Bedroom tax tribunal victory for single parent
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Legal, Regulation
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A Northumberland social housing tenant who saw his housing benefit slashed by 25% has won an appeal against the bedroom tax.
The father of one was told last April he would see his HB cut because he lives alone in a three-bedroom house.
The under-occupancy penalty saw the tenant lose £21.43 week, but he successfully argued that one of his bedrooms was used on a part-time basis by his young son.
The tribunal’s decision means the tenant’s HB will be cut by only 14% (£12 per week), and he should receive a rebate for lost payments dating back to April 2013, when the bedroom tax came in.
The tenant sought advice from the financial and social inclusion team at his landlord, Isos Housing, who helped him appeal the decision.
The tenant told Isos he hopes other parents in his position will be encouraged by his successful appeal and will challenge any deductions made from their HB.
The tribunal ruled that the Human Rights Act must be taken into account, in particular Article 8 on the right to family life, and this must apply to the tenant, his ex-wife and their son.
They were said to have both individual and collective rights to a family life.
The tribunal specified the importance of the tenant’s child having his own room at both his parents’ homes. It said if the original decision stood, this would represent “a serious interference with each one’s (father’s, mother’s, child’s) right to family life”.
Jon Twelves, Isos' assistant director of customers and communities, said: “Our tenant’s case could be very significant, as it appears the tribunal has recognised the need for his son to have his own room in the tenant’s home, noting how often he stays there – even without a court ruling specifying the access arrangements.
“We have worked hard to support all Isos tenants affected by under occupation. We contacted every affected household to offer them advice – and have supported several tenants to appeal against decisions made.”
While a first tier tribunal decision is not binding on other tribunals, Isos expects Northumberland County Council to consider the decision when assessing other claims for HB.
The social landlord, which provides over 12,400 homes across the North East, does not yet know yet whether the DWP will choose to appeal against the tribunal’s decision.
Should an appeal of the decision be heard in an upper tier tribunal, it would establish case law for HB claimants across the country.