Secretary of State for Work and Pensions are both irrational and unlawful!
(Johnson v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.)
The government appealed and the case was heard by the Court of Appeal on 19 May 2020. The three Court of Appeal judges again found in our client’s favour and ruled that the income calculation method used by the DWP is irrational and unlawful. The government has not appealed the decision and will now have to make changes to satisfy the court order. However, these changes may not be immediate, and it is not yet clear how the government intends to fix the issue; but we would expect that it would be by amending the legislation relating to the income calculation method rules.
On The Breadline
A slice of life — Universal Credit (written Jan 2019)
DWP unfit for purpose, sick people being deemed ‘fit for work’ and then either dying or, killing themselves. Cuts, suicides, Single mums in crisis, homeless figures making history. Its easy to turn a blind eye, after all, we are all treading water in some way. Casually and unconsciously we stigmatise those individuals behind the headlines
But as housing costs and food prices rise, wages stagnate. Not even zero hours contracts can save us now. The very fabric of our public sector infrastructure is fraying, and you would be forgiven for not even noticing.
I recently interviewed a BBC worker who, for confidentiality purposes, I will call Jenny. Well dressed, confident, smiling, and with perfectly matched lipstick to handbag. Chic. Jenny seemed the picture of Middle English wealth, with a BBC accent to corroborate such imagery.
Underneath that smile is a single mother boasting an impressive ‘career portfolio’; She works as a Montessori Directress, and as a Radio Producer. She has humble written all over her. She quietly passes me the letter (in confidence) that she sent to her local conservative MP, in an affluent town, in chart topping, Oxfordshire.
Her letter details her own account of how a Christmas ‘payday clash’ left her with less than a fifth of her regular benefit amount, meaning she couldn’t pay her rent, or indeed afford to get to work. She works 6 days per week.
“This stops now. More children in poverty than under any other government, and hard working mothers having to use food banks”
All because nobody thought about that thing called the Christmas?
If this was overlooked in business, staff contracts would be terminated”
…I am the one that will be sacked, for I wont be able to afford to even get to my job thanks to universal credit not making working pay. Sorry BBC. Sorry children.”
Her heartfelt letter was a shockingly shared reality that put a spotlight on the ‘irrational’ benefit system that a recent high court ruling describes as “affecting single parents, who are mainly female, disproportionately”. A court ruling that came just one day after her desperate emailed plea to her local MP.
Jenny’s letter continues,
“…Christians, schools and generous individuals should not be shouldering the burden for misconduct by ministers that are paid to organise benefits and social security systems including universal credit.”
The palpable desperation is felt when reading each frustration- imbued sentence. The grievances all seem so reasonable. The impulsive late night email was raw. A raw account driven by her own desperate, terrifying reality. It may not be long before her children were certain statistics of childhood poverty, or worse made homeless.
I would imagine most people would agree charity and goodwill (mostly from schools and religious groups) should not be relied upon to feed Britain’s hardest working single parent families. Even occasionally reliance is morally questionable, let alone regular reliance, don’t you agree? Yet , right now all across the UK this regular reliance is reality. How long before the food banks run dry as goodwill dissipates, as it the case in America.
A quarter of families with dependent children are single parent families. This figure has no evidence of slowing down. With Universal credit now widely reported as ‘disproportionately affecting’ this demographic, the questions can’t come soon enough.
When will the ministers be held to account? How can we stop this now? And how did Britain’s social security system and its ‘Flagship reform’ become such a huge embarrassment?
This time last year, (front page, Guardian 26th Jan 2018) it was reported in the guardian that 10% of schoolteachers left the profession in just one year.
Jenny is a teacher and a part time BBC staff member. She is currently battling with the fear of being made homeless and not being able to afford to feed her children let alone to afford to get to work. I hope for the nations sake she is an anomaly. Somehow I fear she is not.
Jenny remains hopeful.
I hope she is right to.
A keen eye is kept on the landmark case detailing the ‘judicial review’ action against the work and pensions secretary. Not just by me, but by the millions of working single mothers like Jenny. Lets just hope it isn’t too little too late.
Slice of life — on the breadline.
*Jenny a pseudonym for a real person who wishes for her identity to be masked.