The UK Government’s controversial Bedroom Tax has suffered a blow following a judge’s ruling that it unlawfully discriminated against a disabled woman.
The woman, who suffers from progressive multiple sclerosis, had been told she would have to share a bedroom with her husband or face a 14 per cent reduction to her housing benefit.
At a tribunal in Glasgow, her lawyers argued that any penalty would be in contravention of the woman’s human rights.
Judge Lyndy Boyd held that the decision to remove the spare room subsidy was incompatible with the woman’s rights as defined in Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The judge said: “Not to so read it would be incompatible with the appellant’s rights under Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights read with Article 1 of the First Protocol of the European Convention of Human Rights.”
Judge Boyd added: “The appellant’s flat is not larger than she needs. She does not have a spare or extra bedroom.
“Because of her severe disability she is not able to share a bedroom with her husband and he must have a bedroom of his own. Her flat is not under-occupied.
“As a result of her sever disability she and her husband require a bedroom each and the flat is fully occupied.”
Commenting, SNP MSP Linda Fabiani, who sits on the Welfare Reform Committee, said:
“This ruling could be of huge significance and underlines the already existing concerns that the Bedroom Tax is in breach of human rights.
“The move further discredits Westminster’s damaging and unfair policy after a previous ruling from a top QC that dimensions matter when it comes to defining a bedroom.
“Only a Yes vote in next year’s referendum puts Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands, and will give us control over the social security system so that we can get rid of the discriminatory Bedroom Tax, and have a welfare state that reflects the views and votes of people in Scotland.”
Commenting on the ruling, a DWP spokesman said: “Tribunal decisions at this level do not set a precedent.
“We will need to look at this particular decision in detail, but in July the Divisional Court ruled that the Department had fulfilled its equality duties to disabled people who are affected by the policy.”
He added: “Even after the reform we still pay over 80% of most claimants’ housing benefit, but the taxpayer can no longer pay for spare bedrooms in the social housing sector.”