Court challenge on â€˜panic room' housing benefit change
Lawyers are set to argue that changes to housing benefit should not apply to people whose spare room has been converted into a safe refuge to protect them from violent ex-partners.
The High Court is set to consider a judicial review challenge into what critics call the “bedroom tax”, reports the BBC.
Ministers say that millions of pounds have been made available to allow for council help.
One woman being used for the case, known as “A” has been violently assaulted by an ex-partner and is now part of a Sanctuary Scheme. This means that she and her son live in a three-bedroom home in which one room is specially adapated as a safe and secure space by police.
Due to the benefit changes, the bedroom tax, A has had her housing benefit deducted by 14%.
The woman’s solicitor Rebekah Carrier says about 300 similar households are affected.
“These changes to housing benefit are having a catastrophic impact upon vulnerable people across the country,” she said.
“Our client’s life is at risk and she is terrified. She lives in a property which has been specially adapted by the police, at great expense, to protect her and her child. It is ridiculous that she is now being told she must move to another property, where she will not have any of these protections, or else take in a lodger. She is a vulnerable single parent who has been a victim of rape and assault. The secretary of state cannot seriously suggest that it is appropriate for her to take a stranger into her home.”
The claim is being supported by domestic violence charity Women’s Aid.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith is defending the claim, having unsuccessfully argued at a hearing in June that it should be dismissed.
The government says it has made nearly £350m available for local authorities to help in such cases.
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