Rutherford Bedroom Tax appeal allowed

27 January 2016

In R (On the Application Of Rutherford and Ors) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2016] EWCA Civ 29, the Court of Appeal has held that Regulation B13 of the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 – the ‘bedroom tax’ – discriminates unlawfully against (i) the families of disabled children who need a room in their house for overnight carers, and (ii) domestic violence sufferers who are part of a ‘sanctuary’ scheme. The Rutherfords are represented by Richard Drabble QC and Garden Court North Chambers’ Tom Royston, instructed by Child Poverty Action Group.

In both cases before the Court, there was in the Court of Appeal’s view an inadequate basis for distinguishing the ratio of Burnip v Birmingham City Council & Anor [2012] EWCA Civ 629, [2013] PTSR 117 [2016] EWCA Civ 29

Additionally, regarding children who need a room in their house for overnight carers, it was ‘very difficult to justify’ treating children worse than adults (adults can get an extra room for an overnight carer), especially as the Secretary of State has argued that other aspects of the bedroom tax are designed to give children especially advantageous treatment.

The Court of Appeal consequently accepted that the discriminatory treatment was manifestly without reasonable foundation.

Allowing the appeals of Rutherford and  A, the Court has granted the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

A Public Sector Equality Duty argument in A, the ‘sanctuary’ case, failed, but A has been given permission to cross-appeal to the Supreme Court.

See also CPAG Press Release: Court of Appeal Rules that “Bedroom Tax” is unlawful.

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