Croydon Borough Council ordered to pay blind self-employed Dr Yusuf Ali Osman £500 damages over 2022 Council Tax Reduction scheme
Blind self-employed Dr Yusuf Ali Osman has been awarded £500 damages from Croydon Borough Council over changes to its Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTR) in 2022.
Posted on 23 March 2023
Dr Osman, aged 43, of Croydon, was left facing a council tax bill of hundreds of pounds when in the years before 2022 he had been exempt from the charge.
In the High Court in London on Wednesday, Dr Osman, pictured, claimed that the changes to the CTR in 2022 were discriminatory to him as a blind self-employed person who was not able to earn the Minimum Income Floor (MIF) of £332.50 (minus tax and NI) per week. The Scheme inflates self-employed earners’ income to the MIF even if they are not able to achieve income anywhere near this level because of disability or caring responsibilities. This means their income in artificially higher than it actually is and their entitlement to council tax reduction is therefore lower.
Croydon Council’s 2022 changes to the CTR applied the MIF to several categories of people who were exempt from the MIF that applies under the Universal Credit scheme, from where the concept is borrowed. The MIF was applied to Dr Osman as someone with limited capability for work or work-related activity. Some pensioners, some disabled people, some carers, some students and some foster parents were also affected in a similar way.
Mr Justice Mostyn awarded Dr Osman the damages and costs that were agreed between Croydon Borough Council and Dr Osman’s legal representatives just before the hearing began.
Mr Justice Mostyn said that Croydon Borough Council had basically surrendered in that it no longer subjected disabled self-employed people to the MIF and, because of the steps taken by Dr Osman, he should be credited with that. He said Dr Osman had achieved success in his claim and that the legal challenge was very well argued by both sides.
Dr Osman’s case is the last that the judge has heard in the Administrative Court before he retires in July.
Only after Dr Osman launched his legal challenge to the council’s 2022 rules about the MIF and disability related income did Croydon Council decide to exempt him from council tax.
It has changed the scheme again for 2023 to free disabled people from the discriminatory provisions, but the scheme still affects other people who are not expected to be in full time work. They include people who care for people with disabilities or under-threes, pensioners with a working-age partner, recent adopters, many students and many foster parents.
While the 2023 scheme disregards some disability related income it still does not disregard other disability related component of ESA.
Dr Yusuf Osman said:
“It is no wonder that Croydon Borough Council is subject to yet another section 114 notice given that they spend money fighting legal challenges that do not have to be fought as a result of poorly designed schemes due to illegal clauses, incompetent drafting or implementation. Although the council have still not admitted any fault, the end of this story proves that there was fault.
“My fight over the past year has had a positive impact. At least 58 people other than me have had their Council tax decisions changed and most importantly the Council did change the scheme for disabled self-employed people like me.
“More broadly there are other councils doing similar things to Croydon and we must fight. Governments whether national or local cannot be allowed to treat any citizen in the way that Croydon has treated me over the last year.”
Dr Osman is represented by Leigh Day solicitor Kate Egerton, who said:
“Yusuf has been thoroughly vindicated in his legal campaign to challenge Croydon Borough Council over its discriminatory Council Tax Reduction Scheme and, as the judge said, he can be very proud of that.
“However, although the council has altered its Council Tax Reduction Scheme to address the discriminatory impact for self-employed people who have disabilities, it has still failed to address the disadvantage it has created for other groups of people who would be exempted from the Minimum Income Floor under Universal Credit regulations. These include carers and people with young children.
“Yusuf’s claim wasn’t able to challenge Croydon Brough Council on behalf of these categories of people, but the way is open for someone who is still affected to bring a judicial review challenge against the council.”
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