Tenants lose their ‘spare bedroom tax’ appeal at the Court of Appeal

Five social housing tenants have lost their bid at the Court of Appeal to have the Government’s controversial ‘spare bedroom tax’ ruled as unlawful. The ruling was handed down on 21 February 2014. The Court upheld last year’s High Court ruling which stated the new Rules were not discriminatory.

Lawyers argued the Regulations introduced in April 2013 did not take into account the accommodation requirements of disabled residents. Further, claims made by two lone parents, who had argued the bedroom tax violates human rights laws and common law because of its impact on vulnerable families was also refused.

Ugo Hayter from law firm Leigh Day, representing two individuals in the legal challenge, said they “baffled” by the result. The court recognised that thousands of disabled people across the UK had a “need for accommodation not provided for by the new housing benefit rules, however the Court decided that disabled tenants should not have their housing needs met on an equivalent basis to their able-bodied counterparts just because they are disabled.”

The tenants are now considering whether to appeal to the Supreme Court. The National Housing Federation Head of Policy, Kevin Williamson, said the organisation is “deeply disappointed” with the outcome. He added “Many thousands have also had their homes adapted at great cost due to their disabilities. They are now being told they should move even though there are not enough smaller homes available – and any new home would also need adaptations paid for by taxpayers. This judgement does not change the fact that the bedroom tax is a flawed and unfair policy that won’t achieve what the government hopes it will. The only fair solution is to scrap the bedroom tax now.”

Critics against the tax argue it fails to accommodate the needs of disabled people who require an extra room and also caused stress and anxiety for these tenants.

The Department for work and pensions commented on the result by stating “Reform of housing benefit in the social sector is essential to ensure the long term sustainability of the benefit. But we have ensured extra discretionary housing support is available for vulnerable people.”

If you require further information please contact Aisha Akhtar, Solicitor in the Housing management & Leasehold Services Team on 020 8799 1884