The grandparents of a severely disabled child have won the right to fight their case against the bedroom tax at the Court of Appeal.
Paul and Sue Rutherford say the bedroom tax discriminates against severely disabled children who require overnight care.
Warren,15, suffers from a rare genetic disorder which causes severe cognitive and physical disabilities. This results in Warren requiring 24 hour care by at least two people.
His grandparents also suffer from disabilities and struggle to provide the vital care Warren requires and need help from paid carers, who regularly stay overnight in the families 3-bedroom bungalow.
Paul and Sue stay in one bedroom, while Warren sleeps in a specially adapted bedroom. The third bedroom is used by a carer and to store crucial equipment for Warren’s care needs.
A solicitor acting on behalf of the family says that without the support of an overnight carer, Warren would have to go into residential care – at substantial extra cost to his local authority.
It is also argued that the bedroom tax discriminate against disabled children, contrary to Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Conventions on the Rights of Disabled People and Children.
Bedroom tax regulations allow for an additional bedroom if the claimant or their partner “require overnight care”, following the decision in a previous case, but there is no provision for children who need an overnight carer.
The Court ruled that the Rutherford family, who appeared on the BBC documentary ‘Saints and Scroungers’, should have their appeal heard before the end of the year.
The family will be represented by the Child Poverty Action Group, Richard Drabble QC of Landmark Chambers and Tom Royston of Garden Court North Chambers.
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.”
The case will be heard at the same time as another appeal, brought by a domestic abuse victim. The case concerns the effects of the bedroom tax on a claimant, only known a ‘A’ for legal reasons, living in a ‘Sanctuary Scheme’ home.
‘A’ is represented by solicitor Rebekah Carrier, Hopkin Murray Beskine Solicitors, and barristers Karon Monaghan QC, Matrix Chambers, and Caoilfhionn Gallagher and Katie O’Byrne, Doughty Street Chambers.
Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, unsuccessfully argued that the appeals should not proceed to a full hearing.
The court rejected the Secretary of State’s arguments and ruled that a full hearing should be heard urgently.