Pembrokeshire family win 'bedroom tax' court ruling

November 9, 2016   News

BBC | Disability News | Source

A family have won a court ruling after the UK Government cut their housing benefit over a spare bedroom used by their grandson's carers.

Image:Paul Rutherford, who cares for his grandson Warren, claimed the measure was discriminatory

Judges dismissed a government appeal against a Court of Appeal ruling in favour of Paul and Susan Rutherford, who care for their grandson Warren.

The Supreme Court ruled the housing benefit cut discriminated against them.

Mr Rutherford, of Clunderwen, Pembrokeshire, said: "We are happy and hugely relieved with today's result."

The Rutherfords argued the room was essential because it was used by carers who look after Warren overnight and said the £14 a week reduction to their benefits was unlawful.

Warren suffers from a rare genetic disorder which means he is unable to walk or talk and cannot feed himself and needs 24-hour care.

In the same hearing, Jacqueline Carmichael, from Southport, Merseyside, who has spina bifida, won a similar ruling.

Judges unanimously ruled "the scheme in relation to her is discriminatory".

However, judges rejected the cases of five others who have had their housing benefit reduced as a result of the government's changes.

A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesman said: "In the two specific cases where the court did not find in our favour, we will take steps to ensure we comply with the judgement in due course."

Sophie Earnshaw from the legal team at Child Poverty Action Group, which acted for the Rutherfords, said: "In this case, disabled children were being treated worse than adults.

"For Paul and Susan Rutherford, the judgment lifts an enormous burden of uncertainty about their grandson's future - an uncertainty they've had to live with since 2013 when the legal process started."

Mr Rutherford added: "It has been an extremely stressful and long three years and we are glad that it is has come to a close.

"We never imagined this would happen to us - our priority has always been Warren's happiness. We can now move on with our lives secure in the knowledge that we can continue to care for Warren at home."

Those who had their cases dismissed were:

  • Richard Rourke, 49, from Bakestone Moor, Derbyshire, who said he needed an additional bedroom to store mobility equipment. He had his housing benefit reduced by 25%
  • James Daly, from Stoke, the father of a severely-disabled teenage son. He and his ex-partner share the boy's care
  • Mervyn Drage, from Manchester, occupies a three-bedroom flat in a high-rise tower block and has lived there for 19 years. He suffers from mental health and physical problems
  • A woman identified as "A" who had a council house fitted with a panic room to protect her from a violent partner
  • Plus another case made by an appellant known as "JD" who remains anonymous for legal reasons