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Disabled people who are set to be hit by the government’s controversial “bedroom tax” have won the right to an urgent judicial review of the new rules.

{EMBOT SUBSCRIPTION=5,6}Lawyers acting for the 10 individuals and families taking the legal action say that the changes – due to come into force on 1 April – will have a far greater impact on disabled people than non-disabled people.

They say the regulations breach the Equality Act and the Human Rights Act, as well as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The judicial review of the decision to cut housing benefit for those judged to be “over-occupying” their social housing will be heard in early May.  

Sue McCafferty, a member of the We are Spartacus grassroots network of disabled campaigners, said: “The policy and the legislation underpinning the ‘bedroom tax’ are fundamentally flawed and it was evident from the government’s own equality impact assessment that the regulations would have a disproportionate impact upon sick and disabled people.

“We are Spartacus are delighted that the flaws of this policy will be examined and, we hope, that the profound distress caused to those affected will soon be over.”

Ugo Hayter, from solicitors Leigh Day, who is representing two of the claimants, said: “This is an excellent result and the first step in over-ruling what we believe is an unfair piece of legislation which has disproportionate negative consequences for disabled people and is therefore discriminatory.”

The new regulation will see a working-age single person or a couple with no children in social housing having their housing benefit reduced by 14 per cent if they occupy a two-bedroom home and by 25 per cent if they occupy a home with three or more bedrooms.

The two claimants represented by Hayter, Jacqueline Carmichael and Richard Rourke, came forward as a result of work by We are Spartacus.

Carmichael lives in a two-bedroom housing association flat with her husband, her full-time carer, and has to sleep in a fixed position in a hospital bed with an electronic pressure mattress.

Her husband cannot share her bed for safety reasons, and there is no space in the room for a second bed, so he sleeps in the second bedroom.

The Carmichaels say they cannot afford the 14 per cent benefit reduction in their housing benefit.

Rourke, a wheelchair-user, lives in a three-bedroom bungalow, with substantial adaptations.

He has a disabled daughter, also a wheelchair-user, who is studying at university but returns home for holidays, and often at weekends. The third bedroom is a tiny box-room used to store mobility and care equipment.

Rourke cannot move home because there is no wheelchair-accessible, two-bedroom social housing available. If forced to move, he risks losing access to his support network.

National Housing Federation figures released earlier this month showed that 230,000 disability living allowance (DLA) claimants would lose an average of £728 per year in housing benefit as a result of the new regulation.

Even if all the extra £30 million funding allocated by the government to help foster carers and disabled people in adapted properties was given to DLA claimants hit by the tax, they would each receive just £2.51 per week, compared with an average £14 a week loss.

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

Comments  

#10 Dmac 2013-09-21 23:37
Hi there,
Can councils count DLA as income when assessing the bedroom tax
#9 timmyjohnanners 2013-04-15 12:58
there is alot more info on the espye website. free.
+1 #8 marynumberthree 2013-04-12 12:18
We bought 50% of a housing association bungalow for the over 55's. I have MS. We have two bedrooms but would have to sell up and look for another one bed property to avoid this tax. I also sleep in a separate bed from my husband sometimes as I have problems with sleep generally and pain/nocturia. We thought we had budgeted well for our future when we bought our 50% share as we still pay rent on the other 50% but apparently not. Selling these bunaglows is difficult as there is only a certain age group they appeal to. Also we have installed new kitchen and bathroom and boiler and radiators expecting, having bout 50%, to stay here until we die.If we sell se have completely renovated this bungalow for someone else. Anyone else in this position? MARY, Sheffield
+1 #7 Clare Fernyhough 2013-04-12 12:01
Due to having to pay increased care costs when I finished working, the care cuts last year that meant I had to pay additional private care costs, and the bedroom tax, I'm £460 every 4 weeks worse off.

I can barely walk at the moment. Last week me left knee joint locked completely (all joints have doing this due to muscle wastage) and now I can't get around the house. I need a wheeling frame ideally, but due to paying back All of my DLA and part of my severe disablement allowance, I now have no spare money to pay for disability equipment and the maintenance of that.

My washer is on its way out along with other items. I haven't any money left for transport so I'm mostly housebound. I could get a grant for equipment, but you need a referral from a social worker or an OC, and it takes ages to obtain an appointment.

What am I supposed to do meantime. I can't crawl as that's too painful. I can't put pressure on the opposite side due to hip and knee problems. I can't use my arms to lean on things.

This is what people like me are suffering.
+2 #6 phil4u 2013-04-12 01:33
What hapened to the statment that (this is the amount of money the LAW sais you need to live on) . If that is true then nobody should be able to take any money of anyone Benefits as thay would then be breacking thare own LAW ?? Sorry about this blurt But this is a serious Question .sorry about the spelling yours Phil
+4 #5 gmaryh 2013-04-10 13:08
What concerns me is that all the legal challenges are about why the so called spare bedroom is needed. This certainly needs challenging as it clearly does breach many disability laws. But I think there also needs to be a challenge regarding the FACT that it is preposterous to define what accommodation is suitable for a Disabled Claimant based SOLEY on the number of rooms in a property.
+4 #4 vivanti 2013-04-10 11:17
I am appalled at the way our current politicians of all parties, based on 'Thatcherite Greed', are so willing to attack the Poor, Weak and Disabled in our society. It beggar's belief that we are supposed to be one of the richest countries in the world and yet our so-called 'elected leaders' can impose horrendous stress on these people - For What - so that the rich can get richer ?
I sincerely hope that this legal challenge succeeds !!!

Whoops - forgot to say that I am also Disabled, have lived with constant serious pain since 1987 when I broke my neck severely and will, later this year, accept my Government Pension (for what it's now worth) and will hopefully never have to suffer from the idiots at ATOS ever again !!!
+3 #3 timmyjohnanners 2013-04-10 10:33
It is so unfair this bedroom tax....10 MILLION YES 10 million pounds are to be spent on thatchers state funeral. With no contribution from her family. yet we are being victimized by this government and plunged into poverty because "we all must pay for the deficit" as "we're all in this together". May i suggest That, like me when my time comes, mrs T should be placed in a coffin, and her family attend a simple service to say good bye!! total cost? around 2 grand.
On the subject of bedroom tax, may i direct members to a the espye website, which is full of information on how to contest the bedroom tax. members should note that all the information is free. advice is relevent, like, THERE IS NO LEGAL DEFINITION OF A BEDROOM. I hope members find this website helpful.
-1 #2 Angelica 2013-04-10 01:44
Maybe we will all soon find out who of us are the real benefit thieves, and justice will be served!
+10 #1 Meg3 2013-04-03 23:15
Although this is a very distressing time for all involved. I am really pleased that more and more are letting there stories be told and that solicitors have listened and prepard to tae cases forward and challange the Goverment over this unfair tax of the most vulnrable in scociety. Lets hope as more and more solicitors and campain groups win there cases that the Goverment will have to re-think the most damaging changes to the welfare syste.
I think it is about time those in goverment take a long look in the mirror at themselves, as they are the ones who claim the largest preportion for their second homes and mp`s expences, as they quite happily sit there claim from the tax payers purse for their second homes and furnishings, and other Mp expences, they are prepard to hit the most vulnrable in society, why they swan around in their fully paid for second homes, lets start putting them in one bedroom accomadation or taxing them on the size of the property or number of bedrooms and in some cases swimming pools, after all they do not need lavish homes near London paid for by the tax payers purse.

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