February 2016 Bedroom Tax Win in Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal has ruled that the so-called bedroom tax is unlawful because of its impact on vulnerable individuals.

The Court of Appeal dealt with two appeals together and in both cases ruled that the discrimination against victims of domestic violence and disabled children was not lawful. The judicial review claim challenged regulation B13 introduced into the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006, which sees housing benefit reduced by 14% for families deemed to have one extra bedroom or by 25% for families deemed to have two extra bedrooms. The provision came into force on 1 April 2013.

One appeal, brought by a woman known only as A, concerned the effect of the policy on women living in Sanctuary Scheme homes – properties which are specially adapted because of risks to the lives and physical safety of women and children who live in them. Under the bedroom tax, A and her son are only entitled to receive housing benefit for a 2-bedroom property. However they live in a 3-bedroom property which has been specially adapted for them by the police pursuant to a Sanctuary Scheme, because her life and physical safety are at risk from her ex-partner who has a history of serious violence. Her housing benefit has been reduced by 14% given the Secretary of State’s policy.  She successfully argued that the Secretary of State had failed to take into account the disproportionate impact of the bedroom tax upon victims of domestic violence, who are overwhelmingly women, and in particular those in Sanctuary Scheme homes.

 The second appeal concerns the impact of the policy on seriously disabled children who need overnight care. Paul and Susan Rutherford care for their severely disabled grandson, Warren, in a special-adapted three bedroom bungalow in Pembrokeshire. Warren has a rare genetic disorder and is unable to walk, talk or feed himself and requires24 hour care. The Court found that the bedroom tax discriminates against disabled children in breach of the Human Rights Act. Both Paul and Susan have disabilities themselves and can only care for Warren with the help of paid carers who stay overnight on a regular basis.

The Court of Appeal have granted permission to the Secretary of State to appeal to the Supreme Court against the finding that the discrimination caused by the bedroom tax breaks the law.

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