Benefit cap: 'undoubtedly harsh' yet not unlawfully discriminatory
Benefit cap: 'undoubtedly harsh' yet not unlawfully discriminatory

Today, the Supreme Court has acknowledged that the household benefit cap is not achieving its stated aims and is inflicting poverty on people. However, the judges also declared (by a majority of 5-2) that the cap does not unlawfully discriminate against lone parents or breach the rights of their children.

The appeal this stems from was brought after the High Court found in 2017 that the cap unlawfully discriminated against lone parents with children under two – a decision that … Read more

The benefit cap is harming struggling families
The benefit cap is harming struggling families

At Shelter, our solicitors and many other legal aid housing lawyers frequently represent families who are struggling in unimaginable ways under the household benefit cap. This policy, introduced in 2013 and revised in 2016, caps the amount in state benefits that an individual household can claim per year. Many families affected by the cap are now at breaking point.

A grandmother who gave up work to care for her five grandchildren, only for her benefits to be capped because … Read more

Shake up to council duties to tackle homelessness starts today
Shake up to council duties to tackle homelessness starts today

From today, councils must change the way they help homeless people, as the Homelessness Reduction Act comes into force.

The new legislation is certainly needed. Homelessness in England has reached crisis point, as the tragic reports of people dying on our streets during the recent cold weather have brought into sharp focus.

Few of us can say we haven’t noticed an increase in men and women bedding down. Street homelessness has more than doubled in five years: last autumn over … Read more

Benefit cap challenge beaten in Court of Appeal
Benefit cap challenge beaten in Court of Appeal

Last week, the Court of Appeal handed down a disappointing decision on the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) benefit cap policy. It found in the government’s favour that the benefit cap is not unlawful, in so far as it applies to lone parents with children under the age of two.

The benefit cap restricts the amount of benefit payments a household can get to £23,000 in London and £20,000 everywhere else. While the cap is supposed to increase parity … Read more

On Universal Credit, the government is ignoring the elephant in the room

As Philip Hammond prepares for this week’s Budget, it looks increasingly likely that he will concede on making some changes to Universal Credit (UC). Faced with opposition from his own backbenchers, who have challenged him with distressing tales from their constituencies, Mr Hammond may opt to reduce the six week waiting time for the benefit.

If so, it will be welcome. We have been calling for changes for long enough. Our frontline workers are seeing families reduced to destitution because … Read more

The benefit cap: time for a rethink

A version of this blog first appeared on Inside Housing earlier this week.

The reduction to the benefit cap starts on Monday, putting more families at risk of losing their home. Ministers should re-think the cut if it is serious about tackling homelessness.

Next week, 319,000 children will begin to be affected by a new cap on their families’ benefit payments. With Christmas now less than two months away and many already living on a financial knife-edge, the prospect of … Read more

London’s forgotten homeless


How have we got into a situation in London where being homeless could mean: 

a)      Living in insecure temporary accommodation for up to 23 years 

b)      Living in temporary accommodation up to 200 miles away 

c)       Subject to the benefit cap with a £100 per week shortfall, putting you at risk of arrears and eviction?



A heady combination of a housing shortage, inadequate government support with housing costs, some private landlords taking advantage of desperate councils, and the Read more

Homeless families to be hit twice by benefit cap

The overall benefit cap comes into force today, imposing a maximum ceiling on the amount of support a household can claim, regardless of need.

It’s popular but controversial, both sentiments stemming in large part from its simplicity: by adopting a single, national maximum, the policy ignores the wide variations in rent that exist across the country.

Ministers have already been quick to hail it a success, although their claim that it has directly encouraged families into work was equally … Read more