Benefits cap ‘causes real misery’, rules High Court

Written by Tom Freeman on 22 June 2017 in News

High Court rules application of the revised benefit cap to lone parents with children under two amounts to unlawful discrimination "with no real purpose"

Single parent family - 'drinks machine' images

The UK Government’s cap on benefits is “capable of real damage to individuals”, according to a judge in the High Court.

Mr Justice Collins ruled in favour of a group of single parents of children under two years old who argued they should be exempt from the cap on total benefits to £20,000 a year or £23,000 in London.

The application of the cap to these people amounted to unlawful discrimination, he ruled.


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The cap includes housing costs, meaning the majority can go to private landlords.

Currently parents must work 16 hours or more to avoid the cap.

The judge said he was "satisfied that the claims must succeed" against the UK Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke.

“Whether or not the defendant accepts my judgment, the evidence shows that the cap is capable of real damage to individuals such as the claimants,” he said.

“They are not workshy but find it, because of the care difficulties, impossible to comply with the work requirement.

“Most lone parents with children under two are not the sort of households the cap was intended to cover and, since they will depend on DHP (Discretionary Housing Payments), they will remain benefit households.

“Real misery is being caused to no good purpose.”

The Department for Work and Pensions said it intended to appeal against the landmark ruling.

“The benefit cap incentivises work, even if it's part-time, as anyone eligible for working tax credits or the equivalent under Universal Credit, is exempt,” said a DWP spokesman.

“Even with the cap, lone parents can still receive benefits up to the equivalent salary of £25,000, or £29,000 in London and we have made Discretionary Housing Payments available to people who need extra help.”

The benefit cap was revised in November and has a significant impact on single parents.

SNP MSP Sandra White said: “This is an absolutely damning result that highlights the real human impact of the Tories’ austerity agenda.

“Theresa May and her government should be ashamed. Their obsession with making low-income families bear the burden of austerity is having a real human cost – and for no good reason."

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