Opinions and Legal Insights

Agencies succesfully working together for justice! A good news story for once…

Congratulations and thanks to my friend Allan Salisbury and colleagues at Compassion Acts UK, who manage a Southport Foodbank, for successfully pursuing judicial review proceedings against the DWP in relation to a shocking injustice in the Universal Credit rules.

They were assisting Sharon Pantellerisco who works hard as a care worker. She is paid every 4 weeks (13 times a year). For UC, the DWP assess earnings monthly (12 times a year). The effect of this was that it appeared on the face of it she was not working long enough hours for 11 months of the year but twice as long in the final month. The impact of this was that was losing £463 a month in UC just because of the basis on which she was paid.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-53472675

Compassion Acts UK liaised with the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) who agreed to take on her case.

On 20th July 2020, Mr Justice Garnham ruled that the process was irrational and therefore unlawful. The full judgment can be found here.  

The Queen on the application of Sharon Pantellerisco v DWP [2020] EWHC 1944 (Admin) – – https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/R-Pantellerisco-v-SSWP-Final-Approved.pdf

This judgment is now a few weeks old but is a great example of agencies working together to secure justice. A charity that feeds the hungry became aware of a clear injustice. They decided that it was too important to leave unchallenged. They then referred the case to CPAG who have many years’ experience fighting for those who experience poverty. The injustice was rectified.

This is what happens when agencies combine their skills and experience. This emphasises again the importance of places where ordinary people can find effective legal advice and support. As the availability of Legal Aid becomes continues to be a challenge, it is critical that their work is supported.

One example is the Access to Justice Foundation’s – Go Extra Mile Project (https://atjf.org.uk/legal-walks) and the Law Centres Network’s Law For All (https://www.lawcentres.org.uk/policy/news/news/law-for-all-our-new-50th-anniversary-campaign-and-report)

Compassion Acts UK is a small local charity but which has helped to achieve an important outcome for UC claimant. Nothing we do is too small. We can all do something for justice today!