Four working single mothers have won a High Court challenge over the Government’s controversial Universal Credit welfare scheme which they say has left them struggling financially because of the way their payments are calculated.
The judges explained that as each of the women received her salary on or around either the last working day or last banking day of the month, there were times when salaries payable in respect of two different months were paid during one monthly assessment period.
In a summary of their decision, they said the Secretary of State was “wrong to treat the combined salaries for two different months as the amount of earned income received in respect of a single monthly assessment period simply because both salaries happened to have been received within that assessment period because of the dates on which they were paid”.
The judges said the Secretary of State was wrong to allow each of the claimants to retain only one amount of £192 from the combined amount of the two months’ salaries.
High Court judgment: Johnson -v- Secretary of State For
Work and Pensions (Universal Credit judgment) https://t.co/1SH2VI79ft
— Judicial Office (@JudiciaryUK) January 11, 2019
Tessa Gregory, solicitor from law firm Leigh Day, who represented part-time dinner lady Danielle Johnson, from Keighley, West Yorkshire, said: “My client is a hard-working single mum doing her very best to support her family.
“She is precisely the kind of person Universal Credit was supposed to help yet the DWP designed a rigid income assessment system which left her £500 out of pocket over the year and spiralling into debt due to a fluctuating income.
“Quite rightly, the court has found that the Secretary of State has been acting unlawfully and ruled that a correct interpretation of the regulations would not lead to such absurd results.”
She said: “In light of the judgment, Amber Rudd must take immediate steps to ensure that no other claimants are adversely affected and she should also ensure all those who have suffered because of this unlawful conduct are swiftly and fairly compensated.”
Solicitor Carla Clarke, of the Child Poverty Action Group, which also brought the case on behalf of the lone mothers, said: “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.”
She added: “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.”
A DWP spokesman said: “We are carefully considering the court’s judgment.”