Supreme Court delivers verdict on bedroom tax
The Supreme Court has delivered its judgment on the discriminatory impact of the bedroom tax. The Court considered seven cases and decided that there was an "inexplicable inconsistency" in the policy's differing treatment of adults and children with disabilities. This judgment establishes case law to say that the policy unlawfully discriminates in cases where adults cannot share a bedroom due to a disability and in cases where a non-resident overnight carer is required for a child.
The Department for Work and Pensions has issued a memo advising that no immediate action needs to be taken by local authorities following the judgment. However, it is likely that the judgment will require that the regulations be amended to add new exemptions to the policy.
Bedroom tax in Northern Ireland
The bedroom tax will be implemented in Northern Ireland on 23 January 2017. It will be fully mitigated until 2020, so tenants in Northern Ireland should not be immediately affected by this policy. The policy allows for a reduction to be made to claimant's Housing Benefit where the person is seen to be under-occupying their social home. The regulations currently allow a bedroom for
- an adult couple
- any other adult over 16
- a disabled child under 16 who can't share a bedroom because of their disability
- two children of the same sex under 16
- two children under 10 (including children of the opposite sex)
- a foster child (only 1 bedroom is allowed regardless of the number or sex of the children)
- a child who is currently serving in HM Armed Forces but who intends to return home
- an overnight carer where the claimant or their partner has a proven, medical need for overnight care.
Welfare reform in Northern Ireland