As per a new ruling by the UK Court of Appeal, the DWP benefit cap does not unlawfully discriminate against lone parents – with children under the age of two.
Three Court of Appeal judges comprising of Justice Sir Brian Leveson, Lord Justice McCombe and Sir Patrick Elias on Thursday ruled in favour of the Work and Pensions Secretary by a two-to-one majority.
Previously, High Court Judge Justice Collins has ruled in favour of four single parent families in their action against the Department for Work and Pensions over the benefit cap last year.
The judge ruled that the Government’s benefit cap is unlawful, stating: "The evidence shows that the cap is capable of real damage to individuals such as the claimants. They are not workshy but find it, because of the care difficulties, impossible to comply with the work requirement.”
He further added: “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".
However, at the Court of Appeal in October last year, the lawyers representing the Work and Pensions Secretary urged three judges to overturn Justice Collins’ decision.
Judges ruled in favour of the Work and Pensions Secretary on Thursday by a two-to-one majority.
Clive Sheldon QC, one of the lawyers representing Work and Pensions Secretary, told three Court of Appeal judges that Justice Collins was “wrong and erred in law in determining on the evidence before him that the benefit cap unlawfully discriminated” against the claimants who brought the action.
Clive Sheldon further made a submission that there was “no discriminatory impact and, in any event, any such impact would be justified”.
Sir Brian then announced the court's decision allowing the Government's appeal. But, he also said that the families do have permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Carla Clarke, one of the solicitors representing the benefit cap claimants, said the ruling is “extremely disappointing”, adding it’s absurd that a Government policy recognises that the single parents should not only be expected to work, but also imposes a cap on them and their children if they do not have a paid job.