Judgment in Universal Credit minimum income floor challenge


Re: R (Charmain Parkin) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWHC 2356 (Admin)

The High Court dismissed a challenge to the Regulations providing for a deemed income – the minimum income floor – to be used to assess gainfully self-employed universal credit claimants’ income instead of their actual income. This has the effect of reducing many low-earning self-employed claimants’ entitlement to Universal Credit. Ms Parkin’s evidence was that she had been forced to rely on charity and food banks as a result.

The claim was brought on the basis that the relevant Regulations were unlawfully discriminatory, were irrational and had not been passed in accordance with the Secretary of State’s public sector equality duty under the Equality Act 2010, s 149. The Court concluded that although employment and self-employment were each a ‘status’ within the meaning of ECHR, art 4 the two groups were not in an analogous position and that, in any event, the measure was not manifestly without reasonable foundation. As such, although employed and self-employed Universal Credit claimants were treated differently, this was not unlawful discrimination contrary to art 14. The Court also held that the relevant Regulations were not irrational and that due regard had been paid to the matters set out in Equality Act 2010, s 149.

Karon Monaghan QC and Paul Skinner were involved in this case.