The high court has today ruled the government’s benefit cap is unlawful for single parents with children under the age of two.
The decision relates to the cap on benefits imposed by the government that obliges people to work at least 16 hours per week to avoid having their benefits capped at £20,000 a year, or £23,000 in Greater London.
The ruling found that the benefit cap unfairly reduced discretionary housing payments to the point where single parents were incapable of paying their bills. Mr Justice Collins ruled that it was unfair to impose a cap on single parents with children under the age of two as they were not eligible for childcare support and therefore unable to work the required 16 hours a week.
In the ruling Mr Justice Collins stated those affected “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 discretionary housing payments, they will remain benefit households.”
He added that the cap was causing “real misery” for single parents with young children.
In response to the ruling, a Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said:
“We are disappointed with the decision and we are appealing. Work is the best way to raise living standards, and many parents with young children are employed.
“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. 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.”
However despite the high court’s ruling, single parents with children under the age of two cannot expect to see the cap scrapped yet.
The DWP stated “nothing changes and the benefit cap remains as it is while the appeal process is ongoing”.