Northern Ireland news

Man on benefits wins High Court permission to challenge Stormont department over denial of Covid-19 cash boost

A Covid benefits case could have a significant financial impact on thousands of people

A Co Armagh man on benefits has won High Court permission to challenge a Stormont department over the denial of a Covid-19 cash boost.

The man was granted leave to seek a judicial review of the justification for being treated differently to Universal Credit claimants who receive an extra £20 per week.

The case could have a significant financial impact for thousands of people, his lawyers predicted.

Universal Credit payments were increased last year to help struggling families.

Initially due to end on March 31 this year, Chancellor Rishi Sunak extended the uplift for six months.

However, the man taking action is in receipt of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) - a so-called legacy benefit.

Those receiving ESA are prevented from getting the Covid boost, the court was told.

Proceedings have been brought against the Department for Communities to challenge the legality of the arrangements.

The man taking the case is not being named due to requests for anonymity.

His legal team contend that those on ESA and other legacy benefits such as tax credit should also be entitled to the extra money.

A judge listed the case for full hearing in November.

Outside court, the man's legal representative, Chris Doran of KRW Law, said: "Persons in receipt of legacy benefits such as income-related ESA are in the same position to those in receipt of Universal Credit, and therefore any difference in treatment requires justification by the Department for Communities.

"In the interest of fairness, parity and equality, and to avoid discrimination, KRW Law want to see the same uplift afforded to them."

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