A woman with MS who was penalised for not sharing a room with her husband has won her appeal against bedroom tax.
A tribunal judge in Glasgow has ruled in favour of a woman with severe disabilities, saying that housing benefit officials have breached the human rights of the woman after cutting her benefits under the bedroom tax rules.
The judge said that the woman, who has remained unnamed, who has multiple sclerosis, and her husband were legally entitled to a bedroom each as her condition was so severe that she needed a specially adapted bed and bedroom.
This tribunal could open the way for a series of other challenges as the judge said that he woman's rights under the European convention of human rights had been breached “without justification” which left her in rent arrears for three months.
Mike Dailly, the woman's solicitor, said that he believed this was the first successful human rights challenge that involved a disabled adult in the UK as earlier cases failed due to the fact they were too broad, reports the Guardian.
The judge said that all severely disabled adults that were unable to share a bedroom were a discrete group and were entitled to protection under the bedroom tax.
“We are delighted for our client, and believe that this judgment is very robust as there was no dispute on the facts that the appellant was severely disabled and could not share her specially adapted bedroom with her husband,” Dailly said.
“We think this decision – which we understand may be the first reported success in using unlawful discrimination and human rights law to challenge a bedroom tax decision in the UK – will be of great significance to other severely disabled people in similar circumstances to our client.”
The woman and her partner had been docked 14% o their housing benefit even though the woman had significant needs. The woman needs an electric wheelchair next to her bed, has a wheelchair ramp, remote power door entry, specially widened doors and a wet room, as well as special care during the night and visits by a specialist carer three times a day.
The judge ruled that she had been discriminated against as both the appellant and her husband needed separate rooms. “As a result of her severe disability and the aids and adaptations she requires, the appellant cannot share a bedroom with her husband,” she said.
Although the tribunal was a success the tribunal could still be appealed by the Department of Work and Pensions. However, the DWP introduced an exemption for severely disabled children from the single room subsidy rules in March this year.