Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.
The Judgement on which the Regs were based
What was the judgment on which the Regulations are based?

The Supreme Court judgement decided in favour of Jacqueline Carmichael whose husband had to sleep in a separate bedroom because due to her spina bifida she had to sleep on a hospital bed - and there was no room for another bed in that room. The Judges decided that there was no reasonable justification for disabled adults to be refused an additional bedroom allocation when they cannot share a room due to disability, when the rules allowed an additional bedroom for disabled children who cannot share a room.
Judge Toulson stated: "I cannot, with respect, see a sensible reason for distinguishing between adult partners who cannot share a bedroom because of disability and children who cannot do so because of disability. ".
Help for claimants in this situation pre April 2017
In response to the ruling the DWP advised local authorities that no immediate action needed to be taken by Housing Benefit Offices following this judgment; they should continue to award Discretionary Housing Payments to claimants who they consider require additional financial support. HB Bulletin U3/2016.

Some commentators believe that where a claimant is in a very similar situation to the Carmichaels that they should request that the HB Office revise their HB award and allow the extra bedroom before the Regulations are changed. Standard Letter BT4.

Either way the claimant should not be financially affected by a 'spare' bedroom if their situation is very similar to one of these cases.

They need to apply for a DHP.

If they have not done so, they can ask for a lump sum (backdated) DHP to cover the period when they could have requested one but did not - more on DHPs here.

What if the DHP is turned down?

The Supreme Court judgement should mean that it is more likely that a DHP will be awarded - and claimants can ask for the refusal of  DHP to be reconsidered (though they cannot appeal). More on DHPs generally here. However increasing pressure on DHP budgets mean this is not guaranteed.

Should a couple fail to secure a DHP, they should appeal the Bedroom Tax decision on the basis that the rules are discriminatory- because it was the availability of DHPs that led judges in the pre -Supreme Court decision to conclude that the Bedroom Tax was not discriminatory. (click here for more information). .

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