Single mums win High Court battle with Government over Universal Credit payments1839486

Single mothers win High Court battle with Government after ‘irregular’ Universal Credit payments forced them to turn down jobs and use food banks

  • Danielle Johnson, Claire Woods, Erin Barrett and Katie Stewart made court claim
  • Single mothers said they were paid wildly different amounts every four weeks
  • Problem is likely to affect ‘tens of thousands of people’ claiming Universal Credit

Four working single mothers have today won a High Court challenge over the Government’s controversial Universal Credit welfare scheme they claim forced them to turn down promotions and go to food banks.

Lawyers for Danielle Johnson, Claire Woods, Erin Barrett and Katie Stewart said the problem is likely to affect ‘tens of thousands of people’ claiming Universal Credit.

They complained that after being moved to the new benefits system – designed to make it simpler to claim – they were paid wildly different amounts every four weeks.

They were sometimes not paid any benefits one month but received double the next or payments were moved to fortnightly without proper warning.  

Two judges in London announced on Friday that the women – who say they are struggling financially because of the way the system operates – had succeeded in a judicial review action against the Work and Pensions Secretary.

The Government's High Court defeat came Amber Rudd promised changes to make Universal Credit more 'compassionate'

The Government’s High Court defeat came Amber Rudd promised changes to make Universal Credit more ‘compassionate’

The Government’s defeat came as the minister in charge, Amber Rudd, performed a U-turn on the two-child cap and promised to make it more ‘compassionate’. 

The women argued that a ‘fundamental problem’ with the scheme means their monthly payments vary ‘enormously’ and they end up out of pocket.

They challenged the method used by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) when calculating the amount payable under the Universal Credit Regulations 2013.

Lord Justice Singh and Mr Justice Lewis gave their ruling following a hearing in November when they were told the women are struggling to manage their household budgets and some have fallen into debt or had to rely on food banks.

It was introduced to replace means-tested benefits including income support and housing benefit.

They said the problem arises when claimants are paid by employers on a date which ‘clashes’ with their assessment period for Universal Credit.

For example, they pointed out that if a claimant is paid early because of a weekend or bank holiday, the system counts them as having been paid twice in one month and they receive a ‘vastly reduced’ Universal Credit payment.

The judges said they had concluded that the ‘Secretary of State had wrongly interpreted’ the relevant regulations.

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