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Social Security Case Law

Summaries of recent cases on social security law and practice.

The Court of Appeal in England and Wales rules that DWP’s decision not to uprate legacy benefits by £20 a week in line with UC was lawful.

T and Others v SOS for Work and Pensions (2023) EWCA Civ 24


From March 2020 through until October 2021 the DWP increased the standard allowance of Universal Credit (UC) by £20 a week. This was in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and was designed to provide additional support for those losing their jobs or facing a reduced income. No equivalent increase was made to the personal allowance of legacy benefits ie ESA, JSA, and IS.Four claimants with mental and physical disabilities challenged the disparity arguing that once the initial exceptional circumstances ceased to apply the difference in treatment between claimants on UC and those on legacy benefits could not be justified.The applicants argued there was unlawful discrimination under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), based on Article 14 (freedom from discrimination) read with Article 8 (right to private and family life) and Article 1 of Protocol 1 (right to property).The High Court dismissed the claim and the applicants appealed to the Court of Appeal.


The Court of Appeal dismissed the applicant’s appeal. The Court observed that the High Court accepted DWP’s evidence that the £20 a week uplift to UC personal allowances was to support those losing jobs when the numbers were so high due to the pandemic, to do it in a practical way and have a clear message for civil society. The continuation of the uplift was to meet the unpredictable and developing circumstances. The DWP decided not to apply an equivalent uplift to legacy benefits as this would not meet the government’s primary objectives.The Court observed that the High Court recognised the decision taken involved complex social and political judgements and difficult socio-economic choices. The measures were temporary to meet a natural emergency. There was a difference in treatment, though it was proportionate in its impact on disabled legacy benefits claimants taking into account the legitimate aims the DWP were seeking to achieve. As a result, there was no error of law in the High Court’s decision.
For a full copy of the judgement, click here.