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The power of judicial review: bedroom tax unlawful says Court of Appeal

Introduced back in 2013, the government’s ‘bedroom tax’ is a charge that reduces housing benefit for people occupying accommodation which has more bedrooms than considered necessary, according to a prescribed formula.  The aim of the controversial tax is to encourage people to move out of the larger homes and into smaller and less expensive accommodation.

The regulations, however, were challenged by judicial review in two cases.

The first, a female domestic violence victim known as A, argued that the additional room was used as a ‘panic room’ which had been made secure to provide her with safety from a former partner who had been extremely violent towards her.

The second was a disabled boy known as W who stayed with his grandparents and required the extra room for an overnight carer.

In a judgment handed down just a few weeks ago, the Court of Appeal concluded that the two cases ought to have fallen within the set of defined cases in the regulations which allow an additional bedroom.

In the teenager’s case, the court found that the regulations amounted to unlawful discrimination under Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights because only adults in need of overnight carers fell within the exception allowing an extra room and the court found that the difference in treatment between adults and children could not be justified.

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has been given permission to appeal to the The Supreme Court, the United Kingdom’s highest court, therefore we are unlikely to have heard the last of this issue.

Public law and judicial review solicitor, Angela Sandhal, commenting on the case said: “The case highlights the importance of judicial review as an effective remedy for vulnerable individuals wishing to challenge decisions, policies and regulations made by the government and other public bodies, most usually when they have profound consequences on their lives as was the case here.”

If you would like to know more about how our team of public law and judicial review experts might be able to assist you in respect of any public body decision or policy that impacts on your health, care, education, property or environment then please contact us and will be happy to discuss your options with you. Call 013012 320621 or email

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