THE TORY government suffered a defeat in the courts this week when the court of appeal dismissed a challenge by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) against two previous High Court decisions that thousands of severely disabled people had been unlawfully discriminated against after being moved onto Universal Credit.
The case had been brought by two disabled people who suffered a massive drop in their benefit supplements after moving into one of the regions in the country where Universal Credit has been imposed.
The initial case was brought before the courts in June 2018 where it was ruled that the cut was unlawful as the two had been treated differently from those who remained outside the Universal Credit roll-out but had the same needs for support.
The disabled are not the only victims of the Tory onslaught on benefits who are forced to turn to the courts.
Also this week a single mother, who was forced to cut the hours she worked and resort to taking out loans from payday lenders because of the way childcare benefits are provided under Universal Credit, launched a legal challenge against the Tories.
Again this case revolves around discrimination against single parents, who are predominantly women. Under Universal Credit payments to help with childcare (up to £1,000) have to be made upfront by the claimant and can only be recovered from the DWP.
Full-time work becomes impossible for thousands of single parents forcing them into debt or, to reduce their working hours to fit in with childcare.
Carolin Ott from the law firm Leigh Day which is representing the claimant said: ‘Once again we see that Universal Credit seems to be working against its stated aims and is failing to “make work pay”. The government has refused to reconsider this policy despite clear evidence that it is a barrier to parents entering and progressing within the work place. Single parent families and therefore women are disproportionately affected and our client’s case is that the policy is both irrational and discriminatory.’
Becca Lyon, Head of UK Child Poverty at Save the Children, said: ‘Mums tell us that this has left them constantly in arrears – they’ve had to take out loans to pay nursery bills, turn down job opportunities or even resort to food banks to feed their children.’
The disabled and single parents are not alone. It was revealed in November that over a million households on Universal Credit – now 60% of everyone receiving benefits – are having their benefits cut to repay debts and loans.
Nearly a third of all those on the scheme are having over a fifth of their payments cut to repay loans that they have received to tide them over for the five weeks or more they have to wait for the first payment to arrive.
Charlotte Hughes, a campaigner who provides support and advice to benefit recipients, said: ‘Everyone is being hit by deductions in one way, shape or form. I don’t know anybody that actually receives the full amount of money that they’re supposed to get.’
Trade unions like the PCS have long denounced Universal Credit and demanded it be scrapped while the Labour Party have called for it to be replaced.
This ignores the fact that Universal Credit was brought in by the Tories as an integral part of their austerity drive to make the working class pay for the capitalist banking crisis. It can’t be fixed it must be abolished.
The only way to abolish Universal Credit is to abolish the Tory government and replace it with a workers government that will expropriate the capitalist class and place the banks and industry under the management of the working class as part of a planned socialist economy.