Resident's 'Bedroom Tax' victory

A blind man has won his legal case against Westminster Council, which ruled he should pay more for his second bedroom. But his solicitors maintained he uses the room for storing equipment.

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Resident's bedroom tax victory

When is a bedroom, not a bedroom? Well according to the law, when it is being used for storage.

Why does it matter? Well it matters to anyone hit by the government's so-called Bedroom Tax.

In the first case of its kind in England, Londoner Surinder Lall's lawyers argued his spare bedroom was actually being used to store vital equipment to help with his disabilty, arguing his full housing benefit should be reinstated. He won.

Our Political Correspondent Simon Harris reports.


Bedroom 'is a misnomer'

Surinder Lall appealed against Westminster Council's reduction of his Housing Benefit, saying he relies on the equipment in his bedroom to lead a normal life. As the sole occupant of his housing association flat in Maida Vale, he was about to have his Housing Benefit cut by £12 a week.

He says:

"It enables me to function independently...."It's a misnomer to call it a bedroom, it's a room that is used for my equipment."

Number of bedrooms 'up to landlords'

Westminster Council has emphasised responsibility lies with a landlord to specify how many bedrooms a property has, not the council.

“Westminster Council reduced Mr Lall’s housing benefit on the grounds his landlord described the property as having two bedrooms - under national regulations, it is up to the landlord to list the number of bedrooms in a property, not the government or the local authority.

“The housing association changed its assessment shortly before the tribunal case which supported Mr Lall’s argument that the additional room was not a bedroom, but a space to store equipment needed by a disabled person.

– Westminster City Council

Westminster Council spokesperson went on to say representatives have been working to find a solution:

“The council had previously invited Mr Lall to apply for a discretionary housing payment to make up the shortfall from the loss of housing benefit stemming from a second bedroom, but he turned this down.

” Westminster Council has a number of measures in place to help those who may be affected by welfare reform, including specialist advisors.”

– Westminster City Council

Spare room subsidy: Key facts and figures

  • The Government says the so-called 'bedroom tax' will save £500 million off the benefit bill every year.
  • In London, it affects 80, 000 households, two thirds of which are disabled occupants.
  • It's a fixed percentage of the Housing Benefit eligible rent. This is set at 14% for one extra bedroom and 25% for two or more.
  • Those affected will lose £14 a week on average.
  • Housing association tenants lose an average of £16 a week.


What is 'Bedroom Tax'?

  • Welfare reforms have cut the amount of benefit that people can get if they are deemed to have a spare bedroom in their council house.
  • It restricts housing benefit to allow for one bedroom for each person or couple living as part of the household.
  • 80, 000 are affected in London.

Victory in 'Bedroom Tax' battle

A blind man has won his case against Westminster Council after he was told he'd have to pay more for his second bedroom. In a landmark victory, a judge has now ruled in his favour, after he maintained the second bedroom is only used to store necessary equipment for his condition.

Residential housing in London Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
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