The coalition government’s controversial ‘bedroom tax’ housing policy is facing yet another legal challenge, the Welfare News Service has learnt.
Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) is representing Paul and Susan Rotherford, on behalf of their severely disabled grandson Warren, in a judicial review against the ‘bedroom tax, which CPAG argue unlawfully discriminates against disabled children who need overnight care.
Warren, 13, suffers from a rare degenerative disorder know as Potokoi-Shaffer Syndrome which cause highly severe cognitive and physical disabilities. Warren needs round the clock care from at least two people. He is currently cared for by his grandparents Paul and Susan but they themselves both suffer from disabilities and struggle to care for their grandson.
This has resulted in the grandparents being forced into hiring two carers to stay overnight to look after Warren at least twice per week.
The family lives in a specially adapted three-bedroom bungalow with Paul and Susan sharing one room and warren in his own room. The third bedroom is currently being used to allow Warren’s carer’s to stay overnight and also to store crucial equipment for Warren’s care needs.
Bedroom tax regulations currently allow for an additional bedroom where a social housing tenant, or their partner, “require overnight care”. This came about following an earlier ruling by the Court of Appeal in respect to Burnip vs Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
However, the provision does not extend to disabled children, CPAG say. The charity claims this discriminates against disabled children who need overnight care and is in contradiction to Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
CPAG argue there can be no justification for excluding disabled children from their overnight care needs and that these children and the families should be exempted from the government’s ‘bedroom tax’.
Without his carer’s Warren would have to be placed in residential care at ‘substantial extra cost to his local authority’, CPAG claim.
CPAG’s solicitor Michael Spencer said:
“Paul and Sue Rutherford work round the clock to care for their severely disabled grandson Warren. Without carers who can stay overnight they just wouldn’t be able to cope and Warren would have to go into care, at substantial cost to the taxpayer. It simply doesn’t make sense that the law allows an extra bedroom for adults who need overnight care, but not for disabled children.”
The hearing is scheduled to take place on 14 May 2014 with the verdict expected at a later date.