Victims of the bedroom tax scored a massive victory today when the Court of Appeal ruled the Tories’ policy is ‘unjustified discrimination’.
The Guardian report that the grandparents of a severely disabled teenager and a victim of domestic violence have both won a challenge to the court of appeal, over the lawfulness of the so called ‘bedroom tax’.
Three judges at the court of appeal – the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas, Lord Justice Tomlinson and Lord Justice Vos – announced that they were allowing the appeals in both cases on the grounds that the ‘admitted discrimination in each case … has not been justified by the secretary of state’.
One case, which was brought by ‘A’ – a single mother living in a three-bedroom council house fitted with a secure panic room to protect her from a violent ex-partner – concerned the effect the policy had on women living in Sanctuary Scheme homes.
While the other case, brought by Paul and Sue Rutherford, involved the tax’s impact on seriously disabled children, like their grandson Warren, who needs overnight care.
In both cases it was argued that the policy, which came into force in April 2013, unlawfully discriminates against domestic violence victims and disabled children.
Judges heard that A’s former partner had previously raped, assaulted and threatened to kill her, but nevertheless she faced losing £11.65 a week from her benefits as the panic room was regarded as a spare room, and A was therefore under-occupying her house.
The Department of Work and Pensions – the body responsible for collecting the bedroom tax – argued that her appeal lacked credibility because she was eligible for discretionary housing payments (DHPs) through her local council.
Meanwhile, the Rutherfords live in a three-bedroom bungalow adapted for their disabled grandson’s special needs, with the couple in one room, Warren in another, and the third needed for carers staying overnight and to store equipment, such as his wheelchair.
The couple launched a judicial review over the regulations, which allow for an additional bedroom if the claimant or their partner require overnight care, but make no provision for children who need an overnight carer.
Their case was initially dismissed at the high court in 2014, when Mr Justice Stuart-Smith said a DHP made by Pembrokeshire county council would cover the rental shortfall until April 2015, and there was no evidence to suggest it would refuse to make up the shortfall in the future.
However the judge’s decision today overrules that initial judgement.
— Judicial Office (@JudiciaryUK) January 27, 2016
Paul Rutherford told the BBC:
I’m a bit lost for words. I could almost cry with happiness. Other people are going to benefit from this decision as well. That was partly why we did it.
The DWP have been given permission to appeal today’s decision.
A DWP spokesman said:
We fundamentally disagree with the court’s ruling on the European Court of Human Rights, which directly contradicts the High Court. We have already been granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.