R (Prince) v Social Security Commissioners & SoS for the DWP & London Borough of Southwark (Interested parties) EWHC 1181 (Admin) concerns what can only be described as a bit of a chancer.
Mr Prince had claimed Jobseekers Allowance. He had also claimed Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. He was found to have been in paid employment for 20 months while claiming JSA. The DWP told Southwark, who then found he had been overpaid £1000 HB etc.
Mr Prince attempted to appeal Southwark’s decision to the Social Security Tribunal who dismissed the appeal. The Social Security Commissioners refused leave to appeal and Mr P sought JR of that decision .
The grounds were that that under the Housing Benefit (General) Regulations 1987 reg.2(3A), and the Council Tax Benefit (General) Regulations 1992 Sch.4 para.4, he was on JSA, as he was paid JSA, and therefore he was entitled to have his income disregarded by Southwark in calculating his entitlement to HB/CTB.
Alas for Mr P, a classic trap for the litigant in person is to mistake the commonsense effect of statute for what it actually says. And that is what he did.
The High Court made short shrift of this, pointing out that the relevant Reg., Reg 2(3A) stated that a person was ‘on’ JSA if JSA was ‘payable to’ the person on that day. Mr P might have been paid JSA, but as he was not entitled to it, it was not ‘payable’. Therefore his actual income for the period was not to be disregarded for his HB/CTB claim. JR claim dismissed.
Mr P goes down fighting, asking for permission to appeal on the basis that ‘The obvious fallacy in that, my Lord, is right at the start where your Lordship says that not being in remunerative employment is a requirement for JSA, which is entirely wrong’.
Permission to appeal refused, on the basis that this is just wrong, but no order as to costs because the authority had only served grounds a day or several before the hearing and had no schedule of costs.