Sinn Féin slams High Court decision on 'bedroom tax'

Tue, 30/07/2013 - 14:51 -- Editor

Sinn Féin has condemned the decision today by the High Court in London that the bedroom tax did not unlawfully discriminate against people with disabilities.

Sinn Fein's Welfare spokesperson Mickey Brady MLA said: "The bedroom tax is causing widespread problems across Britain hitting the most vulnerable hardest and today's decision by the High Court in London is a devastating low to people with disabilities and campaigners.

"Sinn Fein have consistently opposed this Tory welfare reform agenda as it is an attack on the poor dressed up as reform.

"At this years Sinn Fein Ard Fheis Martin McGuinness clearly stated that if the bedroom tax is brought before the Assembly Sinn Fein will move to block it's introduction in the North.

The ‘bedroom tax’ is part of the Welfare Reform Act 2012, and will cut housing benefit for those who are deemed to have a spare bedroom in a council or housing association home.

The Government has said that the cuts in benefit will be set at 14% for one extra bedroom and 25% for two or more extra bedrooms.

The law allows for one bedroom for each person or couple in a household, with no restriction of benefit.

However, 2 children under 16 of the same gender are expected to share a room, and cannot have a bedroom each. For children under 10, 2 children are expected to share a room, regardless of gender.

An extra bedroom is permitted for a disabled tenant or a partner who needs a non-resident overnight carer.

Approved foster carers will also be allowed an additional room, so long as they have fostered a child or become an approved foster carer in the last 12 months.

Adult children in the Armed Forces will be treated as continuing to live at home when deployed on operations.

In addition, local councils have been advised to allow an extra bedroom for children who are unable to share because of severe disabilities.

The cuts in housing benefit will therefore affect a number of key groups, as follows:

Separated parents who share the care of their children, and who may have been allocated an extra bedroom to reflect this. Benefit rules mean that there must be a designated ‘main carer’ for these children, and this carer will receive the extra benefit.

The tax will also hit couples who use their ‘spare’ bedroom when recovering from an illness or operation, parents whose children visit but are not part of the household, and perhaps most controversially, disabled people including people living in adapted or specially designed properties.