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Benefit cap criticised by judges

The Supreme Court has criticised the government’s benefit cap for depriving children of the “basic necessities of life” but has ruled out overturning the policy.

A judgment was made in the case of two single mothers who were victims of domestic violence.

Although the appeal by the two women to overturn the policy was dismissed by a majority of three to two, three of the judges were concerned it was in contravention of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child requirement for governments to prioritise the interests of children.

Lady Hale, one of the three judges with such concerns, said: “It cannot possibly be in the best interests of the children affected by the cap to deprive them of the means to provide them with adequate food, clothing, warmth and housing, the basic necessities of life.” 

Another with concerns about the cap’s effect on children is Lord Carnworth, but he ruled out overturning the policy, saying: “It is in the political, rather than the legal arena, that the consequences of that must be played out.”

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), who supported the two women’s case, urged the government to take note of the judges' comments around its effect on children. Their chief executive Alison Garnham said: “The women and children involved in this case were escaping horrific abuse. We hope the government will listen to the court and comply with international law on the protection of children.”