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Landmark ‘Wet Room’ Ruling Blows Holes In #BedroomTax

September 12, 2013

In a ruling that could open the floodgates for thousands to challenge the under-occupancy legislation, a tribunal found that David Nelson’s spare room was too small to be a bedroom.

And his brother Ian successfully argued that his “spare” room should be turned into a wet room because he struggles to get in and out of the bath.

Around 660,000 social housing tenants across the country have seen their housing benefit reduced by an average of £14 per week because they have an unused bedroom.

The disabled, foster carers and those with children in the armed forces are exempt from the rules.

David, 57, from Glenrothes, Fife, argued that his spare room was too small to be taxed. He said that at just 50 square feet, the room could not be classed as a bedroom but is a box room. Ian, who only has one leg, successfully argued that his “spare” room should be turned into a wet room because he struggles to get into a bath.

At an independent tribunal held in Kirkcaldy, Simon Collins QC ruled that neither brother should have their housing benefits cut as their rooms should be exempt.

Mr Collins, a first tier tribunal judge, ruled that a room under 50 square feet is not a bedroom and a room measuring between 50 and 70 square feet is only suitable for children under 10.

The ruling is expected to spark a deluge of appeals from the 75,000 people in Scotland said to be affected by the benefits cut.

his underlines the already existing concerns that the bedroom tax is in breach of human rights

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

David said: “I just don’t know how they could class this as a bedroom.

“You could maybe get a child’s bed in here but even that would be a stretch.

“The council put me in arrears with the bedroom tax but hopefully I won’t have to pay that now.

“A few people along with me – including my brother – won their appeals at the same time. It is great news. I’m delighted and I hope it sets a precedent for other people in the same situation.”

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said after the ruling: “This underlines the already existing concerns that the bedroom tax is in breach of human rights.”

But a spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions said that the Scottish Government had been given money by Westminster to ensure that vulnerable people are not badly affected by the legislation.

She said: “It’s simply not affordable to pay housing benefit for people to have spare rooms, and our reforms in the social sector mean families receive help for the number of bedrooms they need.

“These are exactly the same rules as in the private sector.

“Scotland has been given £10million this year to help vulnerable people.

“We are monitoring this spending carefully.”

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