16 January 2014
Lawyers representing adults with disabilities will go to the Court of Appeal on 20th January for a 3 day hearing to challenge last year’s High Court ruling that the implementation of the Government’s controversial new housing benefit regulations is lawful.
Since 1 April 2013, people in the social rented sector deemed to have 1 spare bedroom have had their housing benefit reduced by 14% and people deemed to have 2, or more, spare bedrooms have had their housing benefit reduced by 25%.
This is the case even when their disability means they cannot move to smaller accommodation or they need the extra space. In July 2013, 10 claimants represented by 3 law firms, all argued that these new Housing Benefit rules discriminate against people with disabilities.
The High Court accepted that the Rules are discriminatory and decided that for disabled adults the discrimination was justified and therefore lawful. The same did not apply to disabled children unable to share a bedroom because of their disabilities.
Following the court’s ruling the Government has had to introduce new regulations exempting households from the housing benefit reduction where children are unable to share a room because of their disability.
The High Court held that discrimination against adults with disabilities, even those in the same situation to children with disabilities who could not share a room, was justified.
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.
Since the new housing legislation was introduced it has had a devastating effect on many people across the country. Charities, Social Landlords and Advice Agencies have spoken out about the plight of people with disabilities who have been affected by the measure.
Two law firms, Leigh Day and Public Law Solicitors, will represent those adults with disabilities challenging the legislation in the Court of Appeal.
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.”
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