David Cameron defends bedroom tax despite court ruling it unlawful and discriminatory

The Prime Minister defended the principle behind the policy

David Cameron has defended the so-called “bedroom tax” despite the Court of Appeal ruling the controversial policy unlawful and discriminatory.

The Prime Minister said he would look at the court’s judgement “carefully” but claimed the charge, which mainly hits disabled people living in social housing, was fair.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn asked Mr Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions whether he would “finally abandon” the “cruel” policy in light of the ruling.

But Mr Cameron defended the principle of the under-occupancy penalty and said scrapping it would be too expensive.

“We always look very carefully at the judgements on these occasions – but of course, our fundamental position is that it’s unfair to subsidise spare rooms in the social sector if you don’t subsidise them in the private sector where people are paying their housing benefit,” he said.

“That is a basic issue of fairness. Isn’t it interesting that the first pledge he makes is something which could cost as much as £2.5 billion in the next parliament? Who is going to pay for that?”

Judges ruled the policy unlawful following a legal challenge against the Government by a domestic violence victim and the family of a disabled teenager.

The charge, which takes the form of a reduction in housing support for people with more than a certain number of bedrooms, was introduced in April 2013 to encourage people to move out of homes they are "under occupying".

It has since been criticised for causing poverty, disproportionally affecting the disabled, and hitting people who have nowhere suitable to move to.

The Department for Work and Pensions said it would appeal the decision in the Supreme Court – the UK’s highest and final appellate court.

A DWP spokesman said the people found to have been discriminated against were in receipt of discretionary housing payment – payment provided by councils to cancel out the effects of the “bedroom tax”.

“We are pleased that the court found – once again – that we have complied with the Public Sector Equality Duty,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“We fundamentally disagree with the court’s ruling on the ECHR, which directly contradicts the High Court. We have already been granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

“We know there will be people who need extra support. That is why we are giving local authorities over £870m in extra funding over the next five years to help ensure people in difficult situations like these don’t lose out.”

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