21 March 2013 | By Samir Jeraj, Inside Housing
Human rights group Liberty is launching legal action against the government’s penalty for under-occupation of social housing.
The organisation said it will seek a judicial review as it believes the penalty, widely known as the ‘bedroom tax’, breaches the European Convention on Human Rights. Liberty said it will argue that the policy is discriminatory and would infringe on family life.
Under the penalty, which comes in from 1 April, working age social tenants on housing benefit will have their payments cut if they are deemed to have one or more spare bedrooms under the government’s size criteria.
Corinna Ferguson, legal officer for Liberty, said: ‘Why is a government that prides itself on prioritising families penalising people merely for having children?’
Liberty is representing three people whose families are affected by the changes:
Simon Cohen, from Gloucestershire, whose 12-year-old son lives with him four days a week in his two-bedroom house. Under the scheme his son will not be considered part of his household – his room will therefore be deemed ‘unoccupied’.
Mark Hutchinson, from Derbyshire, whose seven-year-old daughter and eight-year-old stepson reside with him at weekends and during school holidays.
Kim Cotton, from Hampshire, whose eleven-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son live with her every other week.
Ms Ferguson said that the penalty threatened thousands of shared care arrangements for children. ‘In no way can these loving parents be accused of “under-occupying” their properties or having “spare bedrooms” – these rooms are very much their children’s and home to many of their belongings.’
Earlier this month a separate challenge to the penalty was brought on behalf of 10 vulnerable and disabled children who will be affected by the policy. The High Court is expected to rule on whether this challenge can proceed within the next few days.
This is good, but I think we need to callenge the bedroom tax in principle. While it is desirable to defend family life and the lives of disabled people, we need to remember all of the others, who may not have children or be disabled, but who are still being penalised by this odious policy. We shouldn’t be competing with each other to determine who is the most unfortunate; we should be saying the BT is wrong in principle, no matter what your personal circumstances are.
Absolutely Amanda. We have to press for its repeal and demand Labour makes a public commitment that if elected they will quickly repeal it.
Well said Amanda, there are many other groups within the criteria, who are being forgotten about, disabled adults, unemployed single people,, middle age couples,, people in work in reciept of HB. The govt are excluding certain groups, rightly so, but the above groups will lose the publics support once the most vulnerable groups are excluded,, because the govt has stigmatized them as benefit scroungers. We all need to be united and fight this together, should be no divides, in all affected by the BT,
this bedroom tax violates your human rights, and your civil rights,and also breaks the law.the law says how much you need to live on,this is for your personal needs and not for paying rent or rates. they are breaking the human rights laws as this states that people out of work are entitled
to a decent standard of living, by social means if you are not working or on low wages. i myself wish to challenge this corrupt government on its policies people out of work are entitled to good quality education
and to quality training, the minimum wage you cannot live on nor can you live on benefits. if quality training was given people would willingly
take these up. i good go on, on other breaches of human rights. etc,
it is illegal forcing people on to job clubs, sanctions of benefits are unlawful, the job centres are breaking your human rights, and are committing blackmail, and if you are sanctioned they have effectively
closed down your claim. which in law is a criminal offence