Artwork by Julia Giles

Supreme Court hears benefit cap appeal

The Supreme Court will this week hear an appeal brought by several lone parent families, after the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court’s ruling that the benefit cap was not lawful when applied to lone parent families with children under two years old.

The judicial review challenge heard by the High Court last year, brought by four lone parent families with children under two years old, concerned the reduced benefit cap introduced by the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016. 

The revised benefit cap drastically reduced housing benefits, leaving lone parent families across the country unable to afford basic necessities, facing homelessness and a choice between rent and food.

Finding for the families, Mr Justice Collins had ruled that the application of the revised benefit cap to lone parents with children under two amounts to unlawful discrimination and that “real damage” is being caused to the Claimants and families like theirs across the country. Upon considering the impact of the benefit cap, Mr Justice Collins concluded that “real misery is being caused to no good purpose.”

In March 2018, by a majority of two to one, the Court of Appeal allowed the Government’s appeal, but in doing so did however find that the High Court was entitled to find that the revised cap was again in breach of the UK’s international obligations to children (when applied to families with children under the age of two).

In addition, recognising the real public importance of the issues raised, the Court of Appeal took the very unusual step of granting permission to appeal to the Supreme Court against its own judgment.

The families are represented by Rebekah Carrier of Hopkin Murray Beskine and the legal team includes Ian Wise QC (Monckton Chambers), Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC (Doughty Street Chambers), Stephen Broach (Monckton Chambers) and Michael Armitage (Monckton Chambers).

The appeal will be heard by a panel of seven justices of the Supreme Court between 17th to 19th July 2018, together with a separate challenge against the benefit cap brought by other lone parent families (represented by the Child Poverty Action Group).

More information is available on the Supreme Court website here.



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