People living with severe conditions hit by the ‘bedroom tax’.
The Bedroom Tax (also known as under occupancy charge or the Spare Room Subsidy) is a change to Housing Benefit Entitlement that means occupants will receive less in housing benefit if they live in a housing association or council property that is deemed to have one or more spare bedrooms.
The amount of net rent covered by housing benefit is cut by 14% if there is one spare bedroom and 25% where there are two or more spare bedrooms. This kind of deficit regularly results in occupants being unable to make up the shortfall and ending up in arrears and ultimately being evicted. This often affects the most vulnerable people who often don’t have anyone to fight for them.
We have repeatedly been involved cases where people clearly need additional rooms for many reasons but have been hit with the bedroom tax. Often rooms are needed for carers, or for partners who cannot share adapted beds or with a partner who might be incontinent, frequently waking, unpredictable or violent or simply has a particularly disturbed sleep pattern. Sometimes additional spaces is required to store aids such as wheel chairs or prosthetics.
The Liverpool Echo reports that former footballer Neil Carroll and his partner Kathryn Davies have won their appeal against the charge at the Liverpool Tribunal Court.
The couple live in their specially adapted 4-bedroomed home in Prescot.
Twenty five year old Neil was left permanently brain damaged and wheelchair-bound after being abandoned by a rouge taxi driver, who stolen his bank card, stolen £250 from his bank account and abandoned him. Neil plunged 60 feet from a motorway flyover and was left virtually paralysed and needing 24-hour care..
Neil’s family argued that the property was not under-occupied as Neil slept in one bedroom in a specially-modified hospital bed and his girlfriend in another room. A third room was required for his 24-hour carer, and a fourth very small room housed a Neil to enable Neil to access the upstairs.
The judge in this case ruled ‘all rooms were in use, and none were spare.’
It is a relief to see that common sense has prevailed in this cases but it is important that the policy is reviewed to allow councils discretion when applying the penalty to ensure that vulnerable people are not evicted from their properties when they cannot meet unreasonable additional charges.