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Single mother wins benefit cap challenge

Government suffers huge blow after mums' victory in legal battle

11 July, 2017 — By Koos Couvée

Rebekah Carrier, solicitor for the families who launched the legal fight

A SINGLE mother from Islington is one of four parents who have dealt a huge blow to the government after bringing a successful legal challenge against the benefit cap.

A High Court judge ruled last month that the cap, which limits the total amount of benefits a family can receive in London to £23,000, is unlawful and illegally discriminates against single parents with young children.

The challenge was brought by four single mothers with children under the age of two.

Two of the families had become homeless because of domestic violence.

As a result of their caring responsibilities and the cost of childcare, they were unable to work the required 16 hours to escape the cap. Their benefits were cut, leaving each claimant with a choice between rent and food and other essential items and unable to provide basic necessities for their children.

The mother, who lives off Caledonian Road but did not wish to be named, said: “Once my youngest is old enough to go to nursery I will start to look for a job. But without childcare how am I supposed to start work? I can’t afford the advanced payment that day care centres and childminders require and I have no support from friends or family.

“As a single mother with a young child it is very difficult finding affordable childcare and a flexible job. I don’t have the benefit of a wider support network to help me.”

In his judgment, Mr Justice Collins agreed, ruling the cap illegal and saying: “Most lone parents with children under two are not the sort of households the cap was intended to cover… Real misery is being caused to no good purpose.”

The cap in London was lowered from £26,000 to £23,000 in November last year. The government has indicated it will appeal the ruling.

The families are being represented by Rebekah Carrier, of Finsbury Park-based law firm Hopkin Murray Beskine.

She said: “My clients were delighted by the finding, which means it is not lawful for the government to apply the cap to them and to others in their situations.

“They are very disappointed that the government says it will appeal. This will only prolong uncertainty and the ‘real misery’ identified in the judgment.”

A petition calling on the government not to appeal the ruling can be signed here.

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