Panic room woman challenges bedroom tax – The Guardian

This one defies belief. A woman is being charged bedroom tax on a secure panic room that was installed in her home to protect her from a violent ex-partner. Here’s The Guardian‘s version of the story (any boldings mine):

A woman whose council home has been fitted with a secure panic room to protect her from a violent ex-partner is going to court on Wednesday to challenge the government’s so-called bedroom tax.

The work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, has refused to withdraw the demand despite losing an earlier attempt to have the test case dismissed.

The woman, who lives in a three-bedroom property with her 11-year-old son, has been the victim of rape, assault, harassment, stalking and threats to kill at the hands of her former partner. She is not being identified.

The local council has told her she will lose £11.65 a week from her benefits on the grounds that she has a spare room, which is the panic room.

Ministers argue that the bedroom tax, which the DWP calls the spare room subsidy, will encourage people to move to smaller properties, saving around £480m a year from the government’s housing benefit bill.

The woman, referred in the case as A, is one of a small number of victims of domestic violence who will be affected by the policy. According to figures obtained through freedom of information inquiries from 79 local authorities, almost one in 20 households benefiting from similar sanctuary schemes for people at risk of severe domestic violence have been affected by the under-occupancy penalty. Across the country, 281 such households are facing bedroom tax demands.

The high court in London will hear her lawyers argue in a judicial review challenge that the tax is discriminatory and will have a devastating impact on A and her son. They will claim that it has a disproportionate effect on victims of domestic violence, most of whom are women.

A women’s refuge charity has spent thousands of pounds at A’s property reinforcing window frames and the front door and making the back garden more secure. A panic space has been installed, with alarms linked to the police station.

The woman’s housing benefit has been reduced by 14% because of the bedroom tax policy.

Rebekah Carrier, the solicitor acting for A, said: “These changes to housing benefit are having a catastrophic impact upon vulnerable people across the country. Our client’s life is at risk and she is terrified. She lives in a property which has been specially adapted by the police, at great expense, to protect her and her child. It is ridiculous that she is now being told she must move to another property (where she will not have any of these protections) or else take in a lodger.

“She is a vulnerable single parent who has been a victim of rape and assault. The secretary of state cannot seriously suggest that it is appropriate for her to take a stranger into her home.”

A’s claim is supported by evidence from the charity Women’s Aid on the prevalence of domestic violence and the important function of sanctuary schemes in providing protection and preventing homelessness for those at risk.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “Sanctuary schemes are created to keep extremely vulnerable women and children safe, at a time when they are trying to rebuild their lives after surviving domestic violence. An investment has been made in keeping these women safe and to move these families out of their homes is a false economy as it will cost further money to provide security as the new property, and this may provide a reduced level of safety, putting them at risk.

“It is important to remember that on average two women every week are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales. Protecting abused women and their children is a matter of life and death, and we should always remember this.”

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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12 thoughts on “Panic room woman challenges bedroom tax – The Guardian

  1. Thomas M

    This government is the lowest of the low, bothering even rape victims. Roll on 2015 and a chance to eject it from power.

  2. joanna may

    If I ever met IDS I would happily kick this Monster in the family jewels, whilst wearing steel toe-capped boots, and I would happily go to prison for the privilege!!!

  3. Chris Kitcher

    How the hell does a creature like Duncan-Smith get into and remain in power in a civilised country. For some time I have called for some form of personality and intelligence testing for MP’s so as to prevent creatures such as Duncan-Smith being in his position.

  4. jaypot2012

    This really has made my blood boil – this woman, and others like her, has already gone through hell and back, and now this stuck-up, pig-ignorant, excuse for a man decides she is not worth protecting by making her pay for her panic room.
    Let me have just 5 mins with IDS on his own, just 5 mins that’s all I ask.

  5. Daniel

    Thing is Mike, most politically aware people know that the “Spare room subsidy” is not about saving money, it’s about transferring as many of the social tenants from state to private landlords as possible, and in order to achieve this, there must be as few exceptions as possible. Any exceptions are pounds of public money lost to the private landlords, and that would never do!

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      You mean any exceptions are pounds of public money that the private landlords won’t get? That’s right.

  6. che

    it defies belief that no one has tried to take this piece of excrement out before. I would happily do a prison stretch to do him some serious harm.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      He really isn’t worth it. He causes enough harm to people as it is, without anyone doing themselves the self-harm that is implied by committing a crime of violence on him and then going to prison for it.

  7. Sandy

    No he isn’t But how come some Labour MP has been spattered all over the media, forcing her to resign over some daft photo, yet there is nothing about IDS laughing at a rape victim and the totally insane bedroom tax?

    Now that is wrong. Am I the only person to think the BBC, et al, are a load of rubbish? I’ve now torn up my BBC TV card for being so partisan. There was a time when they were renowned for being impartial the world over. No longer; so stuff them!

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      No, you’re one of many, many people who think the BBC have gone badly wrong over the last few years.

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