A person with a disability has won a case against housing benefits officials when a judge ruled that a reduction of her housing benefit breached her human rights. It was agreed that she does require a separate room from her husband due to the her MS and the adaptations she required.
This has positive implications for all of those with a disability impacted by the tax. Currently disabled people make up 63% of all those receiving a reduction in their housing benefit due to having a ‘spare bedroom’.
In fact the bedroom is rarely spare – it’s often used to store medical equipment, been adapted for a specific purpose, used for those who can’t sleep in the same room as someone else due to their condition, or for someone who requires a carer – but not every night.
The worst part of the new scheme penalising so many people is there isn’t a choice in the matter. One and two bedroom properties simply aren’t available, let alone houses that are suitably adapted. Often the person with a disability or the council have spent thousands of pounds on putting the right adaptations in place, sometimes even building an extension if the property wasn’t large enough to meet their needs. It’s then a cruel irony the room provided to make life easier for them ends up reducing their already inadequate benefits.
The Papworth Trust have reported that disabled people being hit by the tax are being forced to cut back essentials such as food and other bills, and they state this “will also have a longer term impact on the NHS and social services.”
While Labour have now promised to scrap the bedroom tax if they get into power, this cruel policy should be halted immediately to stop penalising the 420,000 disabled people impacted by this policy, and further 240,000 people on a low-income.