Welfare Reform Update – “The High Court to decide”
On 22 May 2013, eight Claimants launched a judicial review challenging the £500 per week household benefit cap for couples and the £350 cap for single adults. They challenge Part 8A of the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006, which was inserted pursuant to section 96 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012. The Claimants argue that the regulations are discriminatory and unreasonable. They also argue that the Secretary of State did not take proper account of the impact of the policy on children, the disabled, women, the disabled, racial and religious minorities. They also argue that the policy did not take into account carers when it was formulated. The High Court granted permission for Judicial Review on the basis that the claims were clearly arguable and urgent.
In April 2013, the “bedroom tax” or “under occupation tax” was introduced, 14% cut to benefits for one spare bedroom in social housing accommodation and a 25% for two or more spare bedrooms. Ministers say their changes are legal and bring back fairness to the system.
On the 15th May 2013 a three day High Court case began involving ten Claimants. The challenge is that the regulation B13 of the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 discriminates against people requiring larger accommodation because of their disability. One of the Claimants housing benefit was reduced by 14% even though she has spinal bifida and must sleep in a special bed which means her husband needs to sleep in the second bedroom. The High Court decision is awaited.
Universal credit introduced
The Government has rolled out Universal Credit in one of its four planned pathfinder areas. Universal credits were introduced on 29 April 2013 in selected areas of Greater Manchester
Three of the four pilots (Wigan, Warrington, Oldham) have been postponed until July, and only the Tameside pilot launched on 29 April. Ashton-under-Lyne is the first Job Centre to take claims for Universal Credit on April 29. Claimants will be expected to make their claims online.
If you require further information please contact Aisha Akhtar, Solicitor in the Social Housing team on 020 8799 1884