Briefing: Benefit Cap adjournment debate

By: Poppy Terry  Published: July 2017


On 22nd June, the High Court ruled that the revised benefit cap was unlawful, in so far as it applied to lone parents with children under the age of two. The cap of £20,000, or £23,000 in London, is imposed on the benefits received by those not working at least 16 hours a week (24 if a couple). The case was brought on behalf of four lone parents who claimed the new lowered cap discriminates against the most vulnerable in society, who frequently struggle to pay for child care or have zero-hours contracts and cannot control whether they reach the required number of weekly hours to be exempt from the cap. Lone parents with children under two do not qualify for free childcare and so find it very difficult, often impossible, to work the minimum 16 hours a week required to evade the cap and also find adequate, affordable childcare.

Summary

The High Court recently ruled that the revised benefit cap was unlawful, in so far as it applied to lone parents with children under the age of two. Shelter intervened in the case, presenting evidence about how families would struggle to avoid the cap by moving, and how in some areas the benefit cap means that families do not even have enough money to cover the rent of even the cheapest private rented home, let alone enough for food and essentials.

Shelter welcomed the recent ruling and continues to recommend that the Government review the benefit cap policy and exempt families that will struggle to move or find work, such as homeless families and single parents with very young children.

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