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Supreme Court rules against lone parents suffering under benefits cap

SUPREME COURT judges yesterday ruled against challenges to the government’s benefit cap affecting single parents with young children.

All seven judges sitting in London agreed that the cap has had a “major impact on lone parents with children under school age” as it is “particularly difficult” for them to work.

But five of them rejected the five parents’ appeals against Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd.

The Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 provides that where families receive state benefits of a specified character of more than £23,000 a year if living in London, or £20,000 a year elsewhere, the benefits should be capped at those levels.

A way of escaping the cap is for the adults to go out to work — a lone parent must do so for 16 hours a week.

But lawyers said the cap has “drastically” reduced housing benefits, leaving many families unable to afford necessities.

They argued single parents with young children should be exempted because of the difficulty for the parent to find work compatible with childcare responsibilities.

Supreme Court president Lady Hale, ruling in favour of the parents, declared that there was “unjustified discrimination” against lone parents of children under the age of five.

Shelter chief executive Polly Neate said: “The decision is deeply disappointing and is a blow to the many lone parents who are struggling to keep a roof over their children’s heads due to the benefit cap.”

She urged the government to “end this cruel and self-defeating policy.”

Child Poverty Action Group’s (CPAG) Carla Clarke said: “The UK’s highest court has upheld a law and a policy that is increasing poverty while failing to deliver on its principal aim of work incentivisation.”

The ruling came as a CPAG report revealed that child poverty is becoming the “new normal” in parts of the country.

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