Charity wins appeal over bedroom tax for Sheffield family

Sheffield Law Centre......Pictured is Douglas Johnson, Equality Rights Worker
Sheffield Law Centre......Pictured is Douglas Johnson, Equality Rights Worker
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A CHARITY has secured exemption from the ‘bedroom tax’ for a Sheffield family – and say others could have success too.

The family were originally told by Sheffield Council that they would have to pay the tax because their children could share a bedroom – despite one of them being severely disabled.

In 2012, the family were moved to a bigger property because their daughter needed her own room.

However, earlier this year they were warned they would have to pay the bedroom tax or move to a small home.

The Sheffield Law Centre successfully argued the ‘tax’, which came into effect last Monday, was a breach of the family’s human rights because they were not being treated differently from non-disabled families, despite the impact of the bedroom tax being worse on them than families where children can share a room.

The verdict means the family, who declined to be named, will now not be penalised by the bedroom tax.

Douglas Johnson, of Sheffield Law Centre, based on Joiner Street in the city centre, said: “The whole point of Sheffield Council rehousing this family in 2012 was because they genuinely realised her need for adequate housing.

“I’m really pleased the council’s benefits service has made the right decision when there is so much concern about the impact of the bedroom tax.”

Mr Johnson said a cut to legal aid for advice on welfare benefits – which came into force on the same day as the bedroom tax – will stop people from getting the advice they need.

Mr Johnson said: “In this case, we have found a resolution.

“However, the new rules from Government will impact severely on many low-income families.

“On the same day the bedroom tax came into force, the Government cut legal aid for advice on welfare benefits, which will stop many people getting the advice that they need.”

He said other families who think they might be exempt from the cuts should get in touch with the council immediately.

Mr Johnson said: “There are lots of complexities to this subject, such as there being no definition about when a room becomes a bedroom, or the ‘boxroom’ argument.

“If anyone thinks they’ve got an unusual case, then the first thing they should do is get in touch with their council.

“There are lots of unique circumstances which the council may not know about, which may mean the bedroom tax does not apply.”