MH v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (SC944/19/01408)
CPAG represented the appellant in a challenge to the universal credit (UC) rules that prevent certain 19 year olds who are in full-time, non-advanced education from being included in their parents’ UC claim, while they are also prevented from claiming UC in their own right, on the basis that the provisions are discriminatory and irrational. The appeal was heard by the First-tier Tribunal on 24th November 2020 and was dismissed.
This case concerned entitlement to widowed parent’s allowance (WPA) where the appellant and her partner had undergone a religious ceremony, several years before his death, and considered themselves to be, and held themselves out as being, legally married even though they weren't in fact married under English law.
The First tier Tribunal found that the appellant had no entitlement to WPA because she did not meet the marriage requirement, and CPAG supported the appellant in appealing to the Upper Tribunal. Judgment was handed down on 26/05/20, dismissing the appeal. The Tribunal held that the grain of the legislation was that the benefit was only to be paid to a spouse or civil partner and to interpret it otherwise would be to cross the divide from the Tribunal's interpretive function and into policy matters that should be reserved for Parliament.
For the judgment and advice for unmarried WPA claimants, read full article.
Refugees with pre-flight children claiming Maternity Grant for first child in UK
Upper Tribunal decides refugees who arrived in the UK with children, can claim a Sure Start Maternity Grant when having their first child in the UK (as the contrary position results in unlawful discrimination).
R (DS and Others) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  UKSC 21:
This case concerned a judicial review challenging the revised, lower benefit cap, introduced in 2016. The appeal was brought on behalf of two single mothers who are affected by the cap due to their caring responsibilities. One of the claimants has children with significant health needs while the other has previously fled domestic violence. The appeal in this case was heard on 17-19 July 2018 by a 7 judge panel of the Supreme Court alongside that of R(DA and Others) v SSWP. Judgment was given on 15 May 2019 finding that cap did not unlawfully discriminate against lone parents with children under 5 and their children.
CPAG are now considering taking this matter to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. We are looking for new claimants for this next step of the challenge and would appreciate any suitable referrals via our test case pages of suitable families affected by the cap, particularly where there is no DHP in place.
In August 2018, the Supreme Court handed down its judgment that denying bereavement benefits to unmarried, cohabiting partners with children is incompatible with human rights law. Separately, CPAG is representing a Muslim woman with two young children who was also denied WPA following the sudden death of her partner with whom she had been through an Islamic marriage ceremony and believed herself to be lawfully married.
This appeal concerns the application of the ‘past presence’ test that requires disability benefit claimants to be resident in Great Britain for 104 weeks out of the 156 weeks prior to the claim. However, for claimants to whom an EU regulation applies, the past presence test is disapplied if they can establish a genuine and sufficient link to the UK social security system.