Monday 7 July 2014

Glasgow tenant with learning disabilities wins bedroom tax appeal with help from Govan Law Centre

Govan Law Centre (GLC) has secured a successful appeal at the First Tier Tribunal in an unusual case. Our client has learning disabilities and experiences a high level of anxiety. She has lived in her tenancy for some years and has an essential support network in her local area.

Agencies involved with our client were of the opinion that to move home would cause her extreme distress and be detrimental to her health. Our client is unable to deal with paperwork and benefits did not understand the concept of the underoccupancy charge or the process of applying for discretionary housing payments. Our client had accrued rent arrears  before she accessed support to secure discretionary assistance and this had caused her to experience high levels of anxiety.
In addition, being advised that discretionary housing payments were not guaranteed and had to re-applied for caused her great distress. It was recognised that our client did not have a specific need for an additional bedroom. She said herself she did not ask for an extra bedroom when she was allocated her tenancy and suggested that she would board it up if this would stop her being charged for this room.

Rather our client had a specific need, due to her disabilities to remain in her current home. It was an irrefutable reality that she was unable to detach her ‘spare’ room from her home, Our client's need to remain in her current accommodation, due to her disabilities and health needs were not considered by the bedroom tax regulation.
We submitted that this was discrimination against our client and that the provision of discretionary housing payments did not temper this discrimination in our client’s case. We asked that the local authority made additional no discretionary payment for our client so as to comply with their Public Sector Equality duties. This was accepted by the Tribunal.  The client was represented by Claire Findlay, welfare rights and financial inclusion officer with GLC's Prevention of Homelessness Project.