Disabled men in High Court challenge to ‘seriously detrimental’ impact of benefits scheme

Two severely disabled men have begun a High Court challenge against the Government’s controversial Universal Credit benefits scheme, which they say has left them unable to meet many of their basic needs.

Their lawyer told a judge in London on Tuesday that a “significant” drop in monthly income was having “seriously detrimental impacts on their health and well-being”.

Both men live alone without a carer.

Their barrister, Zoe Leventhal, told Mr Justice Lewis that they “are no longer able to meet many of their basic needs”.

They had lost around £178 per month after having to move to the Universal Credit system – which replaced a range of means-tested welfare benefits with one single benefit.

The two men whose cases are at the centre of the judicial review action against the Work and Pensions Secretary cannot be named for legal reasons and are referred to as TP and AR.

TP is a 52-year-old terminally ill man who worked in the financial sector, while AR is aged 36 and suffers from severe mental health issues.

Law firm Leigh Day, which is representing them, said the outcome of the case could potentially affect “thousands of severely disabled people across the country”.

Tessa Gregory, a partner in the firm’s human rights team, said in a statement issued before the hearing: “Our clients are taking this action because we consider that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has unlawfully discriminated against our clients and many other severely disabled people living alone with no carer.

“Despite claims to the contrary from the government thousands of people are losing out as a result of moving to Universal Credit.

“The Department for Work and Pensions has axed payments specifically targeted at the severely disabled and refused to provide any top up payments to make up that loss.

“We believe that by taking away these essential benefits from some of the most vulnerable people in society, the government has acted unlawfully.”

She said AR is having to use a food bank and TP was “struggling to pay for transport to hospital to undergo gruelling sessions of chemotherapy”.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman said: “We are unable to comment on the specifics of this case while the review continues.

“We are committed to supporting people into work while making sure the right care is in place for those that can’t.”

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