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Judical review on two wages in one assessment period finds in favour of claimants.

 

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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CONCLUSION

68. On a proper interpretation of regulation 54 of the 2013 Regulations, read in context, the amount of the earned income of a claimant in respect of an assessment period is to be based on, but will not necessarily be the same as, the amount of earned income actually received in that assessment period.  There will need to be an adjustment where, as in the present case, the claimants actually received two months’ salary in one assessment period but the combined salaries do not, in fact , constitute earned income in respect of the period of time included in that assessment period.  The defendant, therefore, erred in treating the combined salary for those two months’ as earned income in respect of that assessment period for the purposes of calculating the amount of universal credit payable.

69. These claims for judicial review succeed on that basis

R (on the application of Johnson and others) -v- Secretary of State For Work and Pensions

     
shawn
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Leigh Day press release:

Lord Justice Singh and Mr Justice Lewis today ruled that the DWP has been wrongly interpreting the universal credit regulations.  They said in their judgment that treating claimants as having earned twice as much as they do if they happen to receive two pay cheques in one monthly assessment period,  and as having no earnings in the next assessment period is “odd in the extreme” and “.... could be said to lead to nonsensical situations”.

They added that the DWP’s incorrect interpretation of the regulations had caused “…severe cash flow problems for the claimants living as they do on low incomes with little or no savings”.

More: https://www.leighday.co.uk/News/2019/January-2019/High-Court-finds-DWP-unlawful-on-universal-credit.aspx

     
Gareth Morgan
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Huzzah!

But what will DWP do?  Amend regs to retain policy or go through, what would have to be, enormous system changes?

     
Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Gareth Morgan - 11 January 2019 10:43 AM

Huzzah!

But what will DWP do?  Amend regs to retain policy or go through, what would have to be, enormous system changes?

What will DWP do? I’d say any of or more of the following….

Ignore it?

Issue a press release saying “Universal Credit is on-time, on-course and helping people earn more from working….”

Stick the Secretary of State in front of the cameras to announce minor changes to system to cover up yet another embarassing defeat in the courts….

     
shawn
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CPAG press release:

This is a very welcome and common-sense judgment which clearly establishes that the DWP has been applying its universal credit regulations incorrectly. Working parents on low incomes should not lose out on the support that Parliament intended them to receive because the DWP has designed a rigid process that is out of step with both actual reality and the law.

Our clients have been doing everything they can to support themselves and their young children through work but the rigid assessment system in universal credit has caused them untold hardship, stress and misery with them being forced repeatedly to manage on half of their usual total monthly income despite their fixed outgoings remaining the same. They have each ultimately questioned why they are even working. That it should have required them to go to court to challenge the DWP’s position is a testament to their commitment to bring up their children in a working household but it is a situation they should never have been put in. Today’s result should mean that in future no one will lose out on their universal credit awards or face the hardship that my clients have faced simply because of when their payday happens to fall.

More: http://cpag.org.uk/content/high-court-finds-dwp-unlawful-universal-credit-assessments

     
Daphne
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Gareth Morgan - 11 January 2019 10:43 AM

Huzzah!

But what will DWP do?  Amend regs to retain policy or go through, what would have to be, enormous system changes?

Surely they’d be an outcry if they changed regs to retain policy when so clearly unfair and against working people. I guess it will have to be trawl number 8…. (or whatever number it is)

     
Gareth Morgan
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If the decision stands, because the DWP don’t appeal, appeal and lose or accept the decision and don’t table amendments, then the consequences are huge.

Logically it is inescapable that they would probably have to use only earnings received in respect of that assessment period;

  “(56) ... there may need to be an adjustment where it is clear that the actual amounts received in an assessment period do not, in fact, reflect the earned income payable in respect of that period.”

That assessment period will comprise of a variable number of days from month to month during the year, which may differ for people on identical pay cycles.  Pay in advance, or arrears, bonuses and holiday pay start looking complicated again.

The whole RTI system, which is fundamental to UC, doesn’t handle that kind of information. 

Can they run UC manually?  No.

     
Peter Turville
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Gareth Morgan - 11 January 2019 11:11 AM

Can they run UC manually?  No.

[only a bit tongue in cheek] But isn’t that what they are having to do to an extent anyway due to all the other ‘glitches’ with the IT / rules / procedures / lack of staff understanding / need for ‘work arounds’ etc? Given the apparent ever increasing workload on case managers etc as the numbers on UC increase won’t they end up having to recruit sufficient staff to run a manual system anyway? They are never going to achieve the staffing ‘cost savings’ promised by UC.

Amber, I still have a copy of Sweet & Maxwell’s Supplementary Benefit legislation and remember how to fill in an A14N. I could run a few training courses for you! Or you could still ditch UC?

     
Gareth Morgan
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Peter Turville - 11 January 2019 01:55 PM

Amber, I still have a copy of Sweet & Maxwell’s Supplementary Benefit legislation and remember how to fill in an A14N. I could run a few training courses for you! Or you could still ditch UC?

Time to blow the dust off our yellow and brown books?

     
Peter Turville
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Gareth Morgan - 11 January 2019 02:13 PM
Peter Turville - 11 January 2019 01:55 PM

Amber, I still have a copy of Sweet & Maxwell’s Supplementary Benefit legislation and remember how to fill in an A14N. I could run a few training courses for you! Or you could still ditch UC?

Time to blow the dust off our yellow and brown books?

Yes, and those rolls of coloured sticky tape to put on the claim jackets to indicate what type of case it is etc. There must be a long forgotten warehouse somewhere with a stock of Supp Ben forms etc. After all the DWP has only stopped using A6’s with the intro of UC.

16.50 - almost time for a beer!

     
stevenmcavoy
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oh what a tangled web they have weaved.

I was quite surprised, though I understood the argument, that they hadn’t interpreted the regs correctly.  I suppose they will now be kicking themselves they didn’t make it clear it was money received and when rather than “based on”...even if that led to discrimination…whats a wee bit of discrimination eh.

this really just throws up a huge amounts of questions on what the dwp will do going forward.

imagine a client paid two wages in an assessment period but one contains overtime for example.

how are we meant to do benefit checks here?

     
Sarah-B
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Great result for the four claimants and everyone else in this same situation of being paid monthly but two pays falling into one MAP.  I’m sure all of us have seen cases exactly like this.

But what are the wider implications for earnings as being referred to as ‘in respect of an assessment period’.

What about the case of someone who claims UC after finishing work and receives some late payment of earnings ‘in respect’ of an entirely earlier period.  What about the 4 weekly paid workers.

     
Keith S Adviser
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What will DWP do?  I’d say any of or more of the following….

Ignore it?

Issue a press release saying “Universal Credit is on-time, on-course and helping people earn more from working….”

Stick the Secretary of State in front of the cameras to announce minor changes to system to cover up yet another embarassing defeat in the courts….


They will approach this, as an Ostrich might a pile of sand !!!!