Couple’s tribunal win adds weight to bedroom tax campaign


theweeksubA tribunal’s ruling that a disabled man and his wife do need to sleep in separate bedrooms has added fresh weight to the campaign to defeat the government’s so-called “bedroom tax”.

The couple’s local authority, Herefordshire council, decided last year that their housing benefit had to be cut because they were “under-occupying” their two-bedroom flat.

But Judge David Jackson, sitting in the first-tier tribunal, decided this week at a hearing in Hereford that the council’s decision should be over-turned because the couple needed to sleep in separate bedrooms, due to the husband’s impairment.

It follows a string of cases in which tribunals have over-turned the “bedroom tax” housing benefit decisions of local authorities.

From 1 April this year, tenants in social housing have been punished financially through the bedroom tax if they are assessed as “under-occupying” their homes.

Although the Herefordshire couple live in private rented accommodation, the problem they faced was identical to that experienced by disabled people hit by the bedroom tax, as similar rules already applied to those in private sector housing.

The judge said he was following a decision of the court of appeal, which ruled last year that the Department for Work and Pensions had breached the Human Rights Act by stopping local authorities from providing housing benefit for the extra bedrooms needed by four young disabled people in private rented accommodation.

He ruled that the housing benefit regulations were discriminating against the couple by failing to meet their need for two bedrooms, and he ordered the council to reassess their claim.

Herefordshire council has so far failed to comment.

10 October 2013