‘Bedroom tax’ victory – government drops court challenge on discriminatory rules cases

Contact A Family logoContact a Family is delighted that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has dropped its attempt to overturn the court of appeal ruling in the Gorry case that housing benefit rules are discriminatory towards disabled children and their families.

As a result, the DWP yesterday issued urgent new guidance to local authorities, which means that families will no longer face a reduction in housing benefit if their child is unable to share a bedroom because of their disability – a feature of the so called ‘bedroom tax’.

The new guidance makes clear that where a local authority accepts that a child’s condition prevents them from sharing with a sibling, housing benefit will include an individual bedroom for that child. This will apply to those living in private housing immediately and to social housing once the ‘bedroom tax’ is introduced this April.

Responding to the news Srabani Sen, CEO of Contact a Family said: “This is fantastic news and we are delighted that the government has finally seen sense and recognised that some disabled children cannot share a bedroom with their sibling. It will make a huge difference to families with disabled children living in both private housing and social housing.”

“Unfortunately this new guidance only helps in those cases where a disabled child cannot share a room – it will not assist families who need an extra bedroom for other reasons such as storing specialist equipment or where they have someone staying overnight to help care for their child. Because of this we can’t really say that all disabled children are exempt from the bedroom tax but nevertheless, this still represents a massive victory.”

“The government’s decision to drop its supreme court appeal shows serious flaws in the way the government has assessed the impact of this policy on vulnerable disabled children and their families. As more welfare changes start to bite such universal credit and personal independence payment (PIP), we remain concerned that government hasn’t sufficiently assessed the cumulative impact of welfare changes and local authority cuts to disability services on disabled children and their families.  Contact a Family will continue the fight.”

Families seeking more information about how this may affect them should call the Contact a Family freephone helpline on 0808 808 3555.

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