Tuesday, July 21, 2020

DWP - "irrational, unjust and unlawful.”

A working single parent who was benefit-capped and left up to £463 a month worse off because of the “irrational” way universal credit calculated her monthly earnings has won a high court victory against the Department for Work and Pensions.

Justice Garnham said the system treated Sharon Pantellerisco, a 41-year-old care worker from Southport, as if she were not working, and punished her by arbitrarily reducing her overall universal credit award through the benefit cap.

In effect, Pantellerisco had been penalised financially because her four-weekly pay cycle did not fit in with the design of universal credit. No “reasonable” secretary of state for work and pensions would have allowed the system to operate as it did in this case, the judge said.

Pantellerisco, who has four children, worked 16 hours a week, receiving the “national living wage”, but was paid on a four-weekly basis, an arrangement that clashed with universal credit rules that calculate earnings over a calendar month. This meant her income for most universal credit assessment periods was deemed to be too low, subjecting her to the benefit cap, which in turn resulted in her benefit income being docked by up to 20% a month. This left her stressed, depressed and struggling to feed and buy clothes for her children. 

Carla Clarke, a solicitor for Child Poverty Action Group, which brought the case, said: “A system that determines the amount of social security low-paid working claimants are entitled to on the arbitrary basis of whether they are paid monthly or four-weekly can only be irrational, unjust and unlawful.”


No comments: