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Bedroom Tax to be challenged in the Court of Appeal

Lawyers are granted permission to take the Government's 'Bedroom Tax' to the Court of Appeal

The Royal Courts of Justice

26 September 2013

 Lawyers representing adults and children with disabilities who are challenging the Government’s ‘Bedroom Tax’ have been granted permission to take their fight to the Court of Appeal after losing their High Court challenge in July this year.

The permission granted yesterday (25th September 2013) will allow for the Government’s controversial new housing benefit regulations to once again be challenged in a Court of Law.

Giving his reasons for granting an appeal hearing, the Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Aikens said that the cases “…raise issues of public importance concerning the amended housing benefit scheme and the needs of disabled/ young people and so should be considered by the Court of Appeal.”

Justice Aikens continued: “Further, the points raised in the grounds of appeal and the proposed ‘skeleton’ argument have a reasonable prospect of success…”

Since 1 April 2013, persons deemed to have 1 spare bedroom have had their housing benefit reduced by 14% and persons deemed to have 2, or more, spare bedrooms have had their housing benefit reduced by 25%. 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 they are discriminatory, however the July hearing decided that the discrimination was justified and therefore lawful – apart from in cases of disabled children unable to share a bedroom because of their disabilities.

However the 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 today said that they believe this cannot be right. They should be entitled to full Housing Benefit for the accommodation they actually need.

Lawyers for adults with disabilities will now go to the Court of Appeal, arguing that the discriminatory impact of the measure on people with disabilities cannot be justified and is unlawful.

Lawyers for disabled children and their families will also appeal the earlier ruling as they are now left in a position where they are currently not entitled to full housing benefit and do not know whether in fact they will be so entitled to full housing benefit in the future, to meet the costs of the homes that they need. This is because the Government has declined to confirm that the new Regulations, which the Court says must be made, will cover their situations, or to provide a date by which the new Regulations will be made, thus leaving the families subject to the bedroom tax in the interim.

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.

Ugo Hayter a lawyer from Leigh Day who is representing two cases of adults with disabilities said: “We are extremely pleased to be able to take our fight to the Court of Appeal, we remain confident that this unfair, and we believe unlawful, bedroom tax will be repealed.”

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