Court Date Set For Judicial Review Of Sandwell Council’s Housing Benefit Assessment

Disabled Couple ‘Stuck In ‘No-Win Situation Due To Bedroom Tax’

13.08.2014

Lawyers acting for a disabled couple left in a “no-win situation” due to Sandwell Council’s policy of taking disability benefits into account when assessing eligibility for housing support have been given a court date for a legal challenge on the issue.

The judicial review into the local authority’s decision to take into account the care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) as income when assessing whether vulnerable people should also receive Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) has been listed to take place at the Administrative Court in Birmingham on 31 October 2014.

Ken Butler, Welfare Rights Advisor for Disability Rights UK, said “The National Housing Federation states that more than three-quarters (77%) of people claiming Disability Living Allowance choose to live in the social sector as it provides the additional space and security that they need .

“The government has exempted DLA recipients from the household benefit cap in recognition of the additional financial costs that can arise from disability and that disabled people will have less scope to alter their spending patterns or reduce their housing costs. We consider that the same principle should be applied to DLA claimants who are expected to be hit by the Bedroom Tax”.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Public Law team, which is representing the couple affected by this issue, are arguing that the policy essentially amounts to both discrimination and a breach of human rights law.

Fiona McGhie, the legal expert at Irwin Mitchell who is acting for the couple, said the final decision could have wider consequences in terms of providing clarity as to how local authorities across England and Wales can assess eligibility for DHP.

Expert Opinion
Our clients have lived in their current property for nearly 20 years but, like many other families, they have seen their housing benefit reduced due to having a spare bedroom – an issue referred to widely as the bedroom tax.

"While they would be happy to move to a small property in order to offset this, the lack of such suitable accommodation means they are unable to and therefore need to apply for a DHP to be able to afford to live in their home.”

"We have long-believed this issue is simply a no-win situation – our clients get a small amount of DHP due to receiving the care component of DLA, and therefore have to use the latter to meet costs which in theory should be met by the former. They are also unable to get out of this situation, as no alternative accommodation is available.

"We are now hard at work preparing for the hearing in October and are determined to ensure the voices of our clients, and others affected by this issue in other areas, are heard on this vital issue."
Fiona McGhie, Associate