Supreme Court hears challenge to two child limit in child tax credit and universal credit – R (SC & others) v SSWP

The Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 imposed a limit of two on the number of children born after 6 April 2017 in respect of whom the individual element of child tax credit or universal credit could be claimed. The Appellants, mothers and children affected by the limit, challenged the primary legislation on the basis that it breached their human rights. The Court of Appeal previously dismissed the appeal. It held that the limit did not engage the appellants’ rights under ECHR art.8 and art.12. The admittedly greater impact of the measure on women and the difference in treatment between families according to whether there were more than two children in the family fell within the ambit of art.14, read with Protocol 1 art.1 and art.8, but the measure pursued legitimate aims and the difference in treatment was not a manifestly disproportionate means of pursuing those aims and was objectively justified. This week a panel of 7 Justices of the Supreme Court are hearing the Appellants’ appeal over three days. Richard Drabble QC is acting for the Appellants and Galina Ward and Yaaser Vanderman (led by Sir James Eadie QC) are acting for the Government.

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