Charity unlikely to appeal benefit case
A charity has said it is unlikely to lodge an appeal against a High Court judgement that government cuts to housing benefit are lawful.
The Child Poverty Action Group learned last Thursday that it had lost the landmark case, having failed to convince the judge that restrictions to local housing allowance are illegal and that the government had failed to assess adequately whether caps would disproportionately hit minority families.
A spokesperson for CPAG said: ‘We have been reviewing the court’s decision and taking advice from our counsel and at this stage it is looking unlikely that we will appeal.’
The spokesperson said that the decision not to appeal was a result of concerns about the chance of success and cost.
CPAG had challenged the legality of the national cap on LHA payments, which are made to private rented sector tenants, and a restriction preventing payments exceeding the cost of a four bedroom home.
CPAG argued that setting national caps of between £250 and £400 a week depending on property size, which came into force in April, went beyond the powers of the secretary of state as LHA was designed to be a national scheme to prevent homelessness.
But Mr Justice Michael Supperstone disagreed. In a ruling published last Thursday, he said: ‘In my view, this is not correct. The purpose of the scheme is to assist claimants with rent, while also protecting the public purse.’
The judge also dismissed CPAG’s claim that the Department for Work and Pensions failed to have due regard to equality duties when assessing whether ethnic minorities and lone parents will be affected by the cuts.
The CPAG spokesperson also criticised Iain Duncan Smith, the secretary of state for work and pensions, who last week branded the charity ‘irresponsible’ for launching its legal challenge.
Mr Duncan Smith referred to CPAG’s challenge as an ‘ill-judged PR stunt’ which had amounted to a waste of taxpayers’ money and court time.
The spokesperson said: ‘These were surprising words from the secretary of state. The decision to allow us to go to the High Court was made by the Administrative Court, it’s a matter for the judiciary.’
Inside Housing has been calling for more equitable reform as part of its What’s the Benefit? campaign.