Benefit cap court judgment means “more misery” for single parents with babies and toddlers

Posted 15 March 2018

Today, the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the government concluding that the benefit cap is not discriminating against single parents with children aged under two.[1]

Laura Dewar, Policy Officer at Gingerbread, comments:

“Gingerbread is bitterly disappointed with today’s Appeal Court judgment which will heap more misery on single parents with babies and toddlers, who make up a third of all the single parents affected by the benefit cap.[2] [3]

“Parents can in theory escape the cap by moving into work. But single parents with children aged under two find it incredibly hard to do so because of the practical challenges of bringing up a young child on their own combined with expensive childcare and a lack of flexible work. Today’s judgment means that the benefit cap will continue to drive single parent families with very young children into poverty rather than employment.

“In June, the High Court case showed that the benefit cap left single parent households with very young children going without basic necessities. Mr Justice Collins concluded that the policy was causing real misery ‘for no good purpose’.[4] Gingerbread is staggered that the Court of Appeal has reached a different conclusion. The case will now move to the Supreme Court where we hope that good sense prevails and the misery finally ends for single parents and their young children.”


[1] [2018] EWCA Civ 504.

[2] 72 per cent of the households capped at November 2017 were single parent families.

[3] Since April 2013, 31,070 single parents with children under two have been affected by the benefit cap. At November 2017, 15,250 single parent families with children under two were still capped. DWP (2017) Benefit cap: number of households capped to November 2017.

[4] [2017] EWHC 1446 (Admin). Gingerbread provided a written witness statement to the Judicial Review.

Recent examples of calls made to the Gingerbread helpline in relation to the benefit cap

  1. A single parent who has a baby of nine months and lives in London. She faces a reduction in Housing Benefit of nearly £20 due to the benefit cap. She feels she has no choice but to work even though she is bringing up a baby on her own. She has been actively looking for work but the only job that has been offered would not provide sufficient hours to escape the benefit cap.
  2. A single parent who has a three year old child and is pregnant. She lives in London. She has been told she will be affected by the benefit cap when her baby is born. She lives in a private rented flat and faces a shortfall in her rent of just over £30 a week.
  3. A single parent with four children living outside London. The youngest child is aged one. The family is affected by the benefit cap and faces a shortfall of just over £90 a week in their rent. They have applied but been refused Discretionary Housing Payments.

Single parents concerned about the benefit cap can call the free Gingerbread helpline (0808 802 0925) or access our online information.

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