The court cases:
Anyone claiming housing benefit continuously since 1st January 1996 is exempt from the bedroom tax:
3000 households in the West Midlands are in line for a rebate as a result. If this affects you, there is a form letter here that you can use.
Disabled couples who need separate bedrooms do not have a spare bedroom so should not have had benefits cut
A bedroom must be in use as a bedroom, not just defined as such on the tenancy agreement:
This one means that anyone who has a box room, too small to be used as a bedroom shouldn’t have to pay. It means anyone using a bedroom as storage space for disability aids, or with a room converted into a lift is exempt. It means anyone who uses their other rooms for a study or dining room or any purpose other than as a bedroom should be exempt. This has happened because “bedroom” was never defined in the legislation, and IDS just thought that what was on the tenancy agreement was all that matters. Happily this isn’t the case. The DWP have said they will not be appealing this ruling.
Separated parents with visiting children have the right to keep a room for them:
This is a huge victory, with many people facing a forced move to a one bedroom property that would mean their children couldn’t stay overnight. Now they will not be penalised for seeking to maintain a complete relationship with their children.
These court cases will keep rolling in because despite IDS’ insistent belief that people are lounging it up in massive houses at the expense of the taxpayer, because the reality is that most people are only able to access social housing with the number of bedrooms they need. The only time that housing associations and councils are likely to offer someone a house with more bedrooms than they need is because the housing is not in demand and would be unlet otherwise – leading to houses now being boarded up as a result of people being forced to move – or 2/3 bedroom flats considered unsuitable for families because of being in high rises.
Right from the start of this policy we have been saying how stupid, ill thought out and downright disastrous this policy would be. We thought the disaster would be for the people affected, which it is, but it is also a disaster for Iain Duncan-Smith, whose idiocy and zealotry has once again led to a total policy failure. When workfare was ruled illegal, he enacted retroactive legislation to rewrite history. Whenever Universal Credit is shown to be an impossible failure in implementation, he denies any problem and claims that they are still on time and on track. When Universal Jobmatch wins the worst website in the recruitment industry’s own awards, he just ignores the expensive failure. Now the Bedroom tax is falling down around his ears, which of these tactics will he follow? Perhaps he will simply try to ride it out until the inevitable Tory loss in 2015 and the move back to shadow cabinet where he wouldn’t have to admit he was wrong.