Benefit Lawsuit

It has to come to the attention of Direct Access that a judicial review case was filed against the work and pensions Secretary Therese Coffey based on the accusation that the government treats claimants of universal credit more favourably than the millions of disabled people in the UK who claim other means-tested benefits.

The case was put forward by four benefit claimants, who argue that the £20-a-week increase to recipients of universal credit as a result of the pandemic discriminates against those receiving other benefits such as ESA (employment and support allowance) and JSA (jobseeker’s allowance). Their lawyers are arguing that Coffey has perpetuated a “radical and unprecedented departure” from decades of social security policy. In addition, that Coffey’s actions were discriminatory under the European Convention on Human Rights.

If this court case is successful, it is possible that nearly two million disabled people in the UK will receive up to £1500 in backdated payments.

When we consider the events of the past 20 months, where millions of people were out of work in addition to travel being rendered unproportionately difficult for neurologically and physically disabled people, the fact that the benefits uplift did not include people with disabilities and single parents of disabled children is an outrageous injustice.

During the pandemic, Direct Access created jobs for disabled people as a direct result of our growth in 2020, which saw us exporting our services to the U.S for the first time. As well as providing PPE to independent business owners and securing contracts with the NHS during the height of the crisis. We also focused our efforts on hiring disabled people during this time because we understand that expenditure for disabled people is higher than the average person.

Furthermore, although increases in living costs across the board were unfortunate realities of the pandemic, with electricity and gas prices increasing, the Government’s claim of “levelling up” has failed to offer support to people on legacy benefits who depend on them to survive. The fact that Coffey failed to do this at a time when statistics were demonstrating that 6 in 10 (59%) of COVID-19 related deaths were disabled people and her Government was explicitly instructing vulnerable people to shield is completely unacceptable.

Direct Access would like to express full support to the demonstrators and allies who stood outside the high court in London last Wednesday where the case is currently taking place. These included the disabled campaigners from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and Disability Rights UK, who have supported the case and campaigned for the uplift to be extended to those on legacy benefits. Members of over 100 other organisations have also been present throughout the proceedings to support the case.

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