Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

In the case of Motherhood Plan v HM Treasury [2021] EWHC 309 (Admin) the High Court held that the Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme was not discriminatory.

High Court Judgment Template

Last year, HMRC took on a project of a bigger scale than anything they had previously attempted in such a short timescale. That project was the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (the Scheme), and its aim was to help those whose income had been reduced by the pandemic. The payments were calculated by looking at the annual trading profits (ATP) from the previous three tax years, and working out the average for a three-month period, up to a limit of £7,500.

The judicial review claim

The Scheme was challenged by an application for judicial review brought by Motherhood Plan, a charity which aims to end discrimination faced by pregnant women and mothers. They contended that the Scheme was discriminatory against mothers, and brought two grounds:

  1. That the Scheme discriminated against self-employed women who had taken time off for pregnancy, contrary to Article 14 read with Article 1 Protocol 1 of the ECHR; and
  2. That HM Treasury had breached the Public Sector Equality Duty contained within the Equality Act 2010.

Article 14 and Article 1 Protocol 1

The first ground related to the broad protection which the Convention gives against discrimination on the basis of protected status. Pregnancy counts as a protected status for the purposes of the Convention. Article 1 Protocol 1 guarantees the right to not be deprived of ones possessions except when in the public interest.

The Claimants made two claims within the Article 14 ground, a) that the Scheme was indirectly discriminatory against pregnant women, or in the alternative b) that the Scheme should have a unique solution for pregnant women, who are in a unique situation.

Mrs Justice Whipple considered that the Scheme did not represent indirect discrimination. This was, principally, because the disadvantage caused was not as a result of the Scheme itself, but of previous lower incomes as a result of pregnancy. As such, it could not be said that the Scheme was discriminatory. For the alternative claim of a unique solution being necessary, Whipple J took the same position: that the women should not be compensated by the scheme for a disadvantage which was not the result or fault of the scheme.

Justification was also considered in the judgment, in case Whipple J was wrong on the fact that there was no Article 14 discrimination. She ruled that HM Treasury’s decisions were justifiable ones, in relation to five reasons: purpose of the scheme (to provide support to self-employed people), policy decisions (balancing the needs of many people against a relatively small group), the risk of fraud, perverse effects (keeping the Scheme simple), and value for money.

Public Sector Equality Duty

Under Section 149(1) of the Equality Act 2010, a public authority must have “due regard to” the need to eliminate discrimination and promote equality of opportunity. This, crucially, is a question of procedure, not of outcome. That is to say that a public authority need only consider and come to conclusions on the issue, not change any particular way in which they achieve the final result.

In this case, there was evidence that the questions had been considered by HM Treasury and the Chancellor when the Scheme was being set up.


Accordingly, both grounds failed and the application for judicial review was dismissed by the High Court.

Chris Hadrill, Partner in the employment team at Redmans, commented on the case: “This case shows that it can be difficult to succeed with broad-based claims that Government policies are discriminatory – such claims can be difficult to evidence and, further, may not succeed if the Government can show that it has, or had, a legitimate aim in implementing the scheme (and, further, that they have implemented that scheme proportionately).”

The High Court judgment in Motherhood Plan v HM Treasury [2021] EWHC 309 (Admin) can be found here.

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

    Your first name (required)

    Your last name (required)

    Your email (required)

    Your telephone number (required)

    Brief details of your enquiry


    4.81 Average

    313 Reviews


    Sacha was very thorough and very helpful, with great advice on when to act and when to wait on my case.

    Posted 2 days ago


    I have been very pleased with the support I got from Redmans Solicitors on my case with my employer. Caroline has always helped me to put things in perspective and showed me different scenarios ultimately to help me taking the right decision. She was very professional and always available when I needed, and at the same time also emphatic which I found also really important to establish a strong relationship. Will definitely recommend!

    Posted 4 days ago


    Prompt and efficient response to my enquiries. Excellent negotiating skills with my employer which considerably improved the terms of my settlement agreement.

    Posted 4 days ago


    Very quick and professional service , Rana was very helpful

    Posted 5 days ago

    James G

    Very professional, knowledgeable and kept me informed at every stage of my case. I would highly recommend Redmans.

    Posted 6 days ago

    Pravina P

    Chris was really good and help solve my issues with current company. I would recommend him to anyone.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Paul L

    Sacha was extremely helpful in my matter. I would not hesitate you use Sacha or Redmonds again. Everyone was very helpful.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Monique N

    I had Mel Chin helping me with a settlement and she was very professional and reliable throughout my case. Mel provided me with a good understanding of what was happening and gave suggestions on routes I could take. My case was resolved and closed promptly although the opposing side were very difficult to deal with. A very big thank you to Mel and Chris.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Jackie C

    My first ever experience needing the services of a solicitor; cannot speak highly enough of Mel and Chris’s personable, reassuring and straight to the point advice in dealing with my settlement agreement. They put me at ease during an extremely stressful time. I am equally as happy with the outcome, as l am their professional services.

    Posted 3 weeks ago


    Really happy with the service. All very efficient. Mel rattled through things very fast, however was great whenever I needed to stop and ask a question! Would definitely return to Redmans if I ever needed Legal advice.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Peter F

    Very helpful and clear advice, would highly recommend.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    William A

    Second time I have had to use Redmans. They did not disappoint. They are fast , efficient and friendly. I have already recommended them to friends and colleagues. I hope I dont have to use them again but if I have to , they are the solicitors for me.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Fleeta C

    Great service with tantastic communications. The solicitor responsible is extremely knowledgeable and was responsible for bringing a timely and desired solution.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Veronica M

    Extremely helpful, starting from a request for advice at very short notice, to dedicating time for me to understand and review all documents thoroughly.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Sophie R

    Very efficient and professional service. Chris was very empathetic, knowledgeable and personable. Highly recommended.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Melanie M

    Very happy with the detailed advice provided from Redmans. They also helped me to secure a higher settlement than originally offered by my employer and were extremely diligent. I first spoke with Chris at relatively short notice and then Sacha dealt with my case. Would definitely recommend and use again in the future if needed.

    Posted 1 month ago


    Redmans helped me with a work related issue, which was resolved quickly and professionally. I would definitely recommend this company.

    Posted 1 month ago

    James F

    Great people, really friendly and professional helped with everything that I needed.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anusha S

    My case was handled by Sacha who was very thorough and helped me to achieve a good outcome with my employer. Sacha was very personal, professional and helped me during quite a stressful time, so I am hugely grateful to her and to Redmans. This was my first time engaging with a law firm so I wasn't sure what to expect but I can definitely say that it was a good experience overall and I ended up better off due to having the help of an experienced and proactive solicitor on my side.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Diane P

    So grateful that I contacted Redmans to deal with my Redundancy Agreement. Everything from the initial call to the completion of the matter was professional, efficient and effective. I was listened to, had everything explained simply and kept informed of every step. I received super advice and the costs were very competitive. I would highly recommend them to anyone seeking similar help. First class service - thank you

    Posted 1 month ago

    Chris L

    It was a very efficient and effective service - Would recommend.

    Posted 1 month ago