DWP blows £200k fighting 7 single mums and disabled people over Universal Credit

EXCLUSIVE: Tory ministers racked up a huge bill defending three cases – which the DWP is pursuing despite losing in the High Court

Tory ministers blew almost £200,000 of taxpayer cash fighting seven single mums and disabled people over Universal Credit .

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) racked up the huge bill defending three High Court battles that defeated its cruel policies.

In June 2018, top judges found the DWP acted “unlawfully” by denying top-up payments to two disabled men.

In May 2019 judges backed a claim by those same men, plus a third claimant, that said repayments were too small.

And in January 2019 four single mums won a challenge against a “nonsensical” glitch in UC that left them short of cash.

We can reveal the June case cost £91,529 in legal fees, the January case cost £52,446 and the May case cost £39,871 – a total of £183,846.

Yet Tory ministers are appealing all three cases – which means the bill is set to spiral further.

 

The battles were fought at the Royal Courts of Justice (Image: Getty Images)

 

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Margaret Greenwood said the spending was “shocking”.

The Labour MP, who uncovered the figures through a question in Parliament, said the government should instead “make good on its commitment” to improve the system.

She added: “The judgements in these cases were damning.

“And yet each time the Government has reacted by appealing rather than fixing the flaws in Universal Credit that caused hardship to the people who brought the cases.

“The Government should stop the rollout of Universal Credit and ensure that our social security system properly supports severely disabled people and single parents on low incomes rather than pursuing costly legal cases against them at the taxpayer’s expense.”

The figures include Government Legal Department litigation fees, counsel’s fees and other disbursements, as well as VAT where payable.

They did not include payment of any costs paid or which may be owed to the claimants’ solicitors.

The June 2018 case was brought by two severely disabled men, TP and AR, who were left worse off when they moved to UC.

 

Labour’s welfare chief Margaret Greenwood said the spending was “shocking” (Image: Empics Entertainment)

The High Court ruled the DWP unlawfully discriminated against themby no longer giving them a Severe Disability Premium.

The same two men and a third claimant, SXC, then won a second High Court battle over the same issue in May 2019.

They argued £80-a-month back payments offered by the DWP “short changed” them as they had actually lost up to £178.

A judge again backed them, quashing the back payments system in a move that could help 13,400 claimants in a similar position.

The January 2019 case involved a different issue and was brought by four working single mums.

Danielle Johnson, Claire Woods, Erin Barrett and Katie Stewart suffered huge changes to their UC payments when two pay cheques arrived during one monthly “assessment period”.

Despite the huge cost to the taxpayer, DWP officials are still pursuing all three cases (Image: Getty Images)

The system wrongly treated them as doubling their salary, which the ruling branded “odd in the extreme” and “nonsensical”. Experts said it could have “major implications” for other workers.

Despite the huge cost to the taxpayer, DWP officials are still pursuing all three cases.

The government has been granted permission to appeal the June case, is already appealing the January case, and has asked for permission to appeal the May case.

A DWP spokeswoman said: “No decision to defend a case is ever taken lightly.

“While it works for the majority, we have acknowledged issues with Universal Credit and made improvements.

“We continue to spend £95 billion a year on working-age benefits.”

Source: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/dwp-blows-200k-fighting-7-17261633

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