A housing provider on Teesside claims a landmark bedroom tax appeal ruling will give “hope to tens of thousands of separated couples with children”.
Coast & Country says its Tenants Working Together group has secured a legal victory which could mean parents sharing responsibility for a child or children will not be subject to the controversial bedroom tax on the spare room used by their child.
A first-tier tribunal judge ruled that a child can live in two homes for bedroom tax purposes.
It follows other tribunal successes, many based on room size or usage, which encouraged the group to help fellow tenants in lodging an appeal.
Kim Gallagher, chair of Coast & Country’s tenant panel, said:
“This successful appeal is incredibly exciting and has the potential to affect the lives of many thousands of people across the country for the better.
“It is the so-called absent parent, generally the father, who is hit by the bedroom tax, even if the child has a room that is regularly used at the house. This ruling opens the doors for many other people to appeal on the grounds that a child can have two homes.
“The bedroom tax is grossly unfair and it is only by determination to fight unjust cases that the most vulnerable are not penalised.”
Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said:
“The bedroom tax was one of the cruelest policies implemented by the coalition Government and under the current Tory Government, it will not be going away.
“A Labour government would have abolished this unfair policy and scrapping the bedroom tax would have been included in the first Queen’s Speech.
“The next best thing is winning these little battles in the courts and I completely welcome this decision and praise the hard work of these local campaigners.
“It is so vital that it is repeatedly pointed out how unfair and, in many cases, unworkable this policy is. I’m sure the Coast & Country tenants’ working group will continue to fight against the bedroom tax and I am happy to support their efforts.”
Coast & Country chief executive Iain Sim said:
“Coast & Country is pleased to be able to support our hardworking and energetic tenants’ group in ensuring that any tenant who may have grounds for appeal is made aware of this and assisted in every way.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said:
“This judgment does not change the wider policy.
“Ending the spare room subsidy is restoring fairness to the system and saving £1m a day.”
It is understood the ruling could still be subject to appeal.
Under the spare room subsidy, social sector tenants with rooms deemed to be “spare” face a reduction in their housing benefit.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 27 May 2105