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Campaigners vow to fight on after challenge to 'bedroom tax' is thrown out by High Court

Ruling widely condemned by charities and lawyers acting on behalf of ten disabled adults in social housing
  • @NigelpMorris

Campaigners have vowed to fight on after a legal attempt to block the Government's so-called “bedroom tax” was thrown out by the High Court.

The ruling was widely condemned by charities and lawyers acting on behalf of ten disabled people said they would appeal against the decision.

They brought the challenge on the grounds that the new regulations discriminated against them.

They argued that the disabled needed extra space, but the Court ruled that the controversial policy, which came into force in April, had not breached their human rights. Had the claimants been successful, the “bedroom tax” scheme would have been thrown into confusion.

Under the new “size criteria”, tenants in social housing who are deemed to have one spare bedroom have lost 14 per cent of their housing benefit entitlement, while those with two or more spare have lost 25 per cent.

Two High Court judges ruled that applying the cap to the disabled was based on “a reasonable foundation” and was lawful.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman welcomed the ruling and added: “Reform of housing benefit in the social sector is essential, so the taxpayer does not pay for people's extra bedrooms.”

But Richard Stein, from solicitors Leigh Day, said outside the court: “Our clients are bitterly disappointed with today's decision, but they are not defeated.

”We, along with the other lawyers acting on behalf of adults with disabilities, will appeal this judgment.“

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

He said: ”As a result of today's ruling, we are really concerned these families will now face a real struggle to meet their rent and may end up losing their home.“

David Orr, the chief executive of the National Housing Federation, described the situation as ”desperate“, with disabled people being forced to cut back on food and heating to keep their homes.

Despite the ruling, the Court also took a swipe at ministers, saying the Government had known since May 2012 that the law must be changed to provide for disabled children but failed to act early to implement the necessary regulations.

Lord Justice Laws, sitting with Mr Justice Cranston, said the current state of affairs ”cannot be allowed to continue“.