High Court to rule on bedroom tax for disabled families

  • The High Court will rule today whether the Government's "bedroom tax" discriminates against disabled people in social housing.

    The new housing benefit regulations which were introduced on 1st April 2013 would mean reductions in benefit payments to tenants who are "under-occupying" in their accommodation.

    This led to families arguing that the regulations will discriminate against housing benefit claimants who are disabled or have disabled family members, as they require the addition room and it breaches their clients' human rights as this extra space is for health reasons. They argue it fails to deal with the needs of the disabled and the amount of space they realistically need.

    Under new "size criteria", tenants with one spare bedroom have had a payment reduction of 14% and those deemed to have two or more spare, a reduction of 25%.

    About 660,000 working-age social housing households judged to have too many bedrooms have lost an average of £14 per week since their benefit was cut at the beginning of April.

    The Department for Work and Pensions estimated that 420,000 disabled people would be among those affected.

    The High Court is expected to rule on a legal challenge to the bedroom tax today, which was brought by families with vulnerable and disabled children. There are 10 claimants represented by three law firms. They are from various places including London, Stoke-on-Trent, Manchester and Birmingham. The BBC have shared four of the ten cases, which are as follows:

    Here are the arguments of four of them:

    Case one

    Lawyers for one London family say they live in a damp, one-bedroom flat infested with mice. One son has autism, the other has Down's Syndrome. The child with autism sleeps in the bedroom while his mother, father and brother sleep on the floor in the living room. Due to the changes, they say they cannot afford to move to the larger property authorities say they need.

    Case two

    Charlotte Carmichael has spina bifida and sleeps in a hospital bed which, she argues, her husband and full-time carer cannot share. He sleeps in their spare room as there is not enough space in hers for a second bed.

    Case three

    In 2011, six-year-old Isaac was assaulted by the then partner of his mother, leaving him traumatised. He and his mother were made homeless and assessed as needing three bedrooms because, solicitors say, of Isaac's behavioural and mental issues. His mother lost £15.52 a week on 1 April when the council judged they were under-occupying.

    Case four

    A wheelchair user living in a three-bedroom bungalow shared with his stepdaughter who has a rare form of muscular dystrophy says he needs a third bedroom to store equipment including a hoist for lifting him. He contends there are no suitable two bedroom homes in the social sector.

    More news for The High Court will be announced later today.

     

    30/07/2013 11:42 via The Guardian:

    "Bedroom tax legal challenge dismissed by high court. Judges say courts should not be so involved at this level of policy when local authorities have discretionary powers.

    Ten families have lost their attempt to overturn the government's "bedroom tax" on the basis that it was highly discriminatory and contrary to article 14 of the European convention of human rights.

    Two judges ruled that courts should not "micromanage" policy decisions and that the provision of discretionary housing payments granted local authorities enough flexibility to deal with shortfalls in rent arrears."

    Image source: http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/71078

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