Aug 032012

Appeal court extra room ruling helps disabled People

Burnip v Birmingham City Council & Anor [2012] EWCA Civ 629 (15 May 2012)

 3 August 2012

 In a unanimous ruling, the Court of Appeal has held that the size criteria in the housing benefit regulations discriminate against disabled people, because they do not allow for an additional room to be paid for where a disabled person has a carer, or where two children cannot share a room because of disability.

The decision concerned Ian Burnip and Lucy Trengove who needed 24 hour care, which required carers to work in shifts and Richard Gorry who has two disabled daughters who cannot share a room because of the nature of their disabilities.

 Since the case began, the rules have been amended to cover the circumstances of Ian Burnip and Lucy Trengove, but not to cover the situation of Richard Gorry. This ruling is therefore most important where a room cannot be shared because of disability.

The issues in the case were

 Whether the rules discriminate against the Appellant by comparison with a claimant in the social rented sector with two children who cannot share a room because of disability contrary to Article 14 taken together with Article 1P European Court of Human rights (ECHR). A tenant in the social rented sector would have all of his rent met by housing benefit, since housing benefit the social rented sector is not currently subject to restrictions under the size criteria (The government plans to change this under the Welfare Reform Bill with effect from April 2013).

 Whether the rules discriminate on grounds of disability by comparison with a housing benefit claimant with two children of the same sex who were not disabled, whose HB met their full housing needs, contrary to Article 14 taken together with Article 1P ECHR.

 Whether the rules discriminate on grounds of disability by failing to treat the claimant differently from a housing benefit claimant with two children who were not disabled, by not paying him an additional amount to cover a bedroom for each of them, contrary to Article 14 taken together with Article 1P ECHR.

The ruling states that there is a ‘prima facie’ case of discrimination for purposes of Article 14 of the ECHR, and that the Secretary of State had failed to establish objective and reasonable justification for the discriminatory effect of the statutory criteria.

 You can view the decision on the bailii website.

You can find out more information in press releases produced by Child Poverty Action Group and Irwin Mitchell (solicitors) and Birmingham Law Centre blog.

 Secretary of State’s response

The Secretary of State has applied for permission to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the use of the size criteria in the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is either not discriminatory or else can be justified. Should the appeal succeed this would affect the decision in relation to Richard Gorry and his two disabled daughters. The DWP has issued guidance, HB/CTB A6/2012, which suggests that lookalike cases should be suspended pending the outcome of the appeal.




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  9 Responses to “Extra bedroom Housing Benefit withdrawal discriminates against disabled people: another win against Government”

  1. All I can say is thanks and well done. Keep up the very good work!

  2. i have lived in my bungalow rented to myself 16 years ago as my son now 22 has cerebral palsey. i have three bedrooms and recently my daughter has moved out.i now face hardship as we will have to leave our family home because i cannot afford the extra bedroom tax.Im sure the government have said by law i need a certain amount of money to live on so…by law how can they take fourteen pounds of my living money to pay rent????? this is our home where i and my family have so many memories including my grandson dying here. His ashes are in my garden!! where is the family values of our government?? is a house no longer a home?? I have spent money and time on our home and not only will have to move once!!! when my son leaves i will be forced to move once more!! I am a carer and cannot work! where is the justice???? I feel like i am being treated unjustly and now i have raised my family am being thrown aside like i Dont matter!!

  3. I am also concerned that a disabled person frequently needs additional space for storage of wheelchair, standing hoist, commode/shower glideabout etc. Needs use of a single bed to ensure transfer safety for carers and so although married, a 2 bed bungalow is required to allow the space required.
    A single bedroom bungalow has insufficient footprint – but as a married couple, they will only be entitled to one bedroom allowance.
    Also a through floor lift requires a home with a large footprint. A 2 bed home is generally not sufficient space and a 3 bed has to be used. Where the mother has a disability and 2 young children are deemed able to share a bedroom – this family too will also meet a benefit shortfall.
    I would be pleased to hear if cases such as these are being highlighted for action as I am very concerned that the situation will cause great hardship and distress.

  4. I’m delighted for these people and, yes, it’s a sound and just outcome. I hope that the appeal is shrugged off, but…what hope is there for folk with no disabled children? The European Courts tell us how to do just about everything, but where is the European Court with regard to this assault on renting tenants? Is any body appealing to the European Courts concerning the rest of us, also?


  5. this goverment is rushing because it knows it will lose the next election and wants to do as much damage to us as possible. in its haste it is making big and costly mistakes some through inexperience of power others through hasty mistakes. this will ultimatly bring this lot down as more and more of their rulings will fail.

  6. Congratulations- this is a wonderful and just outcome and I am astonoished that the Sec. of State is appealing the decision. don’t think the appeal will get anywhere after reading the info on the link. I am certain there are thousands of cases that could be brought against the gov on the ground of discrimination against people with disabilities and now that ATOS and DWP/ Grayling have been exposed, surely cases could be brought regarding discrimination because of the flawed WCA process?

    Great to have some good news for a change.

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