The government has ditched plans to appeal a legal ruling concerning a housing benefit claim for disabled children following changes to its ‘bedroom tax’ announced yesterday.
The Department for Work and Pensions has issued an urgent bulletin saying it will not take its appeal over the ‘Gorry versus Wiltshire Council’ case to the Supreme Court.
The Court of Appeal ruled in May last year the local housing allowance size criteria discriminated against the Gorry family on grounds of disability.
One child had spina bifida and the other had Down’s Syndrome. The court ruled children with severe disability could not always be expected to share a bedroom because of additional needs they may have due to their disability.
Housing benefit rules state children under the age of 10 should share a room regardless of gender, and those under the age of 16 should share if they are the same sex. The Gorry case related to a claim for housing benefit to cover private rented sector costs, but the same size criteria will be used for the social housing sector under the ‘bedroom tax’, which comes in from 1 April.
This will reduce housing benefit payments for social housing tenants of working age who are deemed to be under-occupying. Yesterday work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith announced exemptions for foster carers and parents of members of the armed forces. He also said guidance would make it clear that councils should use discretionary payments to support families with severely disabled children.