Be Machiavellian, sod morality, ignore the disability lobby’s and use any lawful means to and end to get rid of the bedroom tax. Controversial enough for you reader? Good, and the Court of Appeal ruling this week should make you get out of your moral indignation fugue and start to think!
The purpose of ALL challenges to the bedroom tax is to get rid of it and get rid of it for ALL those affected and that has to be the purpose and that has to be achieved by whatever lawful means it takes.
That should be written in stone yet the judicial review challenges in the High Court and Court of Appeal focus have been proven NOT to be the best way to challenge and get rid of the bedroom tax. The best way is for all disabled bedroom tax tenants to appeal the bedroom tax through the tribunals.
For all those disabled tenants and those who support their case then the strategy of the challenges to the bedroom tax needs to be as Machiavellian as the government arguments in supporting the discrimination that the bedroom tax encapsulates. Sod morality in other words and focus on HOW to get rid and that is by appealing the Housing Benefit decision which imposed the bedroom tax
Let’s start with a few facts.
- The High Court and then Court of Appeal cases which both lost were all about whether the bedroom tax POLICY was unlawful. That is what they were and are ALL about.
- A bedroom tax appeal is about whether the DECISION to impose the bedroom tax was LAWFUL or correct. It deals with Housing Benefit regulation and not with policy.
There is a huge difference between the two approaches and it is that difference that is being lost and or not understood in the first place.
The disability lobbies wanted to knock out the bedroom tax for ALL those that are disabled on a collective basis and to do that they had to argue the POLICY was unlawful through discrimination. I fully understand why the disability lobby’s and the lawyers went this traditional way
Yet for the individual tenant who launches a bedroom tax appeal the decision is on the individual merits of each case and as we have seen the tribunals ARE saying that:
(a) a couple who have to sleep apart for medical reasons relating to a disability ARE entitled to a bedroom each in their consideration of ‘housing need’ and thus getting out of the bedroom tax. See the Glasgow, Hereford and Redcar cases (and the rest here.)
(b) a bedroom for an overnight carer of someone who isn’t the tenant or the tenants partner is also being allowed as in the Liverpool case
(c) a bedroom is being deemed to be a room and not a bedroom and for many uses in the cases in Rochdale and Monmouth and so issues such as storing disability related equipment should be appealed to the tribunal on that basis.
The Bolton Upper Tribunal case said ‘bedroom’ is a room used and/or furnished as a bedroom’ and this was applied very closely in the Monmouth case at (c) above and these are here
The DWP has stated they will not appeal the Bolton UT case, and as the UT sets precedent, then the room usage issues which form a part of so many disabled tenants arguments in the storage of equipment is a better route to take than the traditional legal route.
Note too that it took 7 months from High Court decision to Court of Appeal decision and this was supposedly an expedited case!! That’s a further 30 weeks or so of having to pay the bedroom tax and a further 30 weeks of stress and worry and a further 30 weeks of hardship – all of which relies upon the POLICY being deemed unlawful which is NOT going to happen and never was.
The disability lobby’s ran away with the fairies on the bedroom tax and their arguments were all about morality morality morality. They are great arguments to win the hearts and minds of the public but a court deals with the law which is very different.
A tribunal while still being a court decides on what the HB regulations mean. So in the Liverpool case we see the judge saying the HB regulations surely could not have meant to provide a bedroom for an overnight carer ONLY for the tenant or the tenants partner. They surely must have meant to allow for a bedroom for an overnight carer for ANY family member. To not mean this must mean that the HB regulations are incompatible with the ECHR as enacted by the Human Rights Act.
Those human rights arguments are very much the same yet the High Court and Court of Appeal judicial review route does not allow BUT the tribunal route DOES ALLOW.
It is then a no-brainer for all disabled tenants to go down the bedroom tax appeal route to get what they want which is the bedroom tax disapplied in their circumstances. Yet disabled bedroom tax tenants and that is two-thirds of all bedroom tax households have relied upon the traditional judicial review route which has failed.
They ALL now need to launch a formal appeal of their bedroom tax decision which is the route I have always advocated that has borne success and the same route I was accused of giving vulnerable tenants false hope over. It is neither here nor there the fact that I have been proven right, the only thing that matters is to get rid of the bedroom tax in whatever lawful ways we can.
Appeal? – If you look at the hundreds of thousands of post on social media such as Facebook you will see disabled tenants saying the council rejected my appeal! No, no no!!! You did not APPEAL all you did was ask your council to reconsider or REVIEW your decision. You need to state that is they do not reconsider and revise your case then you will appeal that to the tribunal. So many tenants are ill-advised on this and you have to ask WHY haven’t the disability lobbies focused on this simple misunderstanding and why haven’t they advised tenants to launch a formal appeal to the tribunal?
That is what ALL tenants not just disabled tenants hit by the bedroom tax should do as if they follow that the bedroom tax is dead.
Tenants have 13 months from the original decision in which to appeal. The earliest bedroom tax decision dates I have seen were 27 February 2013 in the North East and so you can appeal by 26 March 2014. Use the GL24 form to appeal and that is here and is a very simple process as all you need to do is put your arguments in outline. For example, I maintain one of my rooms is used for the necessary storage of my disability equipment and is not a bedroom. Or I maintain my housing need is for 3 bedrooms not 2 as one is needed for an overnight carer for my adult son.
Such simple and factual statements are all that is needed at this time and you have plenty of time to submit a full written argument to the tribunal. Whatever your arguments are you will find similar arguments that have been successful at tribunal already and I have collated here for your consideration.
What are the consequences of appeal?
When you win at appeal the original decision is revised and the Housing Benefit you have had wrongly deducted (the bedroom tax) has to be repaid. It costs you nothing to appeal too!
If everyone appeals it will cost the government – yes the same bar stewards who introduced the bedroom tax – far more than they could ever save from it. The cost of the tribunals falls to the government as the tribunals are part of the Ministry of Justice and the average cost to government of the tribunals has been estimated at £1500 or so or DOUBLE the maximum bedroom tax saving of £728 per case per year.
It is time to be Machiavellian with this direct and lawful action and hit the government where it hurts.
That is not to say you have little chance at an appeal tribunal, quite the opposite in fact and the cases I refer to above of winning an extra bedroom for a disabled couple or a bedroom for an overnight carer for ANY household member and especially that your room is not used and can’t be used as a bedroom as it is necessary to store your disability equipment.
Yes you can also appeal next years decisions too on the same grounds when these decisions land on your doormat in a month or so time. What ARE you waiting for?
You can sit and mope and get angry that the Court of Appeal ruled the bedroom tax is discriminatory but is still lawful OR you can get off your backsides and appeal to the tribunal service and get rid of the bedroom tax. The traditional methods of going to the High Court and Court of Appeal have failed yet the bedroom tax tribunal appeal route has succeeded.
I advocated the tribunal route and was told I was giving tenants false hope!!! I’ve given them a lot more hope and a lot more success than the lawyers and the disability lobby’s…oh dear now I have said it haven’t I reader….Yes the truth!!
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?