Westminster council loses bedroom tax case
- 27 Sep
A barrister in Westminster who uses his spare room to store equipment due to being blind has won his appeal against bedroom tax.
Surinder Lall has won his appeal against the imposition of the bedroom tax and his case is thought to be one of the first victories against the bedroom tax in England.
Mr Lall, who is blind, successfully argued to a tribunal that a room in his flat which had been classified as a second bedroom had never been used as one and was where he kept his equipment that helped him lead a normal life.
In his decision notice, the judge wrote: "The term 'bedroom' is nowhere defined [in the relevant regulations]. I apply the ordinary English meaning. The room in question cannot be so defined." Reports the Guardian.
The council did not attend the hearing are said to not be appealing, however the Department for Work and Pensions has said it may do so.
It is thought that around 80,000 London households alone are affected by the bedroom tax, and of this number more than 50,000 of these people have a disability. Lall became a qualified barrister in 1988 and lost the remainder of his sight within the same year. If his housing benefit was cut, he would have lost £12 a week.
Westminster council have said that they previously invited Mr Lall to apply for a discretionary payment from a £190m fund which is made available by the government for disabled and other vulnerable tenants in order to make up the shortfall, however Mr Lall declined.
In his case, Mr Lall said that his additional room was used for equipment required by a disabled person which fell outside the scope of the regulations and that local housing departments should stop simple using the term bedroom in tenancy agreements to cut benefits.
Westminster have stressed that that its decision to cut benefits was based on information supplied by landlords.
The solicitor who assisted Lall with his case, Coral Williams, has said that local authorities and social housing tenants should look closely at the decision.
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