The government is back in court today in a second attempt to block a legal route used by many people to appeal against benefit decisions.
Last year, Politics.co.uk reported that the DWP was using the case of Jayson and Charlotte Carmichael, who successfully challenged the bedroom tax at the Supreme Court, to try to stop other people from relying on the Human Rights Act when bringing a similar appeal.
The department lost that case but it is now dragging the Carmichaels back to court to appeal the decision.
“If we beat them this time, we hope the route that we used will be protected,” Jayson Carmichael told Politics.co.uk.
“We hope it will mean that welfare claimants can use the Human Rights Act successfully and free of charge in the lower tribunals.”
The couple’s legal battle against the bedroom tax began almost four years ago when a judge at a first tier tribunal ruled that the policy was in breach of their human rights.
The DWP appealed that decision but after a number of further hearings the Carmichaels won their case at the Supreme Court and considered the matter closed.
Several months later however, the DWP went back to court to argue that the first tier tribunal only has the power to identify that legislation is incompatible with the Human Rights Act – not to rule on a case on that basis.
If the government is successful in its latest challenge it could have major implications for future welfare appeals.
“Should the government win this case, it would severely curtail the powers of the social security tribunal,” Lucy Cadd of Leigh Day solicitors, who is acting for the Carmichaels, said.
“The Tribunal would no longer be able to address the injustice that is caused to a social welfare claimant by the application of regulations that breach their rights protected by the Human Rights Act. It is another example of the government seeking to undermine disabled people and social welfare claimants in general.”
The DWP said it would be inappropriate to comment on the case before the court’s decision is known.