Herbert Smith Freehills is delighted to announce that the Supreme Court has handed down a landmark human rights law judgment regarding the Widowed Parent's Allowance. The firm acted for Child Poverty Group (CPAG) in a Pro Bono capacity, helping to secure this victory.
The case relates to mother-of-four Siobhan McLaughlin. When her partner John died after 23 years together, she was not eligible for Widowed Parent’s Allowance to help her raise their children, because she and John had not married. CPAG was granted permission to intervene by the Supreme Court, and its submissions emphasised the discriminatory effect of the Widowed Parent's Allowance on the children of unmarried parents.
The Supreme Court ruled that denying bereavement benefits to unmarried, cohabiting partners with children is incompatible with human rights law and that the Widowed Parent’s Allowance is intended to provide for children in the event of a parent’s death, regardless of whether parents are married or not.
Child Poverty Action Group’s Director of Policy Louisa McGeehan said:
“The Supreme Court’s judgment clearly establishes that the eligibility criteria for the Widowed Parent’s Allowance is incompatible with the law. The Government must now move swiftly to apply the principle and ensure that all children who experience the death of a parent are supported financially on the same basis as children whose parents are married.”
The team at Herbert Smith Freehills was led by partner Andrew Lidbetter and supported by Jasveer Randhawa, Mark Smyth and Anisa Kassamali. Counsel instructed were Helen Mountfield QC and Tom Royston. The firm has an ongoing relationship with CPAG and has worked with them on a number of pro bono matters.