Legal news

Judicial Review of minimum income floor fails

The High Court has ruled in favour of the Government over the minimum income floor (MIF).

Following the Judicial Review hearing in July 2019 by our member Charmaine Parkin (represented by the law firm Leigh Day), the High Court has ruled in favour of the Government over the minimum income floor (MIF).

Charmaine took the government to court on the basis that the application of the MIF to her Universal Credit (UC) claim as a gainfully self-employed actor and director, has left her worse-off than she would have been if she was unemployed and claiming UC. She is a single mother who has caring responsibilities for two young children.

Leigh Day have provided a summary of the case and the outcome.

A full pdf copy of the Charmaine Parkin judgement can is available for downloaded.

In brief: a judicial review was launched on the basis that the MIF creates a different and unfavourable treatment for the gainfully self-employed compared to the employed under UC and that this was not justified. Specifically, it was argued that:

  1. Human rights: the discrimination is not justified on human rights grounds (right to family life, self-employment as a status)
  2. Irrationality: MIF policy is irrational - i.e. so unreasonable that no reasonable body acting properly and directing itself correctly as to the law could have formulated it
  3. Public sector equality duty: the DWP did not have ‘due regard’ to their duty; the policy adversely affects single parents such as Charmaine, who are mostly women.

Judge Justice Laing did not accept these arguments. Her judgement found that although there is discrimination and different treatment, it is justified on the basis that unprofitable self-employment should not be subsidised, and if the UC claimant is unable to sustain themselves through self-employment, they can elect to not be treated as self-employed full time under UC, and mitigate their circumstances by finding employment work. The judgement did not find that employed and self-employed claimants were in an analogous situation.

At this time, it is thought that a further appeal would not be successful and so will not be pursued. 

Equity’s policy continues to be to campaign for the abolition of the MIF, and we will be looking at how to continue lobbying effectively for this.

Universal Credit

Everything you need to know about Universal Credit, a means-tested, tax-free social security payment.

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