OUTSIDE the High Court in London yesterday, lawyer Richard Stein said: ‘We, along with the other lawyers acting on behalf of adults with disabilities, will appeal this latest judgement.’
Stein was explaining that the High Court had ruled that the government was acting lawfully in imposing its bedroom tax on disabled families, and declared that this was ‘a travesty of justice’ as benefits have been cut as a result.
He added: ‘We remain confident that the discrimination which was recognised by the court and which has been perpetrated against our clients by this legislation, is not justified and is unlawful.’
Stein, of law firm Leigh Day which is representing two of the ten families who took yesterday’s action, said his clients were ‘bitterly disappointed’ by the decision, ‘but they are not defeated’.
He continued: ‘We welcome the decision by the courts to find the families of children with disabilities must be awarded housing benefit for the number of rooms they actually need.
‘The government must now introduce regulation to this effect.
‘We argue strongly that this same provision should be in place for families who need extra living space for an adult with disabilities.
‘Many people are suffering great mental and physical torment through the imposition of these welfare reforms. The need for resolution is urgent.
‘The government’s attempts to pass the buck to local authorities to deal with the unfairness and discrimination of the bedroom tax, using discretionary housing payments, is not acceptable.
‘The amount of money provided by the government to these payments is nowhere near adequate to prevent large numbers of disabled people losing their homes.
‘One of our clients with disabilities is currently facing eviction due to the fact he can no longer pay his rent.
‘There can be no doubt that this legislation targets and penalises the most vulnerable in society and we believe we will ultimately have it overturned by a court of appeal.’
Ten families brought yesterday’s case, but the High Court ruled that the bedroom tax, which was introduced in April, did not breach their human rights.
Charlotte Carmichael, who has spina bifida and sleeps in a hospital bed which, she argues, her husband and full-time carer cannot share, said that she felt obliged to pursue the case.
Jason, her husband, added: ‘This is our way of life we’re defending. We’ll keep appealing and take it all the way we can.’
A wheelchair user living in a three-bedroom bungalow shared with his stepdaughter, who has a rare form of muscular dystrophy, says he needs a third bedroom to store equipment including a hoist for lifting him.
Eileen Short, from Defend Council Housing, said: ‘We’re angry, but more determined than ever.
‘If the court says that something is discriminatory against disabled people, and two-thirds of people hit by the bedroom tax have a disabled person in their household, and if it’s discriminatory but not illegal, where does that leave British law? – that it’s alright to penalise and attack the most vulnerable people, people that are sick and disabled – that can’t be acceptable.’
She added: ‘The answer is to cut rents not benefits and to build the homes that people need. We have a right to be secure in our homes and we are going to force the government on this.
‘Already, up to 80% of people are not paying the bedroom tax because they haven’t got the money. We will fight any evictions.’