Following a judicial review claim lodged by PLP, the Department of Work and Pensions has agreed to waive debt accrued by PLP’s client, a Universal Credit claimant who was forced to claim hardship payments to cover essential needs after she was unfairly sanctioned for over a year and a half. 

Read PLP’s note advisers, 3 June 2021

The department has also revised its Benefit Overpayment Recovery Guide so it is now clear that it has discretion to waive Recoverable Hardship Payments (‘RHPs’) regardless of whether the claimant meets the requisite earnings threshold.

These changes are the culmination of a judicial review challenge brought on behalf of our client who is a vulnerable care-leaver with physical and mental health problems and experience of domestic abuse. She had been unfairly sanctioned six times and lived on reduced benefits for over a year and a half.

Although PLP successfully appealed all six sanction decisions on behalf of our client, she was left in debt which included RHPs (effectively loans) that were taken on to cover her basic needs during the period of sanctioning.

Following a judicial review claim lodged by PLP, the DWP conceded that it does have discretion over whether to recover hardship payments, but initially refused to waive our client’s debt. In response to a further threat of judicial review, our client’s hardship payment debt has now been waived.

Read our note on changes to DWP Guidance on Recoverable Hardship Payments by PLP lawyer Emma Vincent Miller

Most recently our client was represented by PLP’s Emma Vincent Miller. Matthew Ahluwalia and Sarah Clarke were the PLP lawyers working on her case previously and Zoe Leventhal (Matrix Chambers) was her barrister.