A couple from Redcar have won their bedroom tax appeal and the two page judgment is included and makes very interesting reading and is significant as it is yet another first in its type of appeal ground.
The couple live in a 3 bed house and the council imposed the 25% bedroom tax reduction. The couple argued that due to the severity of the wife’s disability they needed a bedroom each and so had a two bed housing need. The judge agreed and so the bedroom tax was reduced from 25% to 14%.
The ruling is significant as many couples, including those who lost at judicial review in the MA & Ors case a few months back had precisely the same issues. As did many of the early cases shown on TV news when the bedroom tax began to hit the media in February, one member of the couple had to sleep in a separate room due to the others medical and disability issues.
This case will prove to be an incentive for all those couples in the same situation, having to sleep apart from their partner on disability and medical grounds and is likely to prompt many more appeals on this basis.
The couple wish to remain anonymous and the judgment below has been suitably anonymised for that reason and all redacted parts relates to name, address and other personal details and nothing turns on them.
Paragraph 6 outlines the scale of the disabilities and also states letters of support from GP and a specialist CFS nurse.
Paragraph 7 states some very significant points:
“In considering whether there is under occupation of the appellant’s property, the Local Authority have not taken into consideration her disabilities and her reasonable requirements, as a result these, to sleep in a room of her own.”
This is significant as it (a) criticises the decision-making process which I have always maintained is a sham; (b) states that the council should have considered these specific issues rather than impose the bedroom tax based on ignorance of these facts; and (c) the council SHOULD have considered the facts.
Many councils have said we didn’t have to consider individual facts of each individual case; there was no need and no regulatory need to do so. Yet the judge is unambiguously stating that is wrong in law and the councils should have considered the facts.
Paragraph 8 simply says the local councils DHP budget has run out and 5 months into the bedroom tax – make of that what you will with regard to the coalition mantra that we have put in £m of DHP monies for disability cases!
Paragraph 9 has the judge summing up saying this couple “reasonably require one bedroom each” or in simple terms it was unreasonable for the council not to allow them a bedroom each given the disabilities and medical evidence.
So not considering any of the facts is unreasonable and taking a line that we (the council) do not have to investigate individual facts of each case is especially unreasonable. How many unreasonable decisions for whatever reasons becomes a strong appeal ground because of this and not taking regard or even asking about the facts of each case, be they room size, room usage, room purpose or facts about the individuals resident in each property as in this case is unreasonable. Or as I have always said – the decision-making process was a sham.
One key point I wish to make and make strongly. I have been quick to castigate social landlords for not standing four-square behind the bedroom tax tenant and so it is only right and very well deserved when I say here that Coast & Country Housing did here what all social landlords should have done from the beginning – they stood four-square behind the tenant.
Why other social landlords have not done this remains a pertinent question and one I have criticised them for so it makes a refreshing change to be able to praise Coast & Country.
Read the full tale here and Coast & Country stood behind and supported the tenants as part of a mortgage rescue scheme before the bedroom tax came into being and knowing the consequences of doing so as this was 7 months before the bedroom tax hit. They then supported the tenants to appeal the bedroom tax decision – other landlords take note and doing the right thing as Coast & Country did here should be part of your culture as it is theirs.
I spoke with the landlord earlier today and they were genuinely modest in accepting my praise for what they did here, a sure sign this landlord accepts that what they did was only what ALL landlords should be doing!
I have no qualms about being effusive here if for no other reason that when I have criticised social landlords for not doing this I have done so severely but in my view justifiably. I hope this doesn’t read as sycophancy but Coast & Country deserve much praise for their role and ALL other social landlords should follow their example and actions.
Two quick final points. I have seen some of the appeal letters written here too and the tenants asked the 2 simple questions of how the council decided what a bedroom is and what information did the landlord provide, the two questions I originally advised tenants to ask before I modified this into the 6 of the standard template. Note I am not taking any credit here as those questions were always stating the obvious.
Secondly I do admire the tenants for using the English Bill of Rights from 1689 into their articulate appeal arguments:
I just like that argument as it says that no bedroom tax imposition should be taken without a full investigation of the facts being considered and to do the opposite is ….well….what did the judge say unreasonable!
The significant two-page judgment is below: