DWP In the Dock Again, This Time Over Benefit Cap

civil-servant-in-the-dockAnother of Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship welfare reforms is to face a court challenge it has been reported this week.  Four families are to bring a judicial review against the cap on benefits at £500 a week which was recently brought into force in three London boroughs and is due to be extended throughout the UK from July.  The families will argue that the cap is ‘discriminatory and unreasonable’.

This latest legal challenge comes in the same week that the DWP faced a humiliating court defeat over the Atos assessments for sickness and disability benefits – which were ruled to discriminate against people with mental health conditions.  This followed last week’s news that the DWP had lost a tribunal hearing and was ordered to release the names of the companies and charities profiting from workfare schemes.

These are the very same workfare schemes which were ruled unlawful in the Appeal Court earlier in the year.  This judgement forced Iain Duncan Smith, with the shameful support of Labour, to introduce emergency legislation to steal compensation payments due to those who had benefits sanctioned under the illegal schemes.  Despite this, the DWP are clearly on a losing streak and long may it continue.

The department may hope to be on safer ground with the benefit cap, which the Tories believe has been one of their most popular reforms.  Yet along with the housing benefit caps, in many ways this policy has been one of the nastiest of all.

The benefit cap has been the one policy that has absolutely guaranteed that tens of thousands of claimants -  almost all with children – would lose their homes.  There is not even a remote possibility of families being able to scrimp and save to pay the rent if they live in the capital.  Across huge swathes of London grasping landlords charge far more in rent than even the maximum now allowed in benefits, leaving these families with no choice but to leave the city.  One of the richest cities in the world, is about to export it’s poorest residents to places like Bradford and Birmingham where unemployment is already soaring and public services are stretched to breaking point

It is not the fault of claimants that rents have sky-rocketed out of control in London and that no government has made any meaningful attempt to address the chronic lack of social housing.  The difficulties involved in finding a private sector flat, where many landlords demand ‘No DSS’, is already one of the main causes of homelessness in the city.  Often claimants have faced eye-watering rents simply because these were the only properties available.  Slum landlords have been all too happy to exploit the situation, with astronomical rent demands for shitty rooms in B&Bs or flats that they wouldn’t be able to let to someone who was working – and who had a choice about where they lived.

Yet the Government has chosen to punish claimants themselves for the greed of landlords by forcing them from their homes. Two of the families who have launched the legal challenge against the benefit cap have recently fled domestic violence.  Many claimants in high rent London properties have been those who have faced desperate circumstances and have done what any decent parent would – which is made sure their children have a roof over their heads by any means possible.  These children, who may already have faced significant trauma due to witnessing or experiencing abuse, homelessness and just simple poverty, will have settled in these new homes, gone to school and made friends.  Now they are to be uprooted again, possibly hundreds of miles away, whilst watching their parent(s) disintegrate under the pressures of forced relocation and a new threat of homelessness.

Rarely has a government policy been so precision targeted to attack the most marginalised in society.  People who may just have been starting to put the pieces of their lives back together in safe if shabby accommodation, only to have that security destroyed as they face being cast out onto the streets.

And like so many of Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms, the policy was based on a lie – which is that there were claimants living in areas or properties that those in work could not afford.  Housing Benefit  is available to families in and out of work alike.  Working families in the capital living in high rent areas would be just as eligible for housing benefits as those out of work. Even families on salaries of £30k plus may have been eligible for some housing benefit in parts of the capital.

Housing Benefit has  functioned as a crude sticking plaster for a dysfunctional housing market, and now that sticking plaster is being ripped away.  The consequences of this, for some of the UK’s poorest and most vulnerable children, will be terrifying.  All those who have cheered this reform from the sidelines should think of those children whose lives are about to be destroyed as a result of this bodged experiment in social cleansing.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

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38 responses to “DWP In the Dock Again, This Time Over Benefit Cap

  1. “The department may hope to be on safer ground with the benefit cap, which the Tories believe has been one of their most popular reforms.” That’s irrelevant, the court case will turn on whether it’s legal, not popular.

  2. yes, but the response to any judgment will depend on what they think they can get away with, as we saw with the workfare verdict.

  3. Pingback: DWP In the Dock Again, This Time Over Benefit C...

  4. The Courts like any other establishment must start to show some understanding and compassion to these people, indeed just like they have with the ESA JR won a few days ago I am sure that the human rights act will come into this too.

    • Isn’t the government trying to do away with pesky human rights?

      • They’d love to, as even Labour want to renege on the European Charter that Blair signed up to in an uncharacteristic moment of humanity, (or maybe absent-mindedness, no UK government has ever been too happy about conferring actual ‘rights’ on ‘citizens’, which is basically NewSpeak for serfs as far as the UK is concerned) and I’m pretty sure that the Tories are even more upset that they have actually to at least pay lip service to the notion of Human Rights, though they try and wriggle out of their obligations wherever they can.

  5. No doubt there will be an appeal-if the review finds in favour of the families-which will delay the likelihood of any reforms to this disastrous policy.
    If the appeal fails,expect some weasel-worded retro-legislation,as with the recent workfare debacle.

  6. This current DWP ministery should be charged with crimes against humanity!

  7. Pingback: DWP In the Dock Again, This Time Over Benefit Cap | paultmillington

  8. They want to throw all the Labour voters out of London.

  9. murray i concur with you, thomas i fail to concur with you regarding throw all the labour voters you for got to include the tories / libdems / ukip? it is their fault that the parties they voter for fail uphold as to what these a*seh*les promise and then break them as soon as they get elected?
    We need a government for the people and themselves and to fleece the tax payers & kill the poor!!!!

  10. I wish them all the luck in the world against IDS, London has become an ever increasing cruel and unforgiving city to the poorest in society, no wonder the ethnic minorities in their suffering gravitate to one another.

  11. “All in it Togeather”if you earn at least £100,000pa,anyone earning less can fuck off,seems to be the policy of all mainstream political parties.Coming soon to a country near you, Third World status.

  12. Good luck to them. We all know it is the system but they continue to blame the victims. Can DWP email lists of jobs if you don’t tick either the UJM’s allow access or allow DWP to email you box on the UJ site? Just wondering because I got a list of jobs emailed – all completely irrelevant to me of course. Annoying when I haven’t granted them permission.

  13. I want to say so much but will keep it basic- these EVIL, LYING, narcissistic excuses for human beings are at last being bought to trial- may it snowball! I can speak for so many of us when I say the wrong doers should be charged with crimes against humanity… People who have lost their lives due to the sickening Government reforms won’t have died in vain and maybe, just maybe my late Father fought to save a country in WW11, worthy of, “Great” to be in front of it’s name…

  14. I should add these jobs – about 100 of them many 100′s miles from me were emailed to my own private email address by DWP jobsalert I think it was called. I didn’t think they were allowed if you don’t tick that box.

  15. If you dont tick the box it just means they cant access the jobs you apply for,but can send vacancies to you. I think?

  16. Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    Coming on the same day as my own article on government members who not only lie to Parliament and the public but also break the law, apparently with impunity – http://mikesivier.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/ids-and-too-many-other-ministers-are-having-their-way-by-playing-fast-and-loose-with-the-facts/ – this is a must-read. Yet again the DWP is in trouble.
    Yet again, the mainstream media have not mentioned it at all (this article is based on a piece from Inside Housing).
    What next?
    I can only rub my hands with glee and hope for the best…

  17. If the latest court case goes against the DWP, the tories will simply change the law again, no doubt with connivance from labour

  18. Hi Johnny Scope are still using workfare in Hull east yorks and it is still going strong!!!

  19. lol. Humiliating defeat at the hands of two anonymous dudes who only had to (presumably somehow communicate the need for someone to, on their behalves,) argue that “We are unable to argue.”, to win. :)

  20. I wouldn’t hold too much faith in the propertied elite legal system; which protects private property over civil liberties, and acts as the strong-arm of bougeois interests. I expect nothing – my faith lies in the working class.

  21. Landless Peasant

    Their bungled policies are (almost) laughable. How much longer can this incompetent bunch of unelected Tyrants continue to flout the Law? You’d think at least one of them would have a working knowledge of the Legal system, what with all their superior education and all. We must therefore conclude that (at the very least) the Secretary of State for Justice, the Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, along with IDS and Lord Fraud, are ALL unfit for purpose, incompetent, and/or negligent, indeed, culpable. Heads should roll. What is Ed Miliband saying about the shabby illegal policies of this criminal Tory Junta?

  22. Anyway of finding this guy’s personal details?

  23. Johnny add to the fact that IDS has been forced to admit his use of using statistics to mislead.. DWP are in the shit.

  24. May I remind everyone that in U.K. Parliament is supreme over the courts & if it re-passes something in a law then the courts won’t interfere a second time.

  25. The UK Parliament break international Law namely in the Atos Medical tests that have led to many premature deaths by subjecting already very ill clients to pressures and stress that push them to physically or mentally collapse .The Resulting Deaths are Democide ,a word which is being dodged avoided and censored by the media , Facebook , Twitter etc. with as much vigour as Genocide was until the evidence started floating out on Uganda’s Rivers .Democide is Murder either directly or indirectly through a Governments home policy .The actions of our Parliament defy International Law on many counts and are driven under the guise of relief of a deficit that was created by and fuelled by our corrupt financial institutions and corporate businesses who themselves take massive salary’s and bonuses whilst evading the payment of Taxes both by themselves ,the Shareholder and the Companies they work for . Parliament no longer is representative of the population nor has been for many years but serve the Corporate ,Elite and are in effect controlled by a very wealthy and power mad few .

  26. Pingback: DWP In the Dock Again, This Time Over Benefit Cap | Street Democracy - where it should reach

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