Every year since 2007, thousands of bloggers have come together for one day to talk about one important issue. Previously, bloggers have focused on the issues of poverty, water and climate change. This year, we discuss Human Rights:
Recently a woman from Glasgow with primary progressive multiple sclerosis won a ruling (thought to be the first of its kind) that changes to housing benefit breached her human rights, paving the way for similar appeals.
Since April this year, social tenants who are deemed to have too many rooms have had their housing benefit cut, the so-called ‘spare room subsidy’ or ‘bedroom tax’. The woman in this case lives with her husband in a two bedroom house, and lost 14% of their housing benefit, resulting in arrears with their housing association.
However, tribunal judge Lyndy Boyd ruled that the woman’s case must be viewed within the context of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006, and ‘it would be incompatible with the appellant’s rights under Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights read with Article 1.’
Due to the woman’s severe disability, she is not able to share a bedroom with her husband (who also provides care during the night), and as such, their house is not under-occupied. The tribunal ruled that they required a bedroom each and a decision to cut their housing benefit therefore breached her human rights.
The woman’s bedroom measures 3.2m by 3.1m. Her ceiling tracking hoist is 3m by 3m, her hospital bed is 2.2m by 1m. She also needs her electric wheelchair next to her bed, a wheelchair ramp, remote power door entry, specially widened doors and a wet room. She is assisted by specialist carers three times a day who also need to be able to move around the room freely.
The Department of Work and Pensions have commented only to say ‘we will need to look at this particular decision in detail’ and that ‘tribunal decisions at this level do not set a precedent.’ Therefore anyone else in a similar situation could also have to endure the stress and humiliation of this process. We can only imagine what this couple went through whilst still having to live and cope with severe disability on a day-to-day basis.
I for one though am full of admiration that they found the strength to take the case to tribunal. The DWP may claim this is not a precedent, but this couple has surely given a much-needed voice to thousands.