In R (Charmaine Parkin) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  EWHC 2356 (Admin), the High Court has 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 14, 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 Article 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 s 149 of the 2010 Act.