01 May 2014
Today Liberty announced that it has been granted permission to bring a Judicial Review of the Government’s controversial “bedroom tax”, based on the policy’s impact on separated families with shared custody of children.
The scheme cuts parents’ Housing Benefit if they have a ‘spare room’, even if that room is used by a child who lives with them on a part-time basis. Liberty is challenging the lawfulness of the relevant regulations on the grounds they are irrational and a violation of Articles 8 and/or 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to a private and family life and no discrimination).
A High Court Judge has now indicated that it is in the public interest for Liberty’s arguments to be heard and has given permission for the case to go forward. The human rights group launched the claim in April last year on behalf of three clients adversely affected by the policy, including Simon Cohen, from Gloucestershire, whose son lives with him four days a week in his two-bedroom house. Under the scheme his son is not considered part of his household – his room is deemed “unoccupied” – and Mr Cohen’s housing benefit has been cut by 14%.
Rosie Brighouse, Legal Officer for Liberty, said:
“A child’s bedroom is their sanctuary and these parents are providing stable and secure homes, not ‘under-occupying’ their properties. This one-size-fits-all rule discriminates against families outside a certain narrow mould, meaning that our clients represent thousands of parents who want to be part of their children’s lives. A Government who talks of prioritising families should know better.”
Liberty is seeking a ruling that the relevant provision – Regulation B13 of the Housing Benefit (Amendment) Regulations 2012 – is incompatible with its clients’ and their children’s rights under Article 8 and/or Article 14 of the European Convention – and thus unlawful under section 6 of the Human Rights Act.
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