Welfare reforms survive challenge in court

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The Court of Appeal has upheld the legality of Government cutbacks in the benefits system that campaigners say are pushing people “to breaking point”.

Christian leaders have warned that “cutbacks and failures” in the system are forcing thousands of people to use food banks.

But appeal judges yesterday ruled that two of the Government’s most controversial measures – the so-called “bedroom tax” and the benefit cap – are not unlawful.

Lord Dyson, Master of the Rolls, rejected a two-pronged legal attack and said the court could only intervene if the measures “were manifestly without reasonable foundation”.

The judge ruled that that test was not satisfied and both challenges must fail.

Later campaigners vowed to fight on, saying the cuts are having a “devastating” impact on vulnerable people.

The Department for Work and Pensions, which was a defendant in both legal actions, welcomed the court’s ruling.

A spokesman said of its bedroom policy: “We are pleased that the courts have once again found in our favour and agreed our policy is lawful.

“Reform of housing benefit in the social sector is essential to ensure the long-term sustainability of the benefit.”

Referring to the benefit cap, the spokesman added: “We are pleased that the courts have ruled again that the benefit cap complies with the European Convention on Human Rights.

“It sets a fair limit to what people can expect to get from the welfare system – so that claimants cannot receive more than £500 a week, the average household earnings.”

The cap forms part of Government reforms to reduce spending on welfare by £11bn per year.

The case was brought by two lone parents forced into temporary accommodation in London, and one each of their children.