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29 April, 2021 Open access

Permission granted for judicial review challenging government decision not to apply £20 per week Covid-19 ‘uplift’ to ESA claimants

Claimants request that hearing to consider whether decision was discriminatory and unjustified be heard before the end of July 2021

Permission has been granted for a judicial review challenging the government's decision not to apply the same £20 per week increase to employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants that universal credit claimants have received since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

While the government announced a £20 per week increase to both universal credit and working tax credit at the start of the pandemic, this increase was not extended to those on ESA, income support or jobseeker's allowance despite representations from, among others, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and leading health and social care organisations

However, two ESA claimants have now challenged the difference in treatment by way of an application to the High Court for judicial review arguing that is it discriminatory and unjustified. With permission granted on 27 April 2021 for the case to be heard, the claimants have requested a hearing before the end of July 2021.

Solicitor for the claimants, William Ford from Osborne's Law commented - 

'We are pursuing this legal challenge based on the proposition that the pandemic means those dependent upon basic allowances are facing higher basic living costs, and yet despite their very similar circumstances, only some of them receive a Covid-specific uplift to help meet those costs. This unfairness calls for a properly evidenced justification, particularly as almost 2 million disabled people are disproportionately affected by this decision and the pandemic generally. Thus far the Government has failed to provide any objectively verifiable reason for the difference in treatment of people in essentially identical circumstances.'

For more information, see High Court to decide whether it was lawful of the Government not to give nearly 2 million people on disability benefits the same £1,040 a-year increase that it has given universal credit recipients from doughtystreet.co.uk