10 claims taken to the High Court say the government’s Bedroom Tax is discriminatory.
The court will hear the claims of ten people who are being negatively affected by the bedroom tax next week.
Two of the tenants claim that the new rules discriminate against people who need larger accommodation for reasons relating to their disability.
Jacqueline Carmichael is challenging regulation B13 introduced into the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006, which will see a single person or a couple with no children having their housing benefit reduced by 14% where they occupy a two-bedroom home and by 25% if they occupy a home with three or more bedrooms.
Mrs Carmichael lives with her husband in a two-bedroom flat run by One Vision Housing. She has spina bifida, is severely disabled and is cared for day and night by her husband.
Her condition means that she has to sleep in a hospital bed with an electronic pressure mattress and has to sleep in a fixed position. Mr Carmichael cannot sleep in this bed with her as it is not large enough for two people and his movements at night could cause her harm. There is not enough space in her bedroom for a second bed so Mr Carmichael sleeps in a second bedroom.
Since 1 April, the Carmichaels have had their housing benefit reduced by 14%. They have now been granted a Discretionary Housing Payment to cover the shortfall in their rent for six months, but they do not know how they will meet their rent when the period ends.
Leigh Day’s other client is Richard Rourke, a disabled widower who uses a wheelchair.
Mr Rourke lives with his stepdaughter in a three-bedroom council bungalow. His stepdaughter is also disabled with a rare form of muscular dystrophy, a degenerative condition that attacks the lungs, heart and muscles.
She is currently in the first year of university and lives in halls of residence during term time but returns home for the full summer vacation, at holiday periods and at weekends.
The tenant uses the third bedroom, a small box room, to store his equipment including a hoist for lifting him, his power chair and his shower seat.
Mr Rourke has looked in the social and private sector for two-bedroom properties which are suitable for wheelchair use but none are available.
Since April, Mr Rourke has had his housing benefit cut by 25% as he is deemed to be under-occupying by two bedrooms.
Mr Rourke’s only income is from benefits. Unable to work, his day-to-day living costs are increased due to his disabilities, and he has not been able to pay the shortfall in his rent of £25.38 per week.
Mr Rourke made an application for DHP funding in March, but his case not yet been decided. He is currently accruing rent arrears.
Ugo Hayter from the Human Rights team at Leigh Day, the law firm representing the two tenants, said:
We hope that the Court will rule that these Regulations are discriminatory in that they completely fail to make any provision for those who need larger accommodation as a result of their or their family members’ disability.
We hope that the government will be made to amend these Regulations and reverse the devastating consequences currently being experienced by thousands of people with disabilities around the country.