Lawyers announce date for Supreme Court hearing in 'Bedroom Tax' legal case

Lawyers representing people with disabilities in the landmark legal battle against the Coalition Government’s controversial ‘Bedroom Tax’ have announced that having received permission in December to take their fight to the Supreme Court, a date for the two day hearing in the UK's highest court has now been set for March 2016.

The Supreme Court judges will hear lawyers, representing people with disabilities, challenge last year’s Court of Appeal decision which had upheld a High Court judgment that the new housing benefit regulations were lawful.

Since 1 April 2013, people in the social rented sector deemed to have 1 spare bedroom have had their housing benefit reduced by 14% and people deemed to have 2, or more, spare bedrooms have had their housing benefit reduced by 25% even when their disability means they cannot move to smaller accommodation or because of their disability they need to stay in their present accommodation.

In July 2013 the High Court accepted that the new rules introduced around the Bedroom Tax discriminated against disabled adults and children, however they decided that for disabled adults the discrimination was justified and therefore lawful.

Following the High Court’s ruling the Government introduced new regulations exempting households from the housing benefit reduction where children are unable to share a room because of their disability, however no amendment was made in respect of disabled adults in an analogous situation.

The High Court held that discrimination against adults with disabilities, even those in the equivalent situation to children with disabilities who could not share a room, was justified.

In February 2014 adults with disabilities took their case to the Court of Appeal arguing that they should be entitled to full Housing Benefit for the accommodation they actually need as a result of their disabilities and that the discriminatory impact of the measure on people with disabilities cannot be justified and is unlawful.

Jayson and Jacqueline Carmichael from Southport, who were part of the legal action and represented by Leigh Day, sought an appeal on the grounds that their position was indistinguishable from that of the disabled children who were now exempted.

However, the Court of Appeal refused this argument on the basis that the differential treatment of adults and children was reasonable and justified.

Charities, Social Landlords, Local Authorities and Advice Agencies as well as the United Nations Special Rapporteur have spoken out about the plight of people with disabilities who have been affected by the measure.

Two law firms, Leigh Day and Public Law Solicitors, representing those five adults with disabilities, will now take the legal challenge to the Supreme Court. Ugo Hayter from the law firm Leigh Day who is representing Mr and Mrs Carmichael, said:

“We are pleased that a hearing date has now been set.”

“The Court of Appeal last year recognised that our clients and thousands of disabled people across the UK had a need for accommodation not provided for by the new housing benefit rules, however the Court decided that disabled tenants should not have their housing needs met on an equivalent basis to their able bodied counterparts, just because they are disabled.

“Instead disabled tenants continue to be forced to rely on short term and discretionary payments.

“Our thoughts are with the many disabled persons around the country hit by the bedroom tax, who will be left to struggle financially for a further year.” The two day hearing will start on March 1st next year.