Skip navigation

Access to cost of living payment

Law Centre NI is challenging a decision to deny our client, who is homeless, access to a Cost of Living payment designed to help people during the current crisis.

The Low Income Cost of Living Payment is a lifeline for people receiving means-tested benefits. Our client ‘Lisa’ would have been entitled to this Cost of Living Payment had she not been homeless and living in temporary accommodation. Because of this she was denied the payment that she desperately needs.

By bringing a Judicial Review to the High Court, we hope to ensure access to this vital payment not only for Lisa, but for others who may also have been treated unfairly.

‘Lisa’s’ story

Lisa is homeless and was denied access to the Low Income Cost of Living Payment on the basis that she had moved into temporary accommodation and therefore lost the benefit which entitled her to this Cost of Living payment.

Lisa had been in receipt of the housing element of Universal Credit to help her with her rent. This element of Universal Credit is not paid for people in temporary accommodation. Housing Benefit is paid instead. Since Lisa’s entitlement to Universal Credit ended when she moved into temporary accommodation, she was no longer entitled to the Low Income Cost of Living Payment.

Low income benefit recipients like Lisa, who live in temporary accommodation, are treated differently from those who are in settled accommodation. We argue that this is unfair and unlawful.

Law Centre NI’s Legal Officer, Clare Rothwell-Hemsted:

“The Low Income Cost of Living Payment is meant to help the most vulnerable people. It is irrational to deny access to this payment to someone on a low income, who would otherwise be eligible for it, just because they have been placed in temporary accommodation after becoming homeless. We are taking this legal action to defend our client’s human rights and to protect her from discrimination based on her property status.” 

Director of Law Centre NI, Ursula O’Hare:

“Every day we provide legal advice to people who are affected by the cost of living crisis and we hear first-hand just how much people are really struggling. We are bringing this Judicial Review with the assistance of our partners in the PILS Project and hope we can ensure that Lisa – and others who may find themselves in a similar situation – have fair and equal access to the social security support that they desperately need at such a challenging time.”    

Law Centre NI is grateful to the Public Interest Litigation Support (PILS) Project for the financial assistance they have provided to enable us to take this important legal challenge for the benefit of our client and the wider public.

Maria McCloskey, PILS Director:

“PILS are very pleased to support Law Centre NI with the finance they need to lodge Lisa’s case in the High Court. We hope that this public interest legal challenge will result in Lisa – and all the other vulnerable people who find themselves in a similar situation – being treated fairly and equally to those who are in receipt of the housing element of Universal Credit.”