"Court Case should signal the end of bedroom tax" say Rochdale Lib Dems

January 27, 2016 9:17 PM

Rochdale Lib Dem Leader Andy Kelly has spoken out against the so-called "Bedroom Tax" after the Court of Appeal declared it "... discriminatory and unlawful". Judges made their landmark decision against the Government by a victim of domestic violence and the family of a disabled teenager.

Councillor Kelly, who represents Milnrow and Newhey, has long been a critic of the "tax". It was originally introduced in April 2013 - aimed at encouraging people to move out of larger homes when claiming housing benefit.

Andy said: "I supported the premise of dealing with the amount of spare bedrooms in much-needed social housing. What I didn't support was the heavy-handed manner in which it was foisted upon the most vulnerable. There was no provision, for example, for people who receive respite care. I made my feelings well known to Government ministers in the Lib Dems at the time. These court cases have created a precedent and I think they could spell the end of the so-called bedroom tax."

One of the cases was brought by Paul and Susan Rutherford on behalf of their grandson Warren. Being severely disabled, he required round-the-clock attention involving carers and specialist medical equipment. The family were penalised, via the charge for a bedroom that desperately needed. The Court of Appeal found that the impact of the "tax" on disabled children was contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights.

The latest figures available show that in 2014, Rochdale MBC was allocated £517,104 by the Government in Discretionary Housing Payment funding. Of that, they spent £37,232 on supporting 243 households struggling with the removal of the spare room subsidy in the social rented sector.

Councillor Kelly said: "Of course, we all know that building more council houses will help. Residents in Rochdale, affected by the 'tax' simply had no other option to pay. There was very little room to maneuver for residents. Downsizing was never an option as the houses were simply not available. This Government, rather than appealing this decision, needs to now go back to the drawing board. It needs to work with organisations like Rochdale Borough-wide Housing to come up with a solution to spare rooms that doesn't penalise the very vulnerable."