An unemployed man from County Tyrone’s challenge to being denied a budgeting loan could result in UK-wide reforms to the benefits, it was claimed recently.
The lawyer for Raymond Archer made the prediction after he was granted leave to seek a judicial review over allegations of suffering discrimination in requests for help financially. The man claims to have been unfairly classed as ineligible for receiving contributions based, rather than income based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
The refusal to properly look over his Budgeting Loan applications in 2013 and 2014 was unlawful, Raymond’s legal team argued. It was stated by the team that he had contributed to society by paying National Insurance contributions and tax until an accident left him unable to work. Last December, Mr.Archer received a Crisis Loan of which he is still making the repayments as well as receiving £64.50 a week in benefits. He described himself as ‘desperate and in need of the money’.
Following an initial hearing, the court ruled that an arguable case has been established on some grounds of challenge and will be subject to a full judicial review later this year.
Outside court, Mr. Archer’s solicitor said the action could have widespread implications, saying:[quote] “The overriding objective of a budgeting loan is to provide financial assistance to those who are most in need within our society and in failing to include the applicant and others in his position as entitled applicants under the scheme we state that the State has breached our client’s human rights. This is a judgement which has the potential to reform the benefits system not only in Northern Ireland but also in England and Wales.” [/quote]
The lawyer emphasises the importance of the prohibition of discrimination under the European Convention of Human Rights as his client is being treated differently to other benefit claimants on income-based Employment and Support Allowance.