The way the Government provides support to people who need help with their rent through Housing Benefit has changed. One of these changes is called the Housing Benefit Size Criteria Rules, commonly referred to as the 'bedroom tax'. The change means that social housing tenants of working age who get help towards their rent through Housing Benefit will have the amount they receive restricted if they are considered to have too many bedrooms.
There have been several recent appeals on the implementation of the ‘bedroom tax’ at First Tier Tribunal level which have been successful. These successful First Tier Tribunal (FTT) bedroom tax appeals are not legally binding on other First Tier Tribunals but they do show that arguments on grounds of Human Rights and severe disability in appealing 'bedroom tax' decisions are working.
If the unsuccessful councils in these First Tier Tribunal cases chose to appeal to the Upper Tribunal and the tenant is again successful in overturning the original 'bedroom tax' decision, then the decision in favour of the tenant will become legally binding and set a legal precedent which other courts will need to follow when deciding later cases with similar issues.
We have looked in to the recent successful bedroom tax appeals at First Tier Tribunal and amended our 'bedroom tax' toolkit to include these successful arguments.
If you are affected you will have received a letter from your council telling you about the decision. You have one month from the date of the letter to challenge the decision. We’ve put together the toolkit below to help you.
The kit consists of a standard letter and seven arguments. Each argument outlines a different reason why you may think the decision is wrong. You may choose one or more of these arguments – whichever are relevant to you. The arguments are as follows:
Argument 1: If you or your partner need overnight care from someone who does not usually live with you and so need an extra room. (You may find it useful to read our factsheet on the Bedroom Tax before using this argument).
Argument 2: If an adult son or daughter, a parent or another adult needs overnight care from someone who does not usually live with you and so you need an extra room. (You may find it useful to read our factsheet on the Bedroom Tax before using this argument).
Argument 3: If you or your spouse or partner needs their own room.
Argument 4: If a member of your household needs an extra room for other reasons.
Argument 5: If your home has been specially adapted to meet the needs of a disabled person.
Argument 6: If someone in the household has mental or physical health problems.
Argument 7: If the room in question is not large enough to be classed as a bedroom.
It is important to know that these arguments are all untested at present. However, if you have not appealed you could be affected by what is known as the ‘anti-test case’ rules. This means that you cannot benefit from the success of any court case for past loss unless you appealed yourself.
While it is possible that these arguments may be successful we cannot guarantee this.
How to use the toolkit
To use the toolkit you should download the draft letter and one or more of the arguments – whichever are relevant to you. You will need to copy and paste the text from the draft letter into a document that you can edit such as Microsoft Word. You must then copy and paste your selected arguments into the letter where instructed to do so. You will also need to add details of your personal circumstances and we have included with each argument some points you might want to raise.
The sections in the letter and in the draft arguments which you will need to edit yourself are coloured in red.
Thanks to Govan Law Centre for suggesting the Human Rights Act 1998 arguments and the format of this toolkit.