Leeds Council leader slams ‘Bedroom Tax’ court ruling

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THE leader of Leeds City Council hit out at a High Court ruling that the Government’s so-called Bedroom Tax does not discriminate against disabled people.

The High Court ruled yesterday that the tax did not unlawfully discriminate against disabled people in social housing.

New housing benefit regulations, introduced on April 1, led to reductions in benefit payments to tenants assessed to be under-occupying their accommodation.

Under new “size criteria”, tenants with one spare bedroom have seen their benefit payments reduced by 14 per cent for one spare bedroom.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of the council, said families are punished under the policy.

He said: “The Government’s defence of its flawed bedroom tax policy in the High Court shows its uncaring attitude towards disabled people living in social housing on very low incomes.

“This policy particularly punishes families with vulnerable or disabled children. That is why I have such sympathy for those who have lost their case in court.

“I hope ministers will recognise just what an impact policies are having on families whose children cannot share a room because of their disabilities.

“These are families where, contrary to Government rules, children cannot share a room – that may be because a child is at risk of violence from a sibling, or because a child is suffering trauma as a result of domestic violence or abuse.”

Coun Wakefield added: “In Leeds, we are trying to do all we can to help vulnerable people despite cuts to our own budgets.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman added: “Reform of housing benefit in the social sector is essential, so the taxpayer does not pay for people’s extra bedrooms.”

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