By Adenike Lucas
The Conservative government is said to have acted illegally in applying its flagship benefits cap to lone-parent families with children under the age of two.
A high court judge, Mr Justice Collins ruled that “real misery is being caused to no good purpose,” because of the cap.
The judgement was made following a judicial review brought by four lone parent families.
At the moment the cap stands at £23,000 for those in London and £20,000 a year outside London. Parents are required to work 16 hours a week to avoid the cap.
In his judgement, Mr Collins said that: “…the cap is capable of real damage to such as the claimants. They 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 DHP, they will remain benefit households. Real misery is being caused to no good purpose.
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions has said that it plans to appeal and there will be no changes to the cap while the process of appeal is going on.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the ruling “is a further demonstration of the failure of the Conservatives’ austerity agenda.”
He said that “Theresa May is failing our communities and failing the most vulnerable people in our country.”
The solicitor for the parents who brought the action, Rebekah Carrier, welcomed the Judges’ decision.
She said: “The benefit cap has had a catastrophic impact upon vulnerable lone parent families and children across the country.
“Single mothers like my clients have been forced into homelessness and reliance on food banks as a result of the benefit cap.”
She stated that: “Thousands of children have been forced into poverty, which has severe long term effects on the health and well-being. We are pleased that today’s decision will relieve my clients – and other lone parent families around the country – from the unfair impacts of austerity measures which have prevented them from being able to provide basic necessities for their children.”