Government loses legal fight over bedroom tax

The Supreme Court has ruled against the Government’s attempts to force the bedroom tax on 155 partners of people with severe disabilities, in a decision that could have a wider impact on other welfare benefits.

A unanimous judgement delivered by the Court’s president, Lady Hale, ruled that applying a 14 per cent housing benefit reduction to a man, known only as RR, was a breach of his right to a home under the Human Rights Act.

RR’s partner is severely disabled so “it is accepted” that the couple need an extra bedroom for her medical equipment, Hale said. The couple are tenants of Sefton Council. Under the bedroom tax regulations, the couple were deemed to only require one bedroom.

The ruling will restore full housing benefit to RR and at least 155 other tenants, who are partners of disabled people and who were also subject to the bedroom tax before rules were changed in 2017. A spokesman for the Department for Work & Pensions said: “We are carefully considering this ruling.”

The case has potentially wider implications by bolstering the primacy of the Human Rights Act against any attempt to enforce secondary legislation, like the bedroom tax and potentially other welfare changes, where it can be shown that to do so would breach human rights.

By Patrick Mooney, Editor