Last updated: June 5, 2019
R (Woods, Barrett and Stewart) v SSWP CO/1552/2018
On 29 March 2018, CPAG filed a claim for permission to apply for judicial review to challenge the rigidity of the assessment period regime in universal credit which results in some people being treated as receiving two monthly wages in one assessment period, in turn affecting the amount of their UC award.
Update June 2019: The Secretary of State is currently seeking permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal against the High Court decision in this case. No stay of the High Court judgment has been sought and so the Johnson ruling should be applied in cases involving similar facts: where two separate monthly wages have been treated as earnings in the same assessment period, due to a regular payment date falling on a non-banking day and so being paid early. Despite this, we have received reports from several welfare rights advisers that the DWP is not applying the judgment in Johnson and continuing to treat wages from separate months as being earnings for the same assessment period. In these cases, we would encourage advisers to request a mandatory reconsideration, to protect claimants from losing out on work allowances. A template letter to request a MR is available here. Until such time as DWP update their guidance please also use the judicial review pre-action letter, available here
Where a client’s pay situation is similar to but not on all fours with that of the claimants in Johnson eg paid fortnightly or paid four weekly rather than monthly, a mandatory reconsideration should still be sought on the basis that the reasoning in Johnson equally applies to such situations to the extent that: ‘There may however need to be an adjustment where it is clear that the amounts received in an assessment period do not, in fact, reflect, the amounts of earned income in respect of the period of time included within that assessment period (Johnson §52).