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The Court of Appeal has resolved a long-running issue of social security, at least for Universal Credit: where a benefit entitlement is by default prospective only (i.e. if you are found to be eligibility you will get it only from the date of claim) but provides circumstances where a degree of backdating from the date of claim is possible (for instance because of inability to claim earlier due to illness, disability etc) – as is the case with Universal Credit for up to a maximum of one month – is a Claimant required actively to claim such backdated period when making their application or is enough to make a claim for UC in general terms and then later (within time limits for seeking a revision of a decision made) claim the additional sum?

The Court of Appeal decided in clear terms that there was no jurisdictional requirement to make a claim for the backdated period, only to make a claim for UC in general terms, it being left to the decision-maker to work out entitlement according to the law. As such it was open to claimant to seek revision to a higher sum incorporating the backdated payment.

The Court of Appeal also criticised the design of the on-line application forms for Universal Credit which in fact make it impossible to ask for any backdating or to provide any information about potential eligibility for it, such that only those very well advised (to make a claim which they immediately seek to revise) will ever receive such backdated payments.

Tom de la Mare KC appeared for the Claimant, with Tom Royston from Garden Court North, instructed by the Child Poverty Action Group.

The judgment may be found here.

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