Erosion of universal credit transitional protection when claimant moved on from specified accommodation breached human rights

In summary:

  • Client on ESA moves house to a different local authority forcing a natural migration to Universal Credit.
  • Client had an SDP included in her ESA award and was therefore awarded a ‘transitional SDP payment’ on transfer.
  • Due to rule changes in October 2020 clients ‘transitional SDP payment’ was converted to a ‘Transitional Element’ and thus became liable to erosion.
  • Client later had to move into supported accommodation. Housing Costs stop as they have to claim Housing Benefit.
  • Their ‘Transitional Element’ that element was subsequently reduced to nil when she accepted a permanent tenancy as  her mainstream housing costs of £369 exceeded the £285 ‘Transitional Element’ they were receiving.
  • The claimant lost their monthly £285 without gaining any additional UC income, given that the £369 was doing the job done by housing benefit when she was in supported accommodation, namely paying her rent.  


The Tribunal notes that unlike a move from one mainstream rented property to another, a move between supported, refuge and temporary accommodation and mainstream accommodation is “unlikely to be simply a matter of choice” and  ‘What cannot occur is the unfair stripping away of all transitional protection in one fell swoop when a claimant’s circumstances change such that they need to move between specified accommodation which is funded via Housing Benefit and non-specified accommodation which attracts the Housing Costs Element of Universal Credit’.

The Upper Tribunal has found that the law that governs this process deprives people in this situation of their possessions (in this case the amount of benefit to which they were entitled under the legacy benefit regime) without justification. The ruling may be subject to further legal challenge by the UK Government.

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