Supreme Court grants permission in gender discrimination Benefit Cap case

On Wednesday 2nd April the Supreme Court ordered that an appeal brought by two lone mothers and their children concerning whether the Regulations implementing the Government’s flagship ‘benefit cap’ policy unjustifiably discriminate against women should proceed.  The Supreme Court granted the families permission to appeal and ordered that the hearing be expedited, to be heard later this month, on 29 and 30 April 2014.

 

In February the Court of Appeal held that the Regulations are discriminatory against women, but that the discrimination is justified because it “reflects the political judgment of the Government”  and has been endorsed by Parliament.

 

Both families in this appeal have fled violent marriages with their children, and live in overcrowded privately rented accommodation as they have not been able to obtain council housing. Because of their flight from violence and high private sector rents which they cannot avoid, they find themselves caught by the £500 per week benefit cap. The cap threatens to leave them with so little disposable weekly income that they will have to choose between feeding their children and paying their rent. The government has recognised that the likely consequence of the cap is homelessness for thousands of families. 

 

Victims of domestic violence are more likely to be affected by the cap because of the high cost of refuge accommodation and their entitlement to double housing payments when they have to flee their family home because of a risk of violence.  The Appellants’ appeal was supported by Women’s Aid and there was substantial evidence before the Court about the impact of the cap on domestic violence victims.

 

The Appellants are represented by Ian Wise QC, Caoilfhionn Gallagher and Samuel Jacobs, instructed by Rebekah Carrier of Hopkin Murray Beskine Solicitors.  

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