R v Social Security Secretary, ex p. Child Poverty Action Group [1990] 2 QB 540

Key points

  • Advocacy groups have sufficient interest to apply for judicial review on behalf of social security claimants whom they played a prominent role in assisting
  • Local council have sufficient interest to apply on behalf of their residents in relation to social security claims


  • The appellants,  including the Child Poverty Action Group, Hackney London Borough Council and the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux, sought judicial review of the legality of the Secretary of State’ administrative policy on handling Social Security claims
  • Here we are only concerned with the issue of whether the appellants had standing

Held (Court of Appeal)

  • The appellants had sufficient interest to challenge

Woolf LJ

  • “If the applicants’ contentions are correct, it is the individual claimants for supplementary benefit whose claims have been delayed who were directly affected as a result of the Secretary of State and the Chief Adjudication Officer misinterpreting their responsibilities. However, the application for judicial review has been made by the applicants because the issues raised are agreed to be important in the field of social welfare and not ones which individual claimants for supplementary benefit could be expected to raise. Furthermore, the Child Poverty Action Group and the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux play a prominent role in giving advice, guidance and assistance to such claimants. In addition, many claimants live within the boroughs of Islington and Hackney and those boroughs contend that the way the supplementary benefit scheme has been administered has adversely affected the boroughs in their carrying out of their responsibilities as well as adversely affecting their residents who are individual claimants for benefit.”: p. 546 – 7


  • This case lent support to growth of representative standing in English law, extending standing to both civil society and local government