In a test case brought to the High Court by single mother Sharon Pantellerisco, supported by the campaigning charity Child Poverty Action Group, the court upheld a previous ruling that the DWP's approach to calculating earnings for claimants who are paid four-weekly is “irrational and unlawful”. Ms Pantellerisco was benefit capped because of the Government’s refusal to acknowledge that her income was four-weekly, rather than monthly when making her universal credit assessment; resulting in her benefit award being reduced by over £400 per month when compared to someone in identical circumstances who was paid monthly.
The decision means the DWP must now adjust the way the universal credit system assesses earnings to make sure that claimants who are paid four-weekly, are not at risk of having the benefit cap applied to them solely on the basis of their pay frequency and being left out of pocket as a result.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says:
“I congratulate Ms Pantellerisco and CPAG for their excellent work in winning this case.
“The vast majority of Usdaw members, like many other low-paid workers, are paid four-weekly, and the universal credit system has not been designed to suit their needs. Usdaw has long campaigned on this issue and this ruling will help to improve the lot for four-weekly-paid workers up and down the country.
“But it’s a sad state of affairs when you need a high court judgment for the Government to take action on this issue.
“The current system means you can be unfairly benefit capped if you are paid four-weekly rather than monthly. That is clearly a barrier into employment if the job offer is paid four-weekly, as most retail work is.
“The universal credit system needs to be scrapped and replaced with a proper social security system as soon as possible. But as an immediate measure the Government must make key changes to support people into employment. This includes calculating and paying benefits on a four-weekly cycle for some, as well as scrapping the five-week wait for payment, and increasing payment levels so that working families claiming universal credit can live in dignity and not in poverty.”
“The judgment is a welcome step in the right direction.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)
is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news
and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion