A disabled grandmother and her granddaughter who provides full time care for her have this week issued judicial review proceedings in the High Court against the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, challenging the inclusion of Carer’s Allowance in the ‘benefit cap.’ The benefit cap policy has been in force across the country since September 2013.
The government has already conceded that the cap had unintended consequences for victims of domestic violence living in women’s refuges, and after the families case was heard in the Court of Appeal, Ian Duncan Smith with no fanfare amended the regulations to remove women’s refuges from the cap.
The proceedings issued this week highlight another consequence of the cap, which may surprise those who consider that the cap achieves fairness. Included in the group of families who are capped are those who receive Carer’s Allowance. To qualify for Carer’s Allowance the benefit claimant has to be providing upwards of 35 hours a week care to a severely disabled person. This means that anyone receiving Carer’s Allowance is by definition not available to work, because they must be providing care.
3. The judicial review challenges Part 8A of the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006, which was inserted by the Benefit Cap (Housing Benefit) Regulations 2012, SI 2012/2994, pursuant to section 96 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012. The claimants argue that the Regulations are discriminatory and unreasonable. They also argue that the Secretary of State did not take proper account of the impact of the policy on carers and those they care for, and is irrational.