A legal challenge, arguing that the Government’s controversial “bedroom tax” has violated tenants’ human rights, got underway this week.
The judicial review has been brought by human rights lobby group Liberty and concerns the impact the policy has had on couples who separate and have shared custody of their children.
Under the rules, a child is only entitled to a bedroom at one home – even if their parents are no longer living together.
Liberty believes this goes against Article 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to a private/family life and no discrimination respectively).
Rosie Brighouse, Liberty’s legal officer, said: “We hear too often that the Human Rights Act – recently threatened with repeal – is a charter for terrorists and criminals.
“Yet here it is being used to challenge a policy penalising parents who share custody of their children. The bedroom tax punishes families that don’t conform to an outdated definition and is unfair, discriminatory and wrong.”
Liberty will be representing three clients who have been adversely affected by the changes in the law.
Among them is Mark Hutchinson, from Derbyshire, whose nine-year-old daughter and 10-year-old stepson stop with him at weekends and during school holidays.
Under the rules, he is considered to have two unoccupied rooms in his three-bedroom house and as a consequence this has seen his housing benefit cut by a quarter.
The legal challenge is the latest attack on the “bedroom tax” which was introduced in April 2013 as part of wider changes to the welfare system.