Disabled families challenge ‘bedroom tax’ in High Court

Group says new rules on housing benefit breach human rights

Ten disabled people have taken the Government to the High Court claiming that Iain Duncan-Smith’s introduction of the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ is discriminatory and breaks human rights laws.

A spina biffida sufferer is among the group claiming that social housing tenants with disabilities have been unfairly included in the welfare benefits cut because they often require more space to cope with their health needs.

New housing benefit laws, which came into force last month, mean that social tenants deemed to have spare bedrooms will be given less money to cover their rent. Those with one ‘spare’ room receive 14 per cent less housing benefit and those deemed to have two or more spare, a reduction of 25 per cent.

But in a three-day hearing due to finish tomorrow, lawyers have argued that the charge is discriminatory for disabled people who require extra rooms because they are unable to share with a spouse or a sibling.

One family, which cannot be identified for legal reasons, was assessed as requiring three bedrooms because a six-year-old boy with behavioural and mental health issues is a danger to his sister in a shared room. But his mother has now been told she is under-occupying the family flat.

Among the claimants is Jacqueline Carmichael, 40, who has spina bifida and lives with her husband Jayson, 50, in a two-bedroom housing association flat in Southport.

The NHS provided her with an electronic bed to help her cope with being bed-bound, but the bed is single and there is no space in the room for another, so her husband has to sleep in a second room. Since 1 April, the Carmichaels have had their housing benefit reduced by 14 per cent.

Mr Carmichael said: “We’re badly off as it is because I’m a full time carer for Jacqueline. The flat is small – we have problems getting around it because the hall is so narrow, I can’t think how we’d fit into something smaller. David Cameron should go back to the drawing board.” Mrs Carmichael added: “We’ve had to cut back on spending already and I don’t know what else we can cut. I think the Government hasn’t thought this through; they’ve just made a blanket decision and they don’t care who suffers for it.”

The hearing, which forms a test case against the Department for Work and Pensions, will decide whether the new regulations breach Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects against discrimination. Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, is also accused of failing to comply with his public equality duty under the 2010 Equality Act.

Martin Westgate QC told Lord Justice Laws and Mr Justice Cranston: “Each of the claimants has a need, because of disability, to occupy accommodation larger than that which would be allowed to them under the size criteria.”

Paula Peters, 41, from Bromley, was one of several disability cuts protesters outside court. “In my area they’re already evicting people with disabilities,” she said. “I’ve got rheumatoid arthritis and bipolar and I’ve already been affected by the work capability assessment; these cuts are too much.”

A DWP spokesman said: “We are confident that these measures are lawful and they do not discriminate against disabled claimants or those with shared care of children.”

The DWP said it is giving councils an extra £25m for those affected by the removal of the spare-room subsidy to support disabled people who live in significantly adapted accommodation.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Development Manager (District Heating)

£55000 Per Annum plus company car and bonus scheme: The Green Recruitment Comp...

Lead Hand - QC

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Lead Hand - QCProgressive are recruiting...

Chemical Engineer/Project Coordinator

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Chemical Eng...

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn