DISABLED children and adults are challenging the legality of the coalition government’s ‘bedroom tax’ and have won the right to take their cases to the Court of Appeal.
The ‘bedroom tax’ came into force in April and means that families and single people living in social housing who have ‘too many rooms’ have their housing benefit cut.
The future of the ‘bedroom tax’ has been challenged after it emerged that a third of tenants have fallen into rent arrears since its introduction.
The appeal, put forward by ten adults and children with disabilities which is now to be heard, is against a High Court ruling in July that upheld the legality of the benefit changes.
The Tory government claims that the introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’ will save it £500m.
The cases of the ten adults and children illustrate the serious impact of the regulations on disabled people up and down the country in social housing, with opponents saying the changes unlawfully discriminate against vulnerable people.
Under new ‘size criteria’, tenants with one spare bedroom have had their housing benefit slashed by 14% and those deemed to have two or more spare rooms, have it slashed by 25%.
Ugo Hayter, a lawyer from legal firm Leigh Day, who is representing two cases of adults with disabilities, said: ‘We are extremely pleased to be able to take our fight to the Court of Appeal.
‘We remain confident that this unfair – and we believe unlawful – bedroom tax will be repealed.’
Disabled people often require an extra room for occasions when a carer may have to stay.
A housing association tenant, Surinder Lall, struck a blow against the bedroom tax yesterday, when he won an appeal in which he successfully argued that his ‘extra bedroom’ was in fact a room where he kept special equipment to help him live a normal life because he is blind.
The judge wrote: ‘The term “bedroom” is nowhere defined (in the relevant regulations). I apply the ordinary English meaning. The room in question cannot be so defined.’
Around 80,000 London households are affected by the bedroom tax, of which more than 50,000 comprise or include disabled people.
Meanwhile, the percentage of single mothers who have been driven into work has risen from 43% to 60% according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Changes to child benefit and a cap on housing benefit introduced into a number of London boroughs have also played a role in driving them into work.
ONS said: ‘The rise in women in employment is partly due to an increase in the percentage of mothers in work.
‘In 1996 (when comparable records began), 67% of married or cohabiting mothers with dependent children were in work and by 2013 this had increased to 72%.
‘There has also been an increase in the lone mothers’ employment rate from 43% to 60% over the same period.