High Court rules that Benefit Cap discriminates against disabled people

Today the High Court has ruled that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith MP, has unlawfully discriminated against disabled people by failing to exempt their unpaid full-time carers from the benefit cap.  Mr Justice Collins allowed a claim for judicial review brought by two affected families.  In each family, an adult relative is providing full time, essential care to their elderly and disabled grandmother.  They are able to perform their caring roles only with the support of state benefits, covering their housing and living expenses, and both receive Carer's Allowance.  


The families successfully argued that the benefit cap is unfair and unlawful because of its impact on disabled people and their carers.  To qualify for Carer’s Allowance, carers must be providing full time care - upwards of 35 hours a week – to a severely disabled person who receives Disability Living Allowance (DLA).  The Secretary of State has provided an exemption from the cap to those who receive DLA – but not necessarily to their carers.  Two categories of carer are exempt: carers for children or spouses.  Any carer who provides care to another adult, such as a parent or grandparent, or a disabled child aged 18 or over, is caught by the cap, leaving them without enough money for essential living costs and, in the case of one of the Claimants in this case, resulting in homelessness.


Mr Justice Collins has found that the failure to exempt from the benefit cap full-time unpaid carers in receipt of Carer’s Allowance constitutes unlawful discrimination, in breach of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.


Doughty Street barristers Caoilfhionn Gallagher and Sam Jacobs acted for the successful claimants in this case, instructed by solicitor Rebekah Carrier, Hopkin Murray Beskine Solicitors .


Further information is available in the Claimants’ press release, available here and the judgment is available here.

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