Who? William Ford, partner, Osbornes Law, London.
Why is he in the news? Represents two claimants in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance who have received permission from the High Court to challenge the Labor and Pensions Department’s decision not to increase their benefit under Universal Credit.
Reflections on the case: “Even before the pandemic, those receiving benefits for working age and tax credits had seen years of benefit freeze and felt the full weight of austerity. Shortly after the start of the pandemic, the government announced an increase of £ 20 per week to the standard Universal Credit allowance (which is intended to cover basic living costs). However, this has not been extended to so-called “inherited benefits”, most of which are disabled, sick or caregivers. In March 2021, the increase for those with Universal Credit has been extended for another six months, but again no increase has been provided for inherited benefits, which means that people with almost identical factual circumstances are being treated differently, creating an obvious injustice. I was instructed by two receiving customers of ESA who dispute this difference in treatment based on human rights. It is still early, but I am pleased that the Supreme Court has granted p allow this matter to proceed to a full hearing and the government will have to try to justify the difference in treatment. ‘
A DWP spokesman said: “It has always been the case for inherited benefit claimants who can make a claim for Universal Credit if they believe they will be better off.”
Dealing with the media: ‘This case involves issues relevant to 2.2 million people on legacy benefits, so, understandably, there has been interest. I just hope that this issue gets the attention it deserves, highlight the position of those on the benefits of the legacy and lead to a discussion about the low levels of welfare benefit payments in this country. ‘
Why become a lawyer? “I did a week-long work experience with a local legal aid company in Bristol during university vacations. I was surprised at the difference the law can make in people’s lives in a number of areas. ‘
High career: ‘I was instructed in a High Court case on the rights of EU national women who had left the labor market for reasons of maternity and how long they could retain their right to reside under EU law before they were expected to turn back. We won and the case overturned the existing DWP policy. ‘
Low career: ‘A housing case in the Court of Appeal concerning rental deposits, which followed a previous case that represented a setback for tenants’ rights in this area. My case made things worse and a legal article described the impact on rental deposit protection legislation as “Gutted? Now also designed and quartered ”! ‘