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Rutherfords Tell PM: ‘Visit Our Home And You’ll Drop #BedroomTax’

June 4, 2014

Paul Rutherford, grandfather to Warren Todd, a 14-year-old boy with a rare genetic disorder, knows that David Cameron must have an inkling of what his family goes through every day.

Warren is one of only 100 known cases of Potocki-Shaffer syndrome in the world. The condition affects every single part of his life.

Like David and Samantha Cameron’s son, Ivan , who died at the age of six in 2009, he needs round-the-clock care. Ivan lived with cerebral palsy and a rare and severe form of epilepsy known as Ohtahara syndrome.

Warren also has epilepsy, added to severe learning disabilities and skeletal problems.

His grandparents Paul and Sue can only imagine the pain the Camerons went through when they lost their “­beautiful boy”.

That’s why they make their offer ­carefully and without malice.

“We want to ask David Cameron to come to our home and visit our family,” Paul, 56, says. “We think if he could see how we live and what we do, and meet Warren, he would change his mind about the Bedroom Tax.”

Last week, Paul and Sue lost a case in the High Court against David Cameron’s tax . It means they will have to continue to pay.

On May 14, I went to court with the family to watch Rutherford v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. It summed up what the Bedroom Tax is and does – a legislative juggernaut shattering lives in its wake.

On the left side of Court 27 at the Royal Courts of Justice, sat Paul and Sue, two disabled people who themselves care for a disabled boy, supported by the Child Poverty Action Group. The journey from West Wales had taken them hours and they had to leave Warren in respite care. On the right, an army of ­Department for Work and Pensions barristers, civil servants and press officers.

Paul Rutherford, attached to oxygen for a severe lung condition, frequently had to turn up the supply from the box in his bag.

The Prime Minister has claimed on several occasions that ­disabled people are exempt from the Bedroom Tax – but if this were the case the Rutherfords would never have been in court.

“It’s just not true,” says Paul, from Clynderwen, Pembrokeshire. “In our case and in very many others. If he comes to our home he will be able to see that for himself.”

In fact, there are only two very narrow exceptions for disabled people – for some children who cannot share with siblings and for some adults who need a room for overnight carers.

But despite a public letter from the heads of 18 charities from the RNIB to Mencap, the Prime Minister has never corrected his mistake.

Meanwhile, the Rutherfords, who look after their grandson because Warren’s mum has depression, are expected to pay £14 week from already stretched carer and disability benefits.

After a massive media campaign, they eventually won the right to Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) to make up the ­shortfall. But they were initially turned down, and the payments have to be fought for again every year.

That’s why the Child Poverty Action Group brought a judicial review on the Rutherfords’ behalf.

After all, how can the family pay the so-called spare room subsidy when they don’t have a spare room – just a room for Warren’s ­equipment where his carers sleep?

And how can Warren be penalised for “under-occupying” a home specifically built for him by the local council to fit the severity of his needs?

And how would it possibly help the taxpayer for the Rutherfords to move out and adapt another smaller home, while a larger family occupied their adapted bungalow?

The Rutherfords’ barrister, Richard Drabble QC, argued that disabled adults weren’t charged the Bedroom Tax if they needed overnight care, so why should children pay it?

“We are arguing that this ­discriminates against disabled children contrary to Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights,” he told the court.

On Friday, we found out that Mr Justice Stuart-Smith did not agree. Even though he said it was “at the forefront of my mind that Warren is grievously ­disabled and that his grandparents have undertaken a heavy responsibility and burden”, he said he had to set that against “extreme national financial austerity”.

Yet Warren’s grandparents currently do a job it would cost the state £250,000 to provide. Meanwhile, DHP is costing the Government hundreds of millions.

The DWP said it was “pleased” with the court’s decision and called the Bedroom Tax “fair and necessary”.

“We have made £345million available to councils since the reforms were introduced to help families who may need extra support,” a spokesman said.

“The spare room subsidy… will give families in overcrowded accommodation hope of finding an appropriately sized property and will help bring the housing benefit bill under control.”

CPAG and the Rutherfords will now appeal. In the meantime, Paul hopes Cameron will accept his ­invitation to visit Warren.

This week would be a good week as it’s the first Rare ­Chromosomal Disorder Awareness Week, aimed at telling people about the challenges of living with a rare condition.

“Of all the politicians in government, I think David Cameron would ­understand what we are going through,” Paul says. “I really think it would change his mind.”

7 Comments leave one →
  1. June 4, 2014 11:22 am

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

  2. June 4, 2014 12:09 pm

    “We have made £345million available to councils since the reforms were introduced to help families who may need extra support,” a spokesman said.
    …but we are made aware that most councils did not distribute the money – there is a need for policing this, otherwise the Rutherford case would not have happened.

  3. June 4, 2014 4:35 pm

    Reblogged this on Citizens, not serfs.

  4. Nick permalink
    June 4, 2014 4:38 pm

    the pm would never change his mind as it’s quite clear he never cared for his son at all as if he did he would have shown care to others of which he never has

  5. June 5, 2014 6:26 pm

    Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.


  1. Family with disabled Grandson tells David Cameron: ‘Visit our home and you’ll drop the Bedroom Tax’ | Dancing Giraffe
  2. Family with disabled Grandson tells David Cameron: ‘Visit our home and you’ll drop the Bedroom Tax’ | The Growing Divide

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