Blog Action Day – Human Rights

Blog Action Day 2013Every 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.

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10 thoughts on “Blog Action Day – Human Rights

  1. David says:

    Morning it happens all round the country, the rules are if 2 people live together you are a couple according to the government irrespective of any medical conditions 1 has or equipment that person needs to live and maintain their life.
    Vicki and I were prepared to fight, but as I am over 61 there will be no change in my housing benefit. There are many couples around the country that are being treated this way, anyone with a serious condition do not have the will of energy to fight against official’s who know nothing about regarding disabling conditions of which there are many. Once again being disabled means that you are easy prey for government to save money, or business to make easy profit. The national slogan should be £££££ disabled we want your money £££££. Well that’s how i feel.
    well done keep fighting the cause. xxx David

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Couldn’t agree more David, and thank you for your insight. And yes, it’s about having the energy to fight yet another fight. Truly shocking but a fantastic victory. X

  2. Julie says:

    The way some people are being treated by this government is shameful. What particularly concerns me are those that do not have close family or friends to help them with these issues. I think there must be many people suffering that we do not hear about. It is stories like this that make me fearful for my future.

    • stumbling in flats says:

      It absolutely shocks me too. It’s beyond comprehensible that this couple had to fight this case.
      It’s not quite the same, but the tribunal I launched against my employers who sacked me for having MS was exhausting. Without the support of my family and friends, I would never have done it. So you’re right, what about those who don’t have that? And therefore have no voice?

  3. David says:

    Watched PMQs today one MP told a farmer with cancer went in front of Atos December 2012 his benefit reduced to £70 for him and his wife, he appealed sill not heard but he died last week. The MP was really angry and DC could not give a straight reply, except that Atos is working, he should be ashamed but no nothing of the sort.That’s out PM. x David

    • stumbling in flats says:

      I watched some of that too and also the bit about zero hours contracts – yet another way of preying on the vulnerable.

  4. Oh, I hope this victory does set a precedent. How awful for people in this type of situation. If some of the people making such rules actually HAD a disability or a loved one w/ a disability, don’t you think the rules would change right quick?? Or at least be questioned a lot more…

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Isn’t it awful? Kind of Dickensian that this can actually happen in 2013. Sadly, I think we will hear more horror stories, but hopefully some positive ones too.

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