Human rights firm challenges ‘spare room’ tax on behalf of two disabled clients
22 February 2013
Law firm Leigh Day is taking legal action on behalf of two clients who are challenging the Government’s proposed ‘bedroom tax’. They claim that new housing benefit regulations, due to come into force on 1 April 2013, are discriminatory, as they will have a far greater ‘devastating’ impact on disabled people than on non-disabled recipients of the benefit.
In a letter before action sent to Ian Duncan-Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, on behalf of disabled clients Jacqueline Carmichael and Richard Rourke, the law firm has threatened the Government with a High Court challenge if the new regulations are not withdrawn.
The law firm is challenging new regulation B13 introduced into the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006, which will see a single person or a couple with no children having their housing benefit reduced by 14% where they occupy a two bedroom home and by 25% if they occupy a home with three or more bedrooms.
Leigh Day is arguing this will have serious impacts on disabled housing benefit claimants including their client Jacqueline Carmichael who lives with her husband in a two bedroom housing association flat.
Mrs Carmichael has spina bifida and is severely disabled. Mr Carmichael provides her with care throughout the day and night. Mrs Carmichael’s condition means that she has to sleep in a hospital bed with an electronic pressure mattress and has to sleep in a fixed position.
Mr Carmichael cannot sleep in this bed with her as it is not large enough for two people and his movements at night could cause harm. There is not enough space in her bedroom for a second bed so Mr Carmichael sleeps in a second bedroom.
Mr and Mrs Carmichael cannot afford to make up the 14% rent reduction, which will be imposed, from 1 April 2013.
Mr Rourke is a widower. He is disabled and uses a wheelchair. He is a council tenant and lives in a three-bedroom bungalow. His stepdaughter is also disabled with a rare form of muscular dystrophy, a degenerative condition that attacks the lungs, heart and muscles.
She is currently a university student in her first year of a two-year web design degree. She lives in halls of residence during term time but returns home for the full summer vacation, at holiday periods and at weekends when she can.
The third ‘bedroom’, as defined by the Government, in Mr Rourke’s home is a box room measuring 8 x 9 feet which he requires to store his equipment including a hoist for lifting him, his power chair and his shower seat.
Mr Rourke has enquired in the social rented sector about the availability of two bedroom properties, which are suitable for wheelchair use, and there are none. Mr Rourke cannot afford to make up the 14% rent reduction, which will be imposed, from 1 April 2013.
Ugo Hayter from the human rights team at Leigh Day said:
“This is a very poor piece of legislation which will have a devastating effect on our clients and many thousands of others. This change to housing benefit is causing great distress and uncertainty for the most vulnerable in society.
“If this legislation is not withdrawn we fully intend to take it to the High Court for a judicial review as we believe it is discriminatory.”
It’s about time the government were challenged over this. Any right minded person can see this poor family is going to be in dire straights if this Bedroom tax goes ahead. I would love to see how their local MP (if he’s a tory) can justify this. It’s one of the most cruellist acts any government has ever come up with.
i tom does the queen have to pay for all the bedrooms on the houses that the govement suply and we have to pay ant its about we started to look after ower old people and disabled thanks
i tom does the queen have to pay for all the bedrooms on the houses that the govement suply and we have to pay ant its time about we started to look after ower old people and disabled thanks
lets hope the law firm win the case, as the govt are determined they are not going to back down
DWP: bedroom tax will not be changed
Last week the works and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, asked officials at the department to “look again” at the how the policy will affect disabled people IDS was prompted into the move after the chief executives of seven charities wrote an open letter to himself and Chancellor George Osborne outlining their concerns about the impact the bedroom tax would have on disabled people and family members who may be caring for them.
However, the DWP has now announced that there will be U-turns on the plan
what is a room if the dividing walls of the rooms were put in to one would this not make one room
if to people live together is there a law that states they must sleep in the same room
can it not be the rooms are given to each person wife one room husband the other is they any law that makes people share the same room
the rick priminesterhas a bed room to him self or more likely 4roooms to him self
is there any other country who have social housing tax people on the rooms they have
and the goverment states it to make beter use of social housing yet privat lets are subject to the taxwhy this dose not free up council houses in fact it putting the burden on local housing as privat landlords are making people leave there flats due to this new law so more people will be looking for houses from local councils
when will the goverment start putting people in to these empty rooms the 50 plus people whos children have left i can see it now the goverment who want these big houses willbe placing people in these rooms in peoples houses wether thy like it or not
lprivat landlords have beeing doing it you get to rent the room no longer the house its comming our council will be over welmed by the amount of homelee people on the street but thats what goverment want on the street save on benefit
pods thats the way the goverment is going the people of this country have raised there kids to university workand for manyhaver being through divorse now these people cant get work or if they have work are told to move on to let the 16year olds have work
now they are no longer needed at 50 no longer wanted in work or in there community they spent years paying rent keeping there house council house in good order places to be happy in and now they have to go to pods till they die
you mum granny if they dont own there homes are on that list
Tory #BedroomTax is today challenged in a court of law as legal proceedings are launched.
There is a law a room must be over 70sq ft most box rooms ar 63ft square(9ft by7ft) to be classed as a bedroom
so much info & advice on this link
I was invited to attend a meeting last night, Committee members of tenant community groups had Collectively called it and requested Wirral Partnership Homes to attend, there was also several other wph tenants there as well, other tenants myself included mentioned the 50-69sqft size bedroom challange to the manager from WPH.
He stated that WPH had taken legal advice and that the 50-6sqft only applies to overcrowding, we all mentioned the 1985 housing act, to no avail, he kept insisting it only applies for overcrowding, I asked him how can the 1985 housing act state it is to small a room and the law would would only apply if I was overcrowded , but the same room would be a suitable size, because I am classed as under-occupied, what a load of bollicks, WPH must think us tenants are stupid, anyway, I am going to request to see a copy of the legal advice they got.
I also asked if they were going to follow in knowsleys footsteps and reclassify, the answer was no, i did not expect any other response from them, but it was worth a try
knowsley reclassed its propertys that are in negative equity, thus having no impact on its fianancial duties. This will not impact on its loans etc etc. To reclassify a 3 bedroom to a 2 bedroom would seriously impact on any loans or fianancial implications on current rents received. reduced rents will put a strain on HA’s loans. this is a vicious circle. NO HAWKERS or BEDROOM TAX SUPPORTERS…..
Find out how bedroom sizes relate to the size criteria and statutory overcrowding.
I am aware of a rumour circulating on facebook and elsewhere that bedrooms under 70 sq ft should not be counted for the purposes of the social housing size criteria for claimants of Universal Credit and Housing Benefit. This rumour is incorrect. It appears to be based on a misreading of the space standards set out in the Housing Act 1985 for the purpose of defining statutory overcrowding.
The UC/HB social housing size criteria depend on the number of bedrooms in the property, and for this purpose a room is either a bedroom or it is not. There is no such thing as a half-bedroom, or a bedroom deemed suitable for occupancy by one person but not two. In principle, the size criteria regard any room designated as a bedroom as being capable of accommodating a couple or two children (unless the children are of different sexes and one of them is over 10).
It has been suggested that requiring two persons to occupy a small bedroom might amount to statutory overcrowding under Part 10 of the Housing Act 1985. Section 326 of the 1985 Act requires that a room to be occupied by two persons should be at least 110 sq ft in area (10.22 sq m), but for this purpose children under ten count only as “half persons” and babies under the age of one are disregarded. The corresponding minimum sizes for 1.5 persons, 1 person, and 0.5 persons are respectively 90, 70, and 50 sq ft (8.36, 6.50, 4.65 sq m), room sizes that are fairly small by ordinary standards.
The room sizes in s326 of the 1985 Act are for the purpose of deciding whether the statutory space standard is met, for which purpose s326(2)(b) of the Act specifically states that “a room is available as sleeping accommodation if it is of a type normally used in the locality either as a living room or as a bedroom”.
The fact that the Act counts living rooms, not just bedrooms, as available for sleeping means that it is almost inconceivable that any social housing could be so fully occupied that the 1985 Act is breached, since even if a designated bedroom is smaller than the 1985 Act lays down, the Act contemplates that the occupant(s) could sleep in the living room instead.
There may sometimes be a legitimate question about whether a particular room should properly be designated as a bedroom, but this is a matter for landlords to determine.
oops mistake in my posting re meeting i attended, it should of said 50-69sqft,
Today’s Prime Minister Questions (PMQs) exposed Ed Miliband the leader of her majesty’s official opposition as not knowing about the bedroom tax and he missed a huge once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to expose that David Cameron doesn’t know his own bedroom tax policy.
If Ed Miliband knew his bedroom tax brief then the fight against the bedroom tax would have taken a huge step forward, but because he clearly didn’t he let David Cameron off the hook as Cameron misled parliament yet again with more, what must be known lies, about the bedroom tax.
Cameron said that disabled people are exempt from the bedroom tax and they are not and Ed Miliband through not knowing his brief failed to take him to task over this. Imagine the national news and attention that would have brought!! The Prime Minister, who like Miliband was prepared for the bedroom tax question, did and does not know his own policy, his own ‘stubborn mule’ of a policy that refuses to go away! It would have been headline news and would have severely undermined the bedroom tax policy…yet ignorant Ed missed that golden chance and revealed to 660,000 potential voters that he is incompetent!
READ FULL STORY http://speye.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/bedroom-tax-should-ed-miliband-should-resign-after-todays-pmqs/#comments
Just how low can this Government get? This is an outrage. The poll tax was the undoing of the Tories perhaps this one will be the same for this lot? Mind you what alternatives do we have waiting in the wings? What about an epetition?
Out of interest how would the Councils meet the demands for one bedroomed accommodation if people asked to move?
Very slowly. In the case of Swindon there are 644 households affected by the BT who qualify for a 1 bed property. The Council gave out 104 1 bed tenancies last year. So if nobody on the waiting list was given a tenancy it would take more than 6 years to accommodate the victims of the BT (just those who ‘qualify’ for 1 bed). If you add these people to those on the waiting list who ‘qualify’for 1 bed, there are more than 5,000 households chasing after these. That exludes those on the witing list deemed to be “in low need”. So it would take roughly 50 years to accommodate all these, but only if the waiting list was closed!
The housing act of 1985 states a bedroom under 50 square feet cannot be used as a bedroom. But yet they can charge you bedroom tax for this illegal unsuitable room. The government suggest you take in a lodger to meet the shortfall in benefits. But if you were to take a lodger into this size box room you could end up in court. A room as to be 70 sq foot for a lodger.
High-rise flats in Nottingham will be classified as one-bedroom, even those with two bedrooms, in preparation for changes to housing benefit.
The council tax on the worlds largest council house (BUCKINGHAM PALACE)is £1,375.01.my one bedroom semi bungalow is £1,150.02.am i paying to much.I would like to give none tax paying cameron a big thank you for the LOAF OF BREAD state pension rise.They should step aside and make way the new government in waiting THE UNITED KINGDOM INDEPENDENT PARTY.