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'Bedroom tax' defeat won't help the Tories

Protesters take part in a demo in London. Credit: PA

This ruling gives fresh ammunition to those who argue that the Tories are indeed the "nasty party" who don't show enough compassion for the weak and vulnerable amongst us.

Even those who see merit in the spare room subsidy policy – and there are plenty who do - would ask themselves how the Government could allow a political rout like this in the courts.

And over what?

For this case wasn’t about the spare room subsidy itself, but about who should be exempt from paying it.

Paul Rutherford and his disabled grandson Warren won a Court of Appeal challenge over 'bedroom tax'. Credit: PA

The amount of money at stake here was tiny in terms of the overall welfare savings the Government wants to make.

The numbers of people involved also minute.

There are already several groups who are exempt from payment – service men and women, disabled adults, foster parents and pensioners for example.

And all those who face financial hardship can ask for discretionary payments to help.

David Cameron is still defending 'bedroom tax' despite the ruling it is 'unlawful and discriminatory'. Credit: PA

The Government points out too that the spare room subsidy (as they call it) helps to ease the housing crisis by moving families stuck in too small accommodation to larger properties.

But still the policy remains THE most unpopular of the Government’s welfare reforms.

Controversial and unpopular from the start, the government has fought battle after battle since this policy was introduced in 2013.

The government says the 'bedroom tax' policy sheds £480 million of the housing benefit bill. Credit: PA

Again and again critics use what they call the "bedroom tax" to show that the Government’s welfare reforms hit the weak and vulnerable the hardest.

Again and again the Government respond that they do not.

Today though for their critics - won a victory in court that will resonate politically

There is a danger that the political damage will be disproportionate to the economic gain of the policy, and overshadow some of the more popular aspects of welfare reform.