'Bedroom tax' legal challenge

Opponents of the Government's plans to withhold benefits from some social housing tenants, deemed to have spare rooms, are today launching a legal challenge against the so-called 'bedroom tax'.

High Court challenge over 'bedroom tax'

A disabled couple have gone to the High Court to take legal action against the Government's so-called bedroom tax.

They claim that the new housing benefit regulations coming in next month are discriminatory.

As part of welfare reforms, people in social housing will see their benefit cut if they have a spare bedroom.

Sejal Karia reports:

Duncan-Smith on why 'there is no bedroom tax'

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith recently insisted "There is no bedroom tax' during an appearance on BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show.

He explained: "This is about under-occupancy, let's be very clear about what this is about. We have in social sector housing, a very large number of people in houses where they have many more bedrooms than they actually need.

"Something like a million spare bedrooms are sitting around. Meanwhile, there are a quarter of a million people in overcrowding and a million people on the waiting list trying to get into housing."

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive

Mr Duncan-Smith said the government wants people who are under occupying their homes to move to smaller properties or pay more.

"What we're saying to them is you can stay where you are, but if you do you'll have to pay more. Exactly the same people in the same criteria who rent under in the private sector and get housing benefit are not allowed to have extra bedrooms".

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Couple will struggle to pay because of 'bedroom tax'

Lisa and Brett live in a two bedroom house in Essex, Lisa has cerebral palsy and Brett is her partner as well as her full-time carer.

Lisa's condition gives her spasms, causing her to move around a lot in the night, because of this Brett sleeps in the spare room 90 per cent of the time.

Lisa and Brett say they cannot downsize Credit: ITV News

Under new Government proposals, from April, if you live in social housing and have a spare bedroom, you will have to either downsize or face a cut in your benefits.

Because Lisa and Brett are a couple, they are expected to share a room, losing £80 a month.

The pair say they will struggle, because they cannot downsize.

Read more on Lisa and Brett's story.

Foster carer to lose £80 a month from 'bedroom tax'

Foster carer Hayley Woods has been looking after children for seven years, in her three bedroom house in Oldham, Lancashire.

She currently has a ten-year-old child in her care, with a spare bedroom ready to take on another.

Foster carer Hayley Woods Credit: ITV News

Under the so called 'bedroom tax' policy, her bedrooms will be deemed empty, even though they may have children in them.

She stands to lose around £80 month, and says many foster carers she knows have said they will stop fostering.

Read more on Hayley's story.

Cameron will review 'any individual case'

David Cameron has promised to review "any individual case" relating to the so-called 'bedroom tax'.

Legal action will be launched against the plans today, which could see housing benefit payments reduced for tenants in council or housing association properties with empty bedrooms.

David Cameron speaking at PM's questions where he was grilled over the 'bedroom tax' Credit: PA Wire

Under the new rules, all working-age tenants in receipt of housing benefit will be affected by the charge - 14 per cent for one unoccupied room, 25 per cent for two.

The charge would apply, irrespective of whether the room is occupied on a part time basis, such as a couple who use their spare bedroom if one of them is recovering from an illness or operation.

'Bedroom tax': Who will it affect?

The 'bedroom tax' will affect around 660,000 social housing tenants across the country:

  • Separated parents who share the care of their children and may have been allocated an extra bedroom to reflect this. Benefit rules mean that there must be a designated ‘main carer’ for children (who receives the extra benefit)

Source: The National Housing Federation

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