Welfare Benefits Law

Expert representation for society’s most vulnerable in cases up to the European Court of Human Rights.

To contact the Welfare Benefits Clerks, please email copclerks@gclaw.co.uk or phone

+44 (0)20 7993 7600

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Access to welfare benefits affect millions of people, including some of the most vulnerable members of society.

Our Welfare Benefits Team is committed to defending the rights of those in need, either by taking on test cases or by providing urgent relief by way of judicial review to individual claimants who are facing destitution or the loss of their home.

Our barristers provide representation in the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber), Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, Administrative Court, European Court of Justice and European Court of Human Rights.

Our expertise across the spectrum of social security law ensures that our barristers are particularly well-suited to act in cases involving the interaction of welfare benefits with other disciplines, such as housing law, EU law, human rights, discrimination and public law challenges

public funding

Despite the cuts to legal aid under LASPO, public funding is still available for the above types of work. For further details see: Use it or lose it: welfare benefits available on the LAG website.

 

The impact of welfare reform

Access to welfare benefits affects millions of people, including some of the most vulnerable members of society, as “a social security case may well involve the right of a claimant to subsistence income and so directly affect their access to the most fundamental necessities of life” (per Dyson LJ, Wiles v Social Security Commissioner & Anr [2010] EWCA Civ 258).

It had generally been assumed that welfare benefits were designed to provide a guarantee of a basic level of entitlement for those unable to support themselves and to provide a safety net for the vulnerable. The programme of welfare reform introduced in 2010 onwards has undermined this principle. Many claimants are being left with little or no income for significant periods of time due to a combination of delays, conditionality and sanctions. The rollout of universal credit has compounded these problems.
Garden Court Chambers is committed to addressing these issues, be it by taking on test cases or by providing urgent relief to individual claimants who are facing destitution or the loss of their home, by way of judicial review.

 

publications and training

Members of our Welfare Benefits Team co-author the annual Housing Benefit Update in the Legal Action Group’s magazine and are contributors to the welfare benefits sections in Macdonald’s Immigration Law and Practice and The Housing Law Handbook (Law Society). Members of the Team regularly provide training to a range of organisations including the Housing Law Practitioners Association, the Immigration Law Practitioners Association, the AIRE Centre, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

 

 

Recent notable cases and news

High Court rules it was lawful to restrict £20-a-week covid uplift for Universal Credit claimants with no backdating for legacy benefits claimants

Desmond Rutledge, of the Garden Court Chambers Welfare Benefits Law Team, represented the Claimants, led by Jamie Burton QC of Doughty Street Chambers and instructed by William Ford of Osbornes Law.

18 February 2022

Garden Court secures number one rankings in Chambers UK Bar Guide 2022

21 October 2021

DWP to stop ‘cold-calling’ disabled people to make low benefit ‘offers’

The Claimant was represented by Desmond Rutledge of the Garden Court Chambers Welfare Benefits Law Team instructed by Sara Lomri of Public Law Project. The Claimant was also represented by Bijan Hoshi of Garden Court & PLP.

14 July 2021

High Court challenge to denial of benefit increases for nearly 2m people with disabilities

Desmond Rutledge of Garden Court Chambers instructed by William Ford of Osbornes Law.

29 April 2021

Upper Tribunal rules that a British child living with her mother in the UK will not be entitled to Disability Living Allowance if her father is living and working in another EU State

Adrian Berry and Desmond Rutledge acted for the Claimant, instructed by William Ford of Osbornes Law. The claimant is considering an appeal to the Court of Appeal.

12 March 2020

HMRC defeated at European Court of Justice on rights for pregnant self-employed EU Citizens

Adrian Berry and Desmond Rutledge of Garden Court Chambers represented Ms Dakneviciute, instructed by the Welfare Rights Service of the City of Wolverhampton Council.

19 September 2019

Garden Court Chambers extends condolences and solidarity to all those affected by Grenfell Tower tragedy

Garden Court Chambers is horrified by the fire at Grenfell Towers. We extend our condolences and our solidarity to all those bereaved, injured or rendered homeless.

16 June 2017

Leslie Thomas QC, Judy Khan QC and Marc Willers QC elected as Joint Heads of Chambers

Garden Court is delighted to announce that Leslie Thomas QC, Judy Khan QC and Marc Willers QC have been elected as Joint Heads of Chambers.

31 January 2017

Court of Appeal clarifies the approach to be taken when restricting the amount of housing benefit payable to claimants in a women’s refuge

Desmond Rutledge of Garden Court Chambers acted for the Intervener (Roshni).

7 December 2016

Past Notable Cases

 

R(DA) and Others v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2017] EWHC 1446 (Admin) – Benefit Cap
Whether unlawful discrimination, in so far as it applied to lone parents with children under the age of two

Court of Justice finds that self-employed women have maternity rights
C-544/18 HMRC v Dakneviciute, held that self-employed EEA nationals are entitled to a right of residence and entitled to welfare benefits (such as child benefit, tax credits, homelessness assistance, social housing and other related benefits) during their maternity leave.

Birmingham City Council & Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v SS and SA (Roshni intervener) [2016] EWCA Civ 1211, [2017] AACR 8 – Housing benefit
Whether rent charged by a women’s refuge was unreasonably high by comparison with rent charged by publicly funded charities

GN v Sevenoaks Borough Council (HB) [2016] UKUT 271 – Housing Benefit
Property subject to a confiscation order

Sanneh v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Others [2015] EWCA Civ 49, [2016] QB 455, [2015] 2 CMLR 27 – Income Support
‘the rights of Zambrano’ carers – prior to amendments to the habitual residence test in November 2012

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v SF [2015] UKUT 502 (AAC), [2016] AACR 16 – Income Support – EEA workers
Extent of the rights under C-507/12 Saint Prix

Burnip v Birmingham City Council & Anor [2012] EWCA Civ 629, [2012] HRLR 20, [2013] AACR 7 – Housing Benefit
LHA rules as applied to the disabled in breach of Article 14 of the ECHR under the Thlimmenos principle

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v Payne and Anor [2011] UKSC 60, [2012] 2 AC 1
Income Support and the Social Fund

Whether the Secretary of State has the power to recoup a social security debt when it is subject to a Debt Relief Order

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v Maria Dias (C-325/09) [2011] 3 CMLR 40; [2012] All E.R. (EC) 199; [2011] Imm AR 855 – Income Support
Whether periods of residence completed prior to the transposition of Directive 2004/38/EC contribute to the acquisition of the right to permanent residence

Malekout v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2010] EWCA Civ 162, [2010] AACR 28 - Income Support
Early retirement pension taken under the NHS Pension Scheme following a personal injury – whether the disregard for personal injury applied

Novitskaya v London Borough of Brent and another [2009] EWCA Civ 1260 [2010] AACR 6 – Housing Benefit
Whether a claim can be made without using explicit words to indicate that a claim for housing benefit is being made

R (Gargett) v London Borough of Lambeth [2008] EWCA Civ 1450, [2009] PTSR 1434 – Discretionary Housing Payment
Whether a claimant could be entitled to a discretionary housing payment for a past period if they are currently in receipt of maximum Housing Benefit

Rowley & Ors v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2007] EWCA Civ 598, [2007] 1 WLR 2861 – Child Support
Whether the Secretary of State owed a common law duty of care in negligence to an applicant for child support under the Child Support Act 1991

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v Bhakta [2006] EWCA Civ 65 – Income Support
Habitual residence test and the use of the advanced awards provisions

R (National Association of Colliery Overmen, Deputies and Shot Firers) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2003] EWHC 607 (Admin) – Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
Whether the DWP’s failure to issue guidance on the use of the ‘Cold Water Provocation Test’ in relation to prescribed industrial injuries disease PDA11 (vibration white finger) was unlawful

Cooke v Secretary of State for Social Security [2001] EWCA Civ 734, [2002] 3 All ER 279 – Disability Living Allowance
Correct test for appeal to Court of Appeal from Social Security Commissioner and other specialist tribunals

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