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UC claimants challenge loss of Severe Disability Premium

1st May saw the start of the first judicial review regarding UC, which has been taken on behalf of two severely disabled men, who have both seen their benefits dramatically reduced due to the loss of the severe disability premium. The hearing which was scheduled to last four days, could potentially affect thousands of severely disabled people across the country.

Whilst the government have repeatedly said that no-one will be worse off on Universal Credit, there are many disabled claimants who are. Leigh Day, the solicitors representing the two claimants, have said that the DWP have unlawfully discriminated against these two claimants (and many more) - severely disabled people, living alone, and with no carer.

The action was initially brought by a man known only as TP in order to protect his identity. TP is a former Cambridge graduate that had worked in the city and around the world within the financial sector. He was diagnosed as being terminally ill in 2016 and is suffering from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Castleman’s disease. The other person being represented in the case, known as AR, has severe mental health issues.

Under the legacy benefit system, both TP and AR were in receipt of the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) and Enhanced Disability Premium (EDP), which were specifically aimed at meeting the additional care needs of severely disabled people living alone with no carer.
Due to a change in their circumstances their legacy benefits were brought to an end and they had to claim Universal Credit instead, which for them*, provided less financial support.

The argument is that the UC regulations are unlawful, because the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has breached the Equality Act 2010 in failing to have due regard to the impact of removing the premiums on severely disabled people and because they discriminate against the severely disabled living alone with no carer, as compared to other severely disabled people, contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Supporting the men’s case, the Equality and Human Rights Commission are intervening in the legal proceedings and the national mental health charity Mind have supplied witness evidence.

* Some severely disabled people can be better off on UC.