A Southport councillor has welcomed today’s High Court ruled that the Conservatives’ benefit cap is unlawful and illegally discriminates against some parents with young children. Ministers are now likely to be forced to change or scrap the policy.
High Court judge Mr Justice Collins has declared that the benefit cap was causing “real damage” to lone parent families, and “real misery is being caused to no good purpose”.
“Those in need of welfare benefits fall within the poorest families with children”, he said.
“Some 3.7 million children live in poverty and, as must be obvious, the cap cannot but exacerbate this. There is powerful evidence that very young children are particularly sensitive to environmental influences. Poverty can have a very damaging effect on children under the age of five.”
The judge said that the cap was capable of real damage to people who “are not workshy but find it, because of the care difficulties, impossible to comply with the work requirement. Real misery is being caused to no good purpose.”
The Court ruling was made in response to a judicial review brought by four lone parent families who said the cap would have a severe and disproportionate impact on them.
Southport Lib Dem Councillor Tony Dawson says:
“This court ruling has highlighted one of the serious errors that Liberal Democrats made in rushing into Coalition with the Conservatives in 2010. The Tories were allowed to dictate too much the terms of what happened. Other mistakes were the so-called ‘reforms’ of the NHS which have been an utter disgrace and Nick Clegg’s broken promise over tuition fees.”
“Thousands of children have been forced into poverty as a result of Iain Duncan Smith’s meddling, which has had severe long term effects on health and well-being. Greater care needed to be taken before bringing in measures which destroyed some people’s lives.”
“This decision relieves lone parent families around the country from the unfair impacts of austerity measures which prevented them from being able to provide even basic necessities for their children.”
This is the second time the courts have determined the Conservatives’ benefit cap to be illegal. In 2015, the High Court deemed the benefit cap unlawful on the grounds that it discriminated against disabled people by not exempting their carers from the cap. As a result, ministers were forced to amend the policy to include an exemption for anyone in receipt of Carer’s Allowance.