No distinction between children and adults when deciding to apply the benefit cap


Re: R (MA & Ors) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2016] UKSC 58

The claimants live in social housing where the number of bedrooms exceeds the number to which they are entitled to under reg B13 of the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006, SI 2006/2013. Their housing benefit has been capped accordingly. They challenged the validity of reg B13 as it applies to their individual circumstances on the basis that it violates their right to non-discrimination under ECHR, art 14 in conjunction with their right to family life under ECHR, art 8 and/or property under art 1 of the First Protocol. They also contend there has been a breach of the Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010. Held: There appears to be no reason to distinguish between adult partners who cannot share a bedroom because of disability and children who cannot do so because of disability, or between adults and children in need of an overnight carer; the decisions were “manifestly without reasonable foundation” (the test in cases involving questions of economic and social policy). However because the respondent Secretary of State did consider the potential impact of the housing benefit cap scheme on individuals with disabilities he fulfilled the Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010.

Karon Monaghan QC, Aileen McColgan, Helen Mountfield QC, and Raj Desai were involved in this case.