Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'This Unlawful Bedroom Tax Must Be Abandoned'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'This Unlawful Bedroom Tax Must Be Abandoned'

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Kelly Reporter mike.kelly@ncjmedia.co.uk

NORTH East campaigners have backed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's appeal to the Government to abandon the "cruel" and "unjust" bedroom tax after it was ruled 'unlawful' by the Court of Appeal.

Officially known as the 'under occupancy charge' or 'spare room subsidy', it sees people losing a proportion of their benefits if they live in social housing deemed to have one or more spare bedrooms.

In the London hearing, a victim of domestic violence and the grandparents of a severely disabled teenager won the latest round of their challenges against the lawfulness of it after three judges ruled in their favour.

One case, brought by a single mother living in a three-bedroom council house fitted with a secure panic room to protect her from a violent ex-partner, concerns the effect of the policy on women living in Sanctuary Scheme homes.

The other, brought by grandparents Paul and Sue Rutherford, of Clunderwen, Pembrokeshire, involves its impact on seriously disabled children who need overnight care.

In both cases it was argued that the policy, which came into force in April 2013, unlawfully discriminates against women and domestic violence victims and against children in the situation of the Rutherfords' grandson, Warren.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, Lord Justice Tomlinson and Lord Justice Vos announced that they were allowing the appeals in both cases on the ground that the "admitted discrimination in each case ... has not been justified by the Secretary of State".

The Department for Work and Pensions was given permission to challenge the Court of Appeal's ruling at the Supreme Court.

During Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Corbyn told David Cameron to "finally abandon this cruel and unjust policy which has been ruled to be illegal".

But Mr Cameron said: "It's unfair to subsidise spare rooms in the social rented sector when you don't subsidise them in the private sector".

Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah said: "We knew from the start this tax would hurt the most vulnerable in society, the very people we are supposed to protect. …

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