Disabled families have lost a court challenge to social housing benefit cuts for residents with spare bedrooms in England, Wales and Scotland. Lawyers for 10 families brought a judicial review over the lower payments for people in homes deemed too large. They argued in the High Court that the change, which was introduced in April, breached their clients’ human rights.
The court ruled it did not unlawfully discriminate against disabled people. The families plan to appeal. The families, all disabled or the parents of disabled children, had challenged the changes during a three-day hearing in May.
Who are the claimants ?
There are 10 claimants represented by three law firms. They are from various places including London, Stoke-on-Trent, Manchester and Birmingham. Here are the arguments of four of them:
Lawyers for one London family say they live in a damp, one-bedroom flat infested with mice. One son has autism, the other has Down’s Syndrome. The child with autism sleeps in the bedroom while his mother, father and brother sleep on the floor in the living room. Due to the changes, they say they cannot afford to move to the larger property authorities say they need.
Charlotte Carmichael has spina bifida and sleeps in a hospital bed which, she argues, her husband and full-time carer cannot share. He sleeps in their spare room as there is not enough space in hers for a second bed.
In 2011, six-year-old Isaac was assaulted by the then partner of his mother, leaving him traumatised. He and his mother were made homeless and assessed as needing three bedrooms because, solicitors say, of Isaac’s behavioural and mental issues.
His mother lost £15.52 a week on 1 April when the council judged they were under-occupying.
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. He contends there are no suitable two bedroom homes in the social sector.
Source: BBC NEWS
30th July 2013