The supreme court is to hear a legal challenge against the government’s bedroom tax from five people who argue it discriminates against the weak and vulnerable.
The five cases at the centre of the proceedings on Monday relate to people who have so far lost their cases at both the high court and court of appeal.
One challenge is that of Charlotte Carmichael, who has spina bifida. She lives with her husband in a two-bedroom housing association flat in Stockport, Greater Manchester. Her condition means she has to sleep in a fixed position in a hospital bed with an electronic pressure mattress. There is not enough space for a second bed so her husband sleeps in a separate bedroom.
When the new regulations were introduced the couple had their housing benefit reduced by 14%.
Another appellant is widower Richard Rourke, from Derbyshire, who uses a wheelchair. He is a council tenant and lives in a three-bedroom bungalow. His disabled stepdaughter used to live with him outside of university term times.
Rourke uses the third bedroom, which is a box room, to store his equipment, including a hoist for lifting him, his power chair and shower seat.
[Another challenger was mentioned at this point in the original article, but according to Paul Rutherford (below) this was in contempt of court so it has been excised from this excerpt.]
Mervyn Drage, from Manchester, occupies a three-bedroom flat in a high-rise tower block, and has lived there for 19 years. He suffers from mental health problems, and various physical problems.
His legal team say his conditions are exacerbated by stress, anxiety and changes to routine, and he is “very anxious about the prospect of having to move if his full housing benefit entitlement is not reinstated”.
Paul and Susan Rutherford, from Pembrokeshire, who won their case at the court of appeal – a ruling being challenged by the government at the supreme court – care for their severely disabled grandson, Warren, in a specially adapted three-bedroom bungalow.
They can only care for Warren with the help of paid carers who regularly stay overnight.
Lawyers say the current regulations allow for an additional bedroom if a disabled adult requires overnight care but not for a disabled child in the same situation.
The discretionary payments to cover their shortfall in rent run out next month, and their legal team says there is no guarantee they will continue.
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