The benefit cap and lone parents with children aged under two

On 22 June 2017, the High Court declared that the benefit cap is unlawful in the way that it applies to lone parents with children aged under two. 

Four families had taken legal action against the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), on the basis that they did not qualify for free childcare and were unable to work the 16 hours needed to exempt them from the benefit cap.

On 15 March 2018, the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the DWP's appeal by a two-to-one majority. The Court of Appeal gave permission for the families to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court heard the appeal in July 2018. The court has not reached its decision yet.

What this means

For now, there is no change in the law.

If you are a lone parent facing the benefit cap and your youngest child is aged under two, the benefit cap still applies to you. If the Supreme Court allows the families' appeal and they win their case, the government will have to change the law. In the meantime, you can apply for a discretionary housing payment. You can also talk to our Welfare Reform Team about your options for dealing with the benefit cap.

Where to get more information

The DWP has produced guidance for councils which includes a Q&A section. You can download a PDF of this from the GOV.UK website.