R (on the application of Barber) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Case date: 17 July 2002
Mr Barber and his ex-wife shared the care of their children equally. Mr Barber complained that the child benefit for his younger son went entirely to his ex-wife, so it was not shared. The Secretary of State refused to use his power or discretion to split the money. These powers and discretion are set out in regulation 34 of the Social Security (Claims and Payments) Regulations 1987 (SI 1987/1968 and paragraph 5 of Schedule 10 to the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992.
Mr Barber applied for judicial review of that decision. He argued that the statutory scheme had an all-or-nothing approach, where the parent who did not receive child benefit was treated as an absent parent, and did not receive pension support or any other welfare benefits if he became ill or unemployed.
He also argued that the benefits system was subject to the prohibition on discrimination in article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, read with article 8 of the Convention.
Regulation 34 says that the Home Secretary (via benefits administrators) can order that all or part of a benefit will be paid to someone other than the usual receiver, if the Home Secretary thinks this is necessary to protect the interests of the receiver, or of any child or dependant for whom the benefit is payable.
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