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Blind student wins Universal Credit legal battle that could help ‘30,000 people’

Blind student wins Universal Credit legal battle that could help ‘30,000 people’

TENS of thousands of people could be entitled to make a fresh claim for Universal Credit after being denied, thanks to a new legal ruling.A blind stud

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TENS of thousands of people could be entitled to make a fresh claim for Universal Credit after being denied, thanks to a new legal ruling.

A blind student who was stopped her from getting Universal Credit has won her case against the government after a judge ruled it was unlawful.

Without a work capability assessment Sidra Kauser could not make her claim for Universal Credit.

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Without a work capability assessment Sidra Kauser could not make her claim for Universal Credit.Credit: Alamy

Sidra Kauser is visually impaired and was refused a work capability assessment which looks at whether someone is fit to work or not.

Without it, the 22-year-old student who is doing a masters at the University of York was unable to make a universal credit (UC) claim.

And an estimated 30,000 disabled students in the same situation could now ask the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to reconsider their decision to refuse assessments.

Miss Kauser applied for UC when she found her Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and student loan would not be enough to support her.

Under the Department for Work and Pension’s (DWP) rules, students who are disabled and claiming PIP can make a claim for UC but only if they have a limited capability for work.

A work capability assessment is one way to prove this limited capability for work – but students are not allowed to take this test creating a catch 22 situation

What to do if you have problems claiming Universal Credit

IF you’re experiencing trouble applying for your Universal Credit, or the payments just don’t cover costs, here are your options:

  • Apply for an advance – Claimants are able to get some cash within five days rather than waiting weeks for their first payment. But it’s a loan which means the repayments will be automatically deducted from your future Universal Credit payout.
  • Alternative Payment Arrangements – If you’re falling behind on rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an APA which will get your payment sent directly to your landlord. You might also be able to change your payments to get them more frequently, or you can split the payments if you’re part of a couple.
  • Budgeting Advance – You may be able to get help from the Government for emergency household costs of up to £348 if you’re single, £464 if you’re part of a couple or £812 if you have children. These are only in cases like your cooker breaking down or for help getting a job. You’ll have to repay the advance through your regular Universal Credit payments. You’ll still have to repay the loan, even if you stop claiming for Universal Credit.
  • Cut your Council Tax – You might be able to get a discount on your Council Tax or be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments if your existing ones aren’t enough to cover your rent.
  • Foodbanks – If you’re really hard up and struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local foodbank who will provide you with help for free. You can find your nearest one on the Trussell Trust website.

But miss Kauser applied for a judicial review of the rule and a judge agreed that she should not have been denied an assessment and will now be given one.

A judge said that the DWP had breached its own laws on Universal Credit and ordered the government department to cover her £12,000 legal bill.

Solicitor Lucy Cadd of law firm Leigh Day who represented miss Kauser said: “Sidra made a brave stand against the decision to refuse her a work capability assesment and it has proved successful.

“It has been estimated by the charity Disability Rights UK that the secretary of state’s unlawful policy, which has been in operation since 2013, could have adversely affected 30,000 disabled students.”

Miss Kauser said: “I am glad I decided to take a stand and pursue my claim for judicial review of the DWP decision to refuse me a work capability assessment. Hopefully other students will benefit from the court ruling.”

The Sun wants to Make Universal Credit Work

UNIVERSAL Credit replaces six benefits with a single monthly payment.

By the time the system is fully rolled out in 2023, nearly 7million will be on it.

But there are big problems with the flagship system – it takes five weeks to get the first payment and it could leave some families worse off by thousands of pounds a year.

And while working families can claim back up to 85% of their childcare costs, they must find the money to pay for childcare upfront – we’ve heard of families waiting up to six months for the money.

Working parents across the country told us they’ve been unable to take on more hours – or have even turned down better paid jobs or more hours because of the amount they get their benefits cut.

It’s time to Make Universal Credit work. We want the government to:

  1. Get paid faster: The government must slash the time Brits wait for their first Universal Credit payments from five to two weeks, helping stop millions from being pushed into debt.
  2. Keep more of what you earn: The work allowance should be increased and the taper rate should be slashed from from 63p to 50p, helping at least 4million families.
  3. Don’t get punished for having a family: Parents should get the 85% of the money they can claim for childcare upfront instead of being paid in arrears.

Together, these changes will help Make Universal Credit Work.

Join our Universal Credit Facebook group or email [email protected] to share your story.

Anyone who found themselves in the same position of being denied the assessment before 5 August could now ask for the DWP to look at their claim again.

The DWP made changes to the rules from 5 August that mean the ruling only applies to claims made before this date.

But Leigh Day believes the change, which still prevents disabled students from taking a work capability assessment, could also be challenged in the courts.

The DWP has been contacted for comment.

Tens of thousands of hard up Brits could see Universal Credit payments rise after a loophole fix comes into force.

One single mum is taking the government to court because childcare and Universal Credit don’t work.

Here’s how you can check if you can claim Universal Credit and other benefits so you know you’re not missing out.

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan explains how students can get home for Christmas and back to uni in January during coronavirus

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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