Aspire is hugely disappointed that the high court has ruled this morning that the Bedroom Tax/Spare Room Subsidy does not unlawfully discriminate against disabled people. This is particularly concerning given recent research which found that disabled people affected by the bedroom tax are cutting back on both every day essentials and medical expenses in order to meet payments.
The judges ruled that, although the bedroom tax does discriminate against disabled people, it is not unlawful due to the government having taken mitigating action for this by increasing Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP). We are very disappointed that the ruling did not take into consideration that the DHP is a limited pot of money and that there is no guarantee that it will reach disabled people affected. We acknowledge that the government has announced that it plans to bolster the amount available in DHP, but concerned that what happens when this runs out has yet to be addressed. It has also not been acknowledged that this is a short term and unpredictable solution, which so far has not proven to provide adequate support for disabled people.
Aspire Chief Executive Brian Carlin said, “This ruling appears to have failed to take into account the reasons why it is both harder for disabled people to move homes and why they may need larger accommodation. Many disabled people are unable to share a room or need additional space for equipment or carers. By refusing to take this into account the ruling could result in more disabled people being forced out of their own accommodation and into care homes. This will dramatically reduce their independence and quality of life. We are still hopeful that the Court of Appeal will take an approach that is less keen to unfairly discriminate against disabled people”.
The one piece of encouraging news to emerge from today was the judges’ comments regarding disabled children being exempt from the tax. With the court being highly critical of the Secretary of State for failing to make changes to Regulations regarding disabled children, despite having known these changes were required since May 2012. We hope, at least, that the government acts on these immediately. Meanwhile we will continue to lobby decision makers to raise the disastrous consequences of the Bedroom Tax for disabled people and to have this exemption extended to disabled adults.