British Conservative bedroom tax is illegal, court decides

This video from England is called Anti-Bedroom Tax Protest – Liverpool – March 16th 2013.

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:

Bedroom Tax Victims Win Court Battle

Thursday 28th January 2016

Judges rule vicious tax is ‘discriminatory’ but Tories vow to appeal

THE Tories were dealt a blow yesterday when judges ruled that their hated bedroom tax discriminated against a domestic violence victim and a family with a severely disabled child.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has not “justified” cutting the social tenants’ housing benefit by at least 14 per cent for being deemed to have “an extra bedroom,” the three Court of Appeal judges said.

A woman referred to as “A,” who lives in a council house adapted to contain a panic room to protect her from a violent ex-partner, and Paul and Sue Rutherford, who look after 15-year-old Warren, had “suffered discrimination” as a result of the vicious tax, the judges added.

Both bedroom tax cases were contrary to the Article 14 “anti-discrimination” clause in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) on the grounds of sex and disability, Lord Chief Justice John Thomas, Lord Justice Tomlinson and Lord Justice Vos ruled.

This is because the bedroom tax regulations say that an “additional bedroom would be allowed for defined classes of persons,” which “A” and the Rutherfords launched a judicial review into, to argue that this category should include them.

“A” faced losing £11.65 a week from her housing benefit despite needing the panic room — considered by authorities to be “a spare room” — after having been raped, assaulted and threatened with death by her ex-partner.

The DWP argued that her challenge lacked credibility because discretionary housing payments (DHPs) were available through local councils in exceptional circumstances.

Warren — who has a rare genetic disorder that means he is doubly incontinent and unable to walk, talk or feed himself — is cared for by his grandparents in a three-bedroom bungalow adapted for his needs.

The Rutherfords’ third bedroom is for carers who stay overnight and to store medical equipment, but the regulations had stated that the allowance only includes a claimant or their spouse and not a child.

The judges allowed the appeals in both cases on the ground that the “admitted discrimination in each case” had “not been justified by the Secretary of State.”

Mr Rutherford, from Pembrokeshire, said: “I’m a bit lost for words.

“I could almost cry with happiness. Other people are going to benefit from this decision as well. That was partly why we did it.”

The government — which will lodge a Supreme Court appeal against the decision — rejects the term “bedroom tax” and says the tax removes the so-called “spare room subsidy” to encourage social tenants to downsize and free up bigger homes.

PM David Cameron said he would study the judges’ decision after Labour called for the abolition of the punitive bedroom tax in force since April 2013.

During Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Cameron claimed that “it’s unfair to subsidise spare rooms in the social sector if you don’t subsidise them in the private sector.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called on Mr Cameron to “finally abandon this cruel and unjust policy.”

Shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith said: “This victory in the Court of Appeal is a massive blow to the Tories’ bedroom tax.

“Surely the time has now come for the Tories to discover a conscience, listen to the courts as well as the public, and scrap the hated bedroom tax.”

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Bed tax is an iniquitous tax

Thursday 28th January 2016

THE appeal court ruling that the application of the bedroom tax to a woman who has suffered domestic abuse and the grandparents of a severely disabled child was illegal is obviously to be welcomed.

But it should not be necessary.

The fact that these cases even exist shows, as A’s solicitor has said, the “catastrophic effect” that this punitive and pernicious policy has had on vulnerable people across the country.

It should be unthinkable that the state should punish a vulnerable single parent because the police had to specially adapt her home to protect her from a violent ex-partner. That protecting her life and that of her child should be considered “under-occupying” her home.

Or that grandparents of a child who is unable to walk, talk or feed himself should be punished because of the support they require in order to care for him.

These cases are undoubtedly just the tip of the iceberg and their obvious iniquity rests on a deeper inequality — the entire concept of “under-occupancy” applied to one section of society.

There is no limit on the richest in our society having as many rooms, or indeed houses, as they like.

However, working people in receipt of benefits, many of whom have been forced into poverty by long-term underinvestment in the economy and this government’s austerity agenda, are painted as a drain on society.

This reflects the government’s wider priorities.

At the same time as imposing this cruel tax on the most vulnerable, David Cameron is cutting the public services that we all rely on.

In his own county council, cuts to local government funding are forcing the closure of all 44 children’s centres, including the support they provide for victims of domestic abuse and disabled children and adults.

The ideology of austerity that is used to justify these cuts is blatantly false.

Take the case of Google’s tax bill. While our services are systematically destroyed by underfunding and closure on economic grounds, a multimillion-pound business can pay just 3 per cent tax on over £6 billion profits made in the UK.

The issue here is not the legality or otherwise of the bedroom tax, nor whether or not the backroom deal with Google fulfils its legal tax responsibilities. It is about the kind of society we want to live in.

This government has proved again and again that its primary responsibility is to maintain the profits of big business through a massive transfer of wealth from working people.

Its programme includes restriction of the right to strike, the criminalisation of protest and the privatisation of our National Health Service, our education system and our remaining public services.

This battle will not be fought in the courts, though any victories are welcome. It will be fought on the streets, at the ballot box and in our communities and workplaces.

We must dedicate ourselves to building a movement which brings together all those opposed to the bedroom tax, to the scandalous extortion of private rental, to the closure of children’s centres and the destruction of the NHS.

We must build alliances between those fighting the Trade Union Bill and those fighting workfare and welfare cuts.

The shift to the left in the Labour Party provides us with a historic opportunity to build such a movement and to mobilise whole communities to reject the government’s austerity agenda and the underlying narrative of neoliberalism.

We must seize the moment and build working-class solidarity which is strong enough not only to withstand the Tories’ assault but to push back and create the kind of society we want to live in.

Iain Duncan Smith accused of writing ‘blank cheque’ to lawyers to defend bedroom tax in court: here.

THE hated bedroom tax is a cruel attack on some of the most vulnerable people in Britain, lawyers argued yesterday. A panel of Supreme Court judges heard evidence against the Tories’ so-called “spare room subsidy” which inflicts hardship on disabled people, carers and domestic violence victims: here.

THE GOVERNMENT is set to blow taxpayers’ cash on a costly legal challenge to Wednesday’s landmark court ruling that the bedroom tax is discriminatory and illegal. Court of Appeal judges found that the notorious policy “discriminated” against a domestic violence survivor and the family of a severely disabled teenager: here.

RUTH HUNT speaks to three sanctions survivors who, thanks to Iain Duncan Smith’s merciless regime, were left for weeks with as little as £5 to get by on: here.

9 thoughts on “British Conservative bedroom tax is illegal, court decides

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  6. Thursday 2nd February 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Features

    ZOE STREATFIELD speaks to Sean Clerkin about planned Tory legislation that will dramatically cap the Local Housing Allowance putting thousands at risk of homelessness

    AS PART of their pernicious attack on social housing, the Tories are planning to cap the amount of money social housing tenants receive, meaning that hundreds of thousands of people across Britain will struggle to cover their rent.

    Many thousands of vulnerable people are still unaware of these changes to be introduced in April 2019, which campaigners say will lead to a spike in homelessness.

    Dubbed the “bedroom tax 2” by campaigners, the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) cap will mean that a single person or couple living in a two-bedroom flat will have their housing benefit capped at the one bedroom rate.

    Single tenants under 35 with no children will see their benefits limited to the “shared accommodation rate” (SAR) which is much lower than the average for one-bedroom properties.

    It means that a younger tenant in Glasgow who would normally be entitled to £92.06 under the current system will receive just £68.28 in housing benefit.

    There have been reports that because of the changes housing associations are planning to exclude under 35s from socially rented homes in a scandalous move to prevent them renting out to young people who will not be able to cover their rent.

    The Scottish Federation of Housing Association (SFHA) estimates that around 250,000 in Scotland will be affected by the changes.

    Last December a “bin the bedroom tax 2” campaign was launched to fight the proposed changes. They want to derail the Britain-wide law entirely rather than simply call on the Scottish government to mitigate the impact.

    I spoke to Scottish Tenants Organisation co-ordinator and Bin the Bedroom Tax 2 founder Sean Clerkin about his campaign to raise awareness on the issue and ultimately defeat it.

    He told me that changes were “an ideologically driven attack on the welfare state” and were “designed to impoverish the poor by making people homeless so that the super rich don’t have to pay taxes.”

    In his mind it is a “clear attempt to destroy one of the main pillars of the welfare state — social housing,” which will “drive thousands of vulnerable people onto the streets.”

    It will have a huge impact on people’s mental health and could lead to suicides as people have nowhere to turn, he said.

    He warned that disabled people would be particularly badly hit as the cuts mean that they would not be able to cover the cost of care they receive in sheltered accommodation.

    The move was “brutal, cruel and vindictive” and would be “just the tip of the iceberg” if the Tories got away with it.

    He warned that despite the huge impact this legislation will have on people’s lives, still too few were aware it was going to happen and that there needed to be public opposition and awareness of the changes.

    So far the Bin the Bedroom Tax 2 campaigners have submitted a petition to Parliament calling on the Scottish government to oppose the changes, they intend to protest outside the Scottish Conservatives’ office in February and outside their conference in March.

    They are also lobbying for a meeting with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Housing Minister Kevin Stewart.

    The SNP, Scottish Labour and the Scottish Greens have so far said they are against the changes in theory, but have yet to say what they’ll do to oppose it in practice.

    At the moment housing associations and councils in Scotland are opposed to the changes and want the Scottish government to mitigate the damage — but Clerkin warns that this is not enough.

    He said the Scottish government was already mitigating the bedroom tax at a cost of £35 million a year but the new changes could cost up to £100 million and without progressive taxation of the rich the money would have to come from somewhere else in the budget, such as the cash-starved NHS.

    Simply lessening the damage in the current climate would “be robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Clerkin believes. He is calling for the changes to be dropped entirely.

    “We have two years to stop this immoral piece of legislation being enacted. The Tories have delayed it twice and are on the back foot now,” he added.

    Campaigners are calling for broad-based opposition to the law — in its entirety — involving housing activists and trade unions.

    Protest on February 7 at 1pm outside the Scottish Conservatives office, 67 Northumberland Street, Edinburgh EH3 6JG


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