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Victory for Carers in Bedroom Tax Judgment

09 November 2016

Today, in a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court has ruled in favour of two families providing care to disabled loved ones, stating they should be exempt from the ‘Bedroom Tax’.

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 care worker to stay when providing overnight care. This had been deemed as a spare bedroom and, as a result, their housing benefit had been reduced. This is despite there being an exemption for disabled adults in the same situation.

In January 2016, the Court of Appeal judges accepted that the bedroom tax unlawfully discriminated against disabled children requiring overnight care. The Government appealed against this Judgment, however this appeal was today dismissed by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court also ruled in favour of Jacqueline and Jayson Carmichael, who are unable to share a bedroom due to Jacqueline’s severe disability. The Court ruled that adult partners who cannot share a bedroom due to disability should be treated no differently from disabled children who cannot share a room, for whom there is currently an exemption in place.

Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Carers UK, gave a statement of evidence in support in the original Rutherford case. Carers UK also provided evidence that was used in a Witness Statement in the Supreme Court hearing.

In November 2013, the Government stated that that 60,000 households including someone entitled to Carer’s Allowance are affected by the Bedroom Tax [1].

Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“We warmly welcome the Supreme Court’s judgment that applying the Bedroom Tax to the Carmichael and Rutherford families unfairly discriminates against disabled people. Today is a victory for these two families who have fought a long and determined battle that also has hugely important implications for many more disabled children and adults and for their families.

Carers UK has argued that the policy unfairly penalises carers since it was first introduced in April 2013 and consistently called on the Government to look at its catastrophic impact on people caring for loved ones. These so called ‘extra’ bedrooms are not spare but essential for people with disabilities and those caring for them.

Today the Court recognised that because of their disabilities Warren Rutherford and Jacqueline Carmichael have a clear need for an extra bedroom.

The Government must now act to amend the regulations to stop the devastating impact on families like the Carmichaels and the Rutherfords but should go further.

Thousands of other carers in different circumstances are having to pay the Bedroom Tax or living with the fear that their Discretionary Housing Payment won’t be renewed. Families are providing essential care and support to those with disabilities and need the space to do so. Carers UK calls on the Government to go further than implementing the judgment and exempt all carers from the Bedroom Tax.”


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Media contact

For more information or to interview a spokesperson, please contact Kirsty Warwick on 020 7378 4937 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or Chloe Wright, Public Affairs Manager at Carers UK, on 020 7378 4942 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Notes to Editors

[1] http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm131121/text/131121w0003.htm

About Carers UK

Carers UK is a charity led by carers, for carers – our mission is to make life better for carers.

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