Legal Challenge On Sandwell Council’s DHP Policy Brought By Couple Affected By Bedroom Tax To Be Heard This Week

Judicial Review Taking Place In Birmingham on 31st October


A legal challenge regarding Sandwell Council’s policy of taking disability benefits into account when assessing whether vulnerable people are eligible for housing support is to be held this week.

Specialist public lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are representing a disabled couple left in a “no-win situation” as a result of the local authority’s policy of considering the care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) as income when assessing whether vulnerable people should also receive Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP).

A judicial review into the policy is being held at the Administrative Court in Birmingham on 31st October, where Irwin Mitchell’s Public Law team are arguing that it amounts to both discrimination and a breach of human rights.

It is thought that hundreds of other people across the country could be affected by similar policies used by other local authorities.

Expert Opinion
Changes introduced to housing benefits last year mean those with a spare bedroom receive a smaller amount of Housing Benefit – with this being widely referred to as the ‘bedroom tax’.

"Our clients have been left in a very difficult position by this, as they now need to apply for a DHP in order to tackle the shortfall they now face between their benefits and outgoings.

"However, many local authorities like Sandwell have taken the step of taking into account the care component of DLA when considering if people like our clients can afford to meet their housing costs. We believe that this is unlawful and are determined to ensure the voices of our clients are heard on this matter."
Fiona McGhie, Solicitor

Irwin Mitchell’s clients are a disabled couple who have lived in their property for around 20 years, but have seen their Housing Benefit reduced due to them having a spare bedroom. With no alternative accommodation available to them, they have to apply for DHP to afford to get by in their current property. A lack of alternative housing also means they are locked into this scenario.

Irwin Mitchell is challenging the policy on the grounds of that it amounts to disability discrimination and a breach of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, arguing that it is not for local authorities to determine how a person spends their disability related benefits.