Bedroom tax ruling ‘devastating news’ for disabled families

The High Court dismissal last week of a legal challenge to the “bedroom tax” will increase the risk of homelessness for disabled families and those with vulnerable children, Shelter has warned.

Lawyers acting on behalf of 10 claimants brought the case against the Department for Work and Pensions, supported by evidence from Shelter. The claimants argued that the bedroom tax unfairly discriminates against disabled people by failing to recognise their needs, and that it violates the Human Rights Act and the Equality Act.

The High Court ruled that the reduction of their housing benefit is legal, on the basis that the Government has made an extra pot of money available to local councils to help those affected by the penalties.

However, the claimants, along with Shelter, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Birmingham City Council, argued that this money (known as Discretionary Housing Payments, or DHP) is not enough to meet the need.

Shelter presented evidence to the Court highlighting that the Government’s plans to provide DHP in exceptional cases are not enough to prevent vulnerable people from falling into rent arrears and finding their home at risk.

Responding to the ruling, Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb said: “This ruling is devastating news for disabled adults and families with disabled or vulnerable children, who’ll be put at real risk of homelessness for having a bedroom they just can’t do without.

“Shelter gave extensive evidence to the Court based on our experience working with families affected, which showed that the Government’s current provision to support people in exceptional cases like these is inadequate. As a result of [today’s] ruling we’re really concerned that these families will now face a real struggle to meet their rent and may end up losing their homes.”

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