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Bedroom tax and sanctuary schemes

A quick note to record that the judicial review of the bedroom tax regulations as being discriminatory on the basis that a ‘panic room’ equipped for domestic violence victims was classed as a ‘spare bedroom’ failed. The judgment does not appear to be on Bailii, but a DWP bulletin records the case. Unsurprisingly, the fact that DHP was in payment was key to the Court’s decision. The rest of the note of the judgment is of the now familiar path of ‘discriminatory, but not manifestly without reasonable foundation, and DHP as mitigation’. The Court also suggested that the number impacted would mean ‘micro-managing’ in legislation.

To be honest, the result cannot be taken as a great surprise, given the line of reasoning in previous bedroom tax JRs and in the Court of Appeal in MA. But I understand that the Claimant intends to seek permission to appea, and of course MA & Ors in the Supreme Court could change the whole picture.

That same DWP bulletin contains a ‘clarification’ which helpfully confirms that I was entirely right in my previous criticism of the guidance in HB U6/2014. In fact the clarification so closely resembles my post, I am considering billing the DWP. It contains the glorious ‘clarification’ that:

“It was not intended that HB decision makers themselves would re-designate the property or review the rent levels as it is recognised that this is outside their remit, especially where the landlord of the property is not the LA.”

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

3 Comments

  1. jayson carmichael

    Govts made such a monumental error wi Bedroom Tax that fo Judges ta rule them wrong would shake foundations of democracy. We are political prisoners of policy, ruling policy illegal would be like ruling incarceration of a notorious killer for eternity illegal. I fo one would die rather than succumb ta policy.

    Reply
  2. Peter Barker

    Of course I haven’t seen the decisoin yet, but from what pepole have said up to now I don’t think the issue here was whether the panic room itself is a bedroom. The problem in this case as I understand it was that there was another spare bedroom – the case was about the justification for the bedroom tax where the property as a whole has this feature and where it would take a long time and a lot of money to provide a safe home elsewhere.

    Local authorities and, failing that, Tribunals could still decide on the facts of any case that a panic room is not a bedroom (which would be entirely consistent with the Fife UT decision on bedrooms).

    Reply
    • Giles Peaker

      Peter

      Yes, I think that is broadly right. The discrimination point was on the basis that the regulations should have excluded a panic room from being classed as a bedroom, because of the overall situation for sanctuary schemes.

      Reply

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