The government could be forced to make changes to its controversial bedroom tax policy following a Court of Appeal ruling this week. On Tuesday the court found that housing benefit rules for private rented tenants discriminate against disabled people, after three claimants challenged the Department for Work and Pensions.

The Housing Benefit Regulations 2006, which restrict local housing allowance according to property size, were found to be discriminatory because they do not allow benefit to be paid for an extra room where two children cannot share because of disabilities, the court ruled. This means the government, barring a costly appeal to the Supreme Court or amendments to the Welfare Reform Act, will have to alter the regulations or make more funding available to remove the discrimination.

Lawyers said the decision will affect the government’s regulations to prevent under-occupation in the social housing sector, which are based on those for the private rented sector. The policy, which will take effect from next April, will see under-occupying social tenants of working age docked £14 a week for a spare room and £25 a week for two spare rooms.

Sam Lister, policy and practice officer at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said he did not expect the ruling to affect large numbers of tenants, but that it could cost the government ‘tens of millions’ of pounds out of the £500 million [a year] it expects to save from the policy.

Source: Inside Housing


18th May 2012


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