The High Court is expected to rule on a legal challenge to the bedroom tax today, which was brought by 10 families with vulnerable and disabled children.
The case was heard in March, before the under-occupation penalty was introduced on 1 April, with the families arguing the rules discriminate against housing benefit claimants who are disabled or have disabled family members.
Under the penalty working-age social housing tenants who are receiving housing benefit have their payments cut if they have one or more spare bedrooms.
The families bringing the legal challenge all argue that although they are deemed to have spare rooms under the government’s criteria, they need the extra space because of the problems they face.
The government’s rules state children under the age of 10 must share a room regardless of gender, and children under the age of 16 must share if they are the same gender. The families that brought the legal challenge argue their children are unable to share rooms because of their disabilities, because they are at risk of violence from a sibling, or because of trauma they have suffered as a result of domestic violence and abuse.
The case is the first of three challenges to the bedroom tax that are going ahead. Two tenants represented by law firm Leigh Day are arguing the penalty will have a disproportionate impact on disabled people, while human rights group Liberty is representing three families, arguing the penalty is discriminatory and infringes on family life.
Protesters are planning to gather outside the High Court ahead of today’s ruling.
Linda Burnip, from pressure group Disabled People Against Cuts, said: ‘People who have had thousands of pounds worth of adaptations made to their homes are being forced to move. Replacing those adaptations will cost councils far more money than this policy will save. As usual with Department for Work and Pensions policies it is ill-thought through and makes no financial or moral sense to penalise disabled people in this way.’