The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has finally agreed to pay compensation to two disabled men who saw their benefits drastically reduced when they were forced onto the new universal credit.
The high court had ruled in June that DWP unlawfully discriminated against the two men, known as TP and AR for legal reasons, under the European Convention on Human Rights.
But DWP forced their lawyers to another court hearing to prove the losses they experienced.
An agreement announced this week meant the full hearing did not need to take place, with each of the men now set to receive thousands of pounds in compensation.
But DWP is still appealing the finding of discrimination.
TP had been forced to move to an area where universal credit had been rolled out so he could access specialist healthcare, following a diagnosis of end stage non-Hodgkin Lymphoma cancer.
AR had also had to move to a universal credit “full service” area, in his case because the imposition of the bedroom tax meant his previous home was unaffordable.
Before moving, both men had received the severe disability premium (SDP) and enhanced disability premium (EDP) on top of employment and support allowance.
SDP and EDP are aimed at meeting the additional care needs of disabled people with high support needs who live alone with no carer, but these premiums are being scrapped under universal credit.
When they moved home, both men were advised by DWP staff that their benefits would not change, but each of them saw their income drop by about £178 a month when they were moved onto universal credit.
They were told government policy was that no top-up “transitional protection” payments would be paid for disabled people in their position until July 2019, when the so-called “managed migration” of those on “legacy benefits” like ESA onto universal credit begins.
Transitional protection should mean that those with existing premiums who are moved over to universal credit, as long as it is part of managed migration, should not see their benefits reduced, as long as their circumstances remain the same.
TP said in a witness statement: “The constant money worries have made me more isolated and more depressed; both because of my social isolation and because of the anxiety.
“The stem-cell transplant and chemotherapy was very gruelling and the anxiety around my finances and universal credit has made it all a lot worse.”
AR said: “Since moving from Middlesbrough to Hartlepool, with the consequent reduction in my benefits, my quality of life and my happiness has markedly reduced.