A single working mother has won a High Court challenge against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) over “irrational” universal credit rules.
Sharon Pantellerisco, from Merseyside, had her benefits cut as her employer paid her salary on a four-week basis.
If she was paid monthly, a reduction of up to £463 in universal credit per month would not have applied.
The DWP said it was considering the judgment, claiming the ruling “affects a very small number of claimants”.
Mr Justice Garnhan said he will now “hear counsel on the terms of the appropriate relief”.
The court heard how Ms Pantellerisco, from Southport, is the sole carer of her three dependent children, who all live together along with her eldest child, now aged 19.
The 41-year-old is employed for 16 hours a week on the national living wage but, because she was paid on a four-week basis, this resulted in her falling short of the income threshold to avoid a benefit cap.
She said: “Given that I am working exactly the same number of hours and earning the same amount as somebody working 16 hours at national minimum wage who happens to be paid monthly, I do not understand why my family’s budget should be subject to the cap.”
Ms Pantellerisco initially approached her employer to ask if her salary could be paid monthly but, due to their payroll system, they were unable to accommodate that request.
With the support of two charities, Compassion Acts and Child Poverty Action Group, Ms Pantellerisco took her case to the High Court, who ruled in her favour.
The High Court said the DWP’s method when calculating earnings in this case had been “irrational and unlawful”.
Allan Salisbury, from Compassion Acts, said it was “a matter of basic fairness and justice”.
“She was unfairly treated simply because she was paid four-weekly. I’m sure this wasn’t how the policy was intended but it’s how it’s been applied,” he added.
In a similar case in January 2019, four working single mothers won a High Court challenge over the government’s universal credit scheme.
They argued a “fundamental problem” with the system meant their monthly payments varied “enormously”, leaving them out of pocket and struggling financially.