Bedroom tax challengers appeal High Court ruling
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Legal, Regulation
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Disabled campaigners against the bedroom tax have begun a three-day hearing at the Court of Appeal to challenge last year's High Court ruling that the implementation of the government's under-occupancy is lawful.
Last July, three law firms representing 10 claimants argued that the bedroom tax discriminates against disabled social housing tenants.
Though the High Court accepted that the legislation is discriminatory, it ruled that the discrimination was justified as regards disabled adults and therefore lawful.
However, the judgement did not apply to disabled children unable to share a bedroom because of their disabilities.
Following the ruling, the government introduced new rules exempting households from the bedroom tax where children are unable to share a room because of their disability.
The controversial bedroom tax, introduced last April, sees working age social housing tenants docked up to 25% of their housing benefit if they are deemed to be under-occupying their homes.
Since its beginnings, campaigners and lawyers have argued that the bedroom tax discriminates against disabled people where so-called spare rooms are used to store vital equipment, are used by occasional overnight carers or are used by a tenant's partner when their disability means they find it difficult to share a bedroom.
During this week's Court of Appeal hearing, lawyers for adults with disabilities will argue that they should be entitled to full housing benefit for the accommodation they actually need and that the discriminatory impact of the measure on people with disabilities cannot be justified and is unlawful.
Law firms Leigh Day and Public Law Solicitors are representing the challengers at the hearing.
Ugo Hayter, from the Human Rights team at Leigh Day, said: “We are very confident that the Court of Appeal will see that the decision to implement this legislation by the government was clearly discriminatory and will overturn last year’s ruling by the High Court.
“It is a cruel and deeply disturbing benefit cut which hits the most vulnerable in society.”
Anne McMurdie, from Public Law Solicitors, said: “This case is about fairness. It is about disabled people being paid housing benefit to meet the size and type of accommodation they need because of their disabilities and not being financially penalised because they are disabled.
"Those with disabilities most in need of protection and support are bearing the brunt of the Government’s welfare cuts. These measures will result in disabled people falling into debt and being at risk of eviction and homelessness. Since the benefit change was implemented in April 2013 there has been a wealth of research and analysis making clear the serious adverse impact on disabled people.”