The Court of Appeal has ruled that the government’s removal of the so-called “spare room subsidy” unlawfully discriminates against a domestic violence victim and family of severely disabled 15-year-old boy.
In April 2013, the government reduced benefits for social housing tenants deemed to have a “spare” room by 14% in a cost-cutting measure known as the “bedroom tax”.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) argued that councils had been given funds to make discretionary payments to those facing additional hardship because of the new law.
However, in their ruling, Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, Lord Justice Tomlinson and Lord Justice Vos found that the bedroom tax unlawfully discriminated against those in the position of the appellants on the grounds of sex and disability.
The ruling will have a narrow application, but should benefit the estimated 300 victims of domestic violence who have specially adapted accommodation, and the families of thousands of severely disabled children.
The DWP said the government “fundamentally” disagreed with the court’s ruling, and would appeal to the Supreme Court.
Shadow work and pensions secretary, Owen Smith said:
“This victory in the Court of Appeal is a massive blow to the Tories’ Bedroom Tax. It provides a glimmer of hope for the hundreds of thousands of people who have been hit by this cruel policy.
“Labour has long argued that the Bedroom Tax is deeply unfair and discriminatory, which is why we have campaigned so hard against it. Surely the time has now come for the Tories to discover a conscience, listen to the courts as well as the public, and scrap the hated Bedroom Tax.”