A High Court decision not to keep so-called legacy benefits in line with universal credit has been described as a “national scandal” and “direct discrimination against disabled people”.
A team of lawyers, along with four people who receive the disability benefits, took the government to court last year over its refusal to give them the same £20-per-week increase given to universal credit claimants between April 2020 and October 2021.
But the High Court has rejected the appeal, backing the original decision which will “pile misery upon misery for hundreds of thousands of people”, said Jamie Burton QC of Doughty Street Chambers, who led the case and believes the judge didn’t “properly grapple” with the arguments or evidence.
“This is a national scandal,” he added. “Let it never be ignored again that our social security system is purposely ungenerous to the point of being unfit for purpose. Extreme poverty is baked into the system and during the pandemic it got even worse.”
While Mr Justice Swift admitted that legacy benefits were “low” – and said it was “obvious that any person required to rely only on that level of income [would] suffer hardship” – the court denied arguments that the policy had been discriminatory and ruled in favour of the government in February.
The legal team representing the claimants confirmed to The Big Issue that a subsequent appeal has since been denied by the court, and that they have now submitted to the Court of Appeal in efforts to have the original decision overturned.