The Supreme Court has refused the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions permission to appeal against the Court of Appeal's decision on the Department for Work & Pension’s policy refusing advance payments of Universal Credit to claimants waiting for National Insurance Numbers, upholding the existing judgement.  

The Court of Appeal found that the Department for Work & Pension's (DWP) blanket policy of not considering advance payments for claimants without a National Insurance Number (NINO) unlawful. Central England Law Centre’s client’s case was heard together with a client represented by Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).

The judgment directly challenges the DWP's interpretation of the legislation regarding advance payments. It highlights the necessity for a more inclusive approach that considers the immediate financial needs of claimants, regardless of their NINO status. This interpretation is pivotal for those whose immigration status has recently been regularised, as they often encounter delays in receiving a NINO, exacerbating their financial distress. 

The judgment has significant social and economic implications. It reduces the likelihood of destitution among new Universal Credit (UC) claimants and alleviates the burden on local authorities, who often shoulder emergency expenses for individuals awaiting benefit payments. By mandating the DWP to consider advance payments without a NINO, the judgment promotes a more responsive welfare system and is a significant victory for the Law Centre’s clients and for all UC claimants yet to be allocated a NINO. It compels the DWP to amend its policies and practices, ensuring a more equitable and efficient system for handling advance payment requests, thereby safeguarding the financial stability of some of the most vulnerable individuals in society. 

We do not yet know if guidance has been issued to DWP decision makers on this issue so it is important to make sure that those now eligible for advance payments of UC are aware of their right to make advance payments applications just like anyone else and advised to challenge any refusal or delay. 

The full judgment R (on the application of Ngoc Hong Thi Bui) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and R (on the application of Idowu Onakoya) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2023] EWCA Civ 566.

Please contact the Public Law team at the law centre for support with any cases relating to the ruling: [email protected]