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‘Bedroom tax’ ruled unlawful by Court of Appeal

27 January 2016

Today, the so-called bedroom tax has been declared discriminatory by Court of Appeal judges, following a legal challenge by grandparents who care for their disabled grandson, and a survivor of domestic violence.


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Bedroom tax graphicThe Court of Appeal has granted permission to the Secretary of State to appeal to the Supreme Court against today’s decision that the discrimination caused by the bedroom tax breaks the law.

Paul and Susan Rutherford care for their profoundly disabled 14-year-old grandson and live in a specially adapted home, which has a room for a professional care worker to stay when providing overnight care. This has been deemed as a spare bedroom and, as a result, their housing benefit has been reduced. This is despite there being an exemption for disabled adults in the same situation. Today, the Court of Appeal judges accepted that the bedroom tax unlawfully discriminates against disabled children requiring overnight care, as it does not allow for an additional bedroom for their overnight carer. 

Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Carers UK, gave a statement of evidence in the original case which was referenced in today’s judgment. Ms Holzhausen argued that families who have a clear need for additional bedrooms for a carer should be entitled to an additional room; and that alternatives suggested by the government – such as moving to smaller accommodation or taking in a lodger – are not appropriate for carers.

60,000 carers are currently affected by the bedroom tax.

Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“This policy is having a catastrophic impact on families, many of whom are already struggling practically, emotionally and financially to care for seriously-ill or disabled loved ones.
“Carers UK has argued that the policy unfairly penalises carers since it was first introduced in April 2013. Our research shows that those carers who are affected by the bedroom tax are being left unable to pay their electricity and heating bills and some families are falling behind on their rent and facing eviction.
“Following today’s ruling, we urge the Government to amend the regulations to protect carers and their families. The policy is clearly having a devastating impact on vulnerable families and the Government cannot allow this to continue.”

Media contact

Spokespeople are available upon request.

Please contact Lisa Gilbert, Senior Media and Case Study Officer at Carers UK on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 020 7378 4937 or 07534 630 667 (out of hours).

Notes to editors

About the Bedroom Tax

In April 2013 major changes were made to the support provided to people who need help with their rent through Housing Benefit. One of these changes is called the Housing Benefit Size Criteria Rules, commonly referred to as the ‘bedroom tax', or the Government calls it the 'spare room subsidy'.

It means that working age people who get help towards their rent through Housing Benefit will have the amount they can receive restricted if they are considered to have too many bedrooms. Similar rules will also apply to people who claim Universal Credit. This is a new benefit that is gradually replacing a number of existing benefits, including Housing Benefit.

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