in times of crisis.

“The focus has mostly been on the unprecedented numbers of new claims for Universal Credit. But in the background, people on legacy benefits – including disabled people, carers and people with young families – have slipped down the list of priorities.”

He added: “It’s now time for the UK Government to redress that balance and increase legacy benefits too. It’s simply not right for people to miss out on support just because they happen, through no fault of their own, to be claiming the ‘wrong’ kind of benefit.”

In response, a DWP spokesperson said: “It has always been the case that claimants on legacy benefits can make a claim for Universal Credit if they believe that they will be better off.”

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