Grandparents vow to fight on after High Court dismisses bedroom tax case
Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Care and Support, Central Government, Local Government
Rutherfords vow to fight on after High Court dismisses bedroom tax case
Two grandparents caring for a severely disabled child hit by the bedroom tax vowed to fight on today, after their judicial review challenge was dismissed by the High Court.
Paul and Susan Rutherford care for their 14-year-old grandson Warren in a specially adapted home that includes a room for professional carers to stay in overnight. Their housing benefit has been reduced as they are deemed to have a spare bedroom.
Represented by the Child Poverty Action Group, the family are challenging housing benefit restrictions for social tenants, introduced last year, which charge families with disabled children who have a bedroom for overnight carers, even though there is an exemption for disabled adults in the same situation.
Mr Justice Stuart-Smith today dismissed their judicial review claim, relying on the fact that the family have been granted a discretionary housing payment from Pembrokeshire Council to cover the shortfall in rent for a year.
Solicitor for the Child Poverty Action Group, Mike Spencer, said: “The Rutherfords are understandably very disappointed by today’s ruling.
"The court has at least indicated that the local council should help pay the shortfall in Warren’s rent, but ultimately families with severely disabled children should be entitled to the same exemption as disabled adults and not have to rely on uncertain discretionary payments.
"Paul and Sue work round the clock to care for Warren and have the constant fear hanging over them that Warren might lose his home and have to go into care. They will be seeking to appeal.”
Warren suffers from Potocki-Shaffer Syndrome, a very rare genetic disorder which causes him grave cognitive and physical disabilities.
He requires 24-hour care by at least two people at all times. His grandparents, who both suffer from disabilities themselves, struggle to look after him alone and need the help of two paid carers who can stay overnight at least twice a week.
The family live in a three-bedroom bungalow that has been specially adapted to meet Warren’s needs. Paul and Susan share one room, Warren sleeps in another and the third room is needed for the carers to stay overnight and to store Warren’s equipment.
Without the help of overnight carer workers Warren would have to be put into residential care, at substantial extra cost to his local authority.
The Department for Work and Pensions welcomed today's ruling. In a statement, a DWP spokesman said: "We are pleased that the courts have once again found in our favour and agreed our policy is lawful.
"We have made £345 million available to councils since the reforms were introduced to help vulnerable families who may need extra support.
"The removal of the spare room subsidy is a fair and necessary reform. It will give families in overcrowded accommodation hope of finding an appropriately sized property and help bring the housing benefit bill under control."