A disabled student at York is challenging the government in the High Court over her access to Universal Credit.
22 year old student Sidra Kauser has severe sight impairment and mental health difficulties, for which she receives the Personal Independence Payment (PIP). This is supposed to pay for extra costs of living associated with her health conditions.
However, she is forced to use her PIP for everyday living costs as she had just £122 a month after using her student loan to pay for tuition fees and rent.
The law currently says that full time students are unable to receive Universal Credit due to an inability to work while studying. Kauser is making the case that this is unlawful.
A quirk in the law says that if Ms Kauser had applied for Universal Credit before starting her degree, she may have continued to receive her benefit.
Ms Kauser told the Halifax Courier “I want to be able to carry on with my studies, safe in the knowledge that I will be able to meet any extra costs I incur because of my disabilities.
“It seems totally illogical that if I had had a work capability assessment before I went to university and had been assessed as eligible for universal credit, then I wouldn’t be in this position and would be able to carry on with my studies without the stress of worrying about whether I will be able to cope financially.”
Her challenge is being supported by the charity Disability Rights UK. Ken Butler, their welfare rights advice and policy adviser believes that this policy could affect up to 30,000 students in the UK.
A spokesperson for the DWP told the Halifax Courier that they “are unable to comment on an ongoing legal case.
“Most full-time students in higher education do not qualify for Universal Credit because one of the conditions of entitlement is that a claimant must not be in education.
“Students, including disabled students and those with health conditions, access fees and living costs support for their higher education courses through various loans and grants funded through the student support system.
“It is important that Universal Credit does not duplicate this support, which is designed for their needs unlike the welfare system.”