Tag Archives: panic room

Who’s laughing now? DWP loses six-year fight to discriminate against victims of domestic violence

He laughed: Remember, IDS laughed at the terror he was causing a rape victim by using the Bedroom Tax to make it too expensive for her to keep a ‘panic room’. He thrives on terrorising others.

Remember when Iain Duncan Smith laughed with pleasure at putting a rape victim in fear for her life?

He had used the Department for Work and Pensions to persuade a court that she had to pay the Bedroom Tax on a panic room installed in her house to prevent further attacks against her.

As a result of the ruling, she was evicted from the house and Duncan Smith laughed with joy when he heard the news.

Since then, the people of Chingford and Woodford Green have re-elected him as their MP – thrice. They must be so proud of themselves.

But the last laugh is on him because the European Court of Human Rights has confirmed a ruling that the Bedroom Tax discriminates against victims of domestic violence.

Judges at that court ruled in October that the Bedroom Tax discriminated against the woman.

DWP lawyers tried to overturn the ruling by demanding that the case be heard in the court’s Grand Chamber – but have been rebuffed.

Now the hated ‘Department for Welfare Persecution’, as some have dubbed it, must pay the woman – a rape and assault victim – £8,600 for the “damage she suffered”.

And the victim’s legal team is calling for the government to make immediate changes to the Bedroom Tax rules, in order to make them comply with the ruling.

They say almost 300 more victims of domestic violence are in the same situation:

The department decided she and her 11-year-old son only needed two bedrooms – despite the third bedroom in the property being specially adapted by police to contain a panic room as part of a sanctuary scheme.

Research by the legal team representing ‘A’ found almost 1 in 20 households using the Sanctuary Scheme for people at risk of severe domestic violence have been affected by the bedroom tax, amounting to 281 households across the country.

Oh, and guess what?

The vast majority of people in the Sanctuary Scheme are women.

Once again we see the Conservative government discriminating against vulnerable women.

The DWP has said it is “carefully considering the court’s decision”.

In the light of all the historic evidence, we may conclude that the department’s lawyers are trying to find a loophole, so they can continue persecuting these women, who have already suffered enough.

Will we get an announcement? Or will current Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey try to brush this case under the carpet?

Source: DWP told Bedroom Tax domestic violence discrimination ruling is final – Mirror Online

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Humiliation for DWP after years-long Bedroom Tax bid to persecute a rape victim

He laughed: Remember, IDS laughed at the terror he was causing a rape victim by using the Bedroom Tax to make it too expensive for her to keep a ‘panic room’. The man thrives on terrorising others.

I said it defied belief when this story first broke.

And I said it was sickening when, hearing of the terror he was causing a rape victim by using the Bedroom Tax to make it too expensive for her to keep a ‘panic room’, Iain Duncan Smith laughed.

Well, it seems the last laugh is on him.

This is a story that began in 2014 – the DWP has been torturing a rape victim for five years.

The woman, resident 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.

Her council home was fitted with a secure panic room to protect her from this violent man.

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

Then Iain Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions imposed the bedroom tax on it, claiming it was a spare room.

The woman’s housing benefit was reduced by 14 per cent because of the bedroom tax policy.

Hers was among almost one in 20 households benefiting from similar sanctuary schemes for people at risk of severe domestic violence that have been affected by the under-occupancy penalty.

Unable to afford her rent with the added burdn of the under-occupancy charge, the woman was facing eviction when Labour raised the issue in Prime Minister’s Questions. Then-incumbent David Cameron said money was available for people in such a predicament.

And Mr Duncan Smith? He laughed about it. He thought it was funny that a woman who had been raped was being turfed out of her sanctuary against further violation.

The lady concerned – who has only ever been identified as ‘A’ – took the DWP to court – and won. The Court of Appeal ruled that the imposition of the bedroom tax was unlawful and discriminatory.

So the DWP appealed against the decision in order to force her to pay the charge anyway – or be evicted.

And the Supreme Court – to its shame – allowed it.

So the case ended up before the European Court of Human Rights*, challenging the breach of A’s rights and “other vulnerable women whose lives are at risk”.

Almost three years after her Supreme Court humiliation, judges ruled that the benefit cut discriminated against a domestic violence victim who was forced to pay extra for her panic room.

The UK’s Tory government has been ordered to pay the woman 10,000 Euros (£8,600) for the “damage she suffered”. If only it could come from Iain Duncan Smith’s salary.

Lawyers have now demanded the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) act to help almost 300 women estimated to be in a similar situation.

Clearly, considering the length of time it has taken to resolve this case, nobody should hold their breath waiting.

All the way back in 2014, Polly Neate, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “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.”

Iain Duncan Smith couldn’t care less at the time, and none of his successors have shown any change in attitude since.

Isn’t it time we stopped them from abusing anybody else?

Source: DWP Bedroom Tax dealt defeat in European Court of Human Rights – Mirror Online

*Not to be confused with the EU’s European Court of Justice.

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Man arrested after terrorising staff at office of Jess Phillips. Did they use the panic room?

Jess Phillips: Was this shot taken in her Birmingham Yardley office?

Years ago, I criticised Jess Phillips for installing a panic room in her office – on the grounds that her own poor behaviour had attracted unwanted attention to her.

I wrote that I hoped she had not demanded that the work be funded by the public purse.

Her attitude continues to put people off – as evidenced by the following response to her entirely justified criticism of Boris Johnson’s choice of language in Parliament:

Ray’s right too – she was entirely wrong to walk with dozens of other MPs to the hearing before Labour’s National Constitutional Committee that expelled anti-racism campaign Marc Wadsworth from the party on the basis of lies from her colleague Ruth Smeeth.

It is, therefore, very hard to sympathise with Ms Phillips on any level at all.

But Boris Johnson has found a way for me to do so.

As I noted above, her criticism of the language he used in the Commons chamber on September 25 was entirely justified.

He had deliberately used references to a “surrender act”, “betrayal” and “traitors” – words that appear in death threats sent to MPs.

And it seems one of the people who uses such language in his communications with MPs – or responds to it in a negative way – got the message loud and clear.

Consider:

A man has been arrested on suspicion of a public order offence following an incident outside the constituency office of the Labour MP Jess Phillips, in which the suspect is reported to have banged on the windows and shouted “fascist”.

Phillips, who represents Birmingham Yardley, said her staff had to be locked in the office while the man tried to smash the windows.

West Midlands police confirmed a 36-year-old man had been arrested outside the office on Yardley Road in Acocks Green, Birmingham.

Back in 2016, I wrote: “Nobody should be put in fear for their life while carrying out a job that doesn’t carry that kind of risk with it – and I would certainly suggest that being a representative of the people like an MP should not.”

My belief at the time was that Ms Phillips was overreacting to people who had themselves overreacted to her less-enlightened comments.

It seems that, three years later, Mr Johnson has proved her right after all.

Of course, if they didn’t actually use the panic room, it’s still an enormous waste of money – public or not.

Source: Man arrested outside office of Labour MP Jess Phillips | Politics | The Guardian

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Sickening: Court gives Iain Duncan Smith the last laugh on rape victim’s Bedroom Tax eviction

He laughed: Remember, IDS laughed at the terror he was causing a rape victim by using the Bedroom Tax to make it too expensive for her to keep a 'panic room'. The man thrives on terrorising others.

He laughed: Remember, IDS laughed at the terror he was causing a rape victim by using the Bedroom Tax to make it too expensive for her to keep a ‘panic room’. The man thrives on terrorising others.

Judges at the Supreme Court should hang their heads in shame after they gave Iain Duncan Smith another reason to laugh at the plight of a rape victim.

The woman identified as ‘A’ didn’t have a panic room fitted in her house to protect her from a “violent partner” – as the BBC report I quoted extensively below puts it. She was a rape victim who needed it to protect her against any further attacks.

When it was revealed that she was being evicted from that house because of the Bedroom Tax, Iain Duncan Smith – the man behind the policy – laughed.

He laughed.

He thought it was funny that a woman who had been raped was being turfed out of her sanctuary against further violation.

And now the Supreme Court has given him reason to laugh again.

The solicitor for ‘A’ has said her client intended to challenge the ruling in the European Court of Human Rights, for the breach of her rights and “other vulnerable women whose lives are at risk”.

On a more optimistic note, congratulations to Vox Political reader Paul Rutherford who has – at last! – won his own case against the Department for Work and Pensions.

Paul and Susan Rutherford, from Pembrokeshire, 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 said 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 court ruled in their favour.

No doubt Mr Rutherford will let us all know the details in the near future.

Note: The BBC report, below, inaccurately states that the Bedroom Tax is the removal of a subsidy for social housing tenants deemed to have “spare” rooms in their homes. This is a false claim. There was never any subsidy. The State Over-Occupation Charge, to give its official title, cuts Housing Benefit provided to people in social housing by an arbitrary amount, for no very good reason. People are allocated social housing according to the dwellings that are available to them and have no choice over whether the accommodation allocated to them is too big.

A woman who suffers from spina bifida and a couple who look after their severely disabled grandson have won their Supreme Court appeals against the so-called “bedroom tax”.

The court ruled that the government’s changes to housing benefit discriminated against them.

But five other people had similar challenges dismissed by the court.

The court said councils should be able to decide which tenants get discretionary payments to help them.

Disability campaigners have been protesting against the system, which removed subsidies for social housing tenants who were deemed to have “spare” rooms in their homes, since it was introduced by the government in 2013.

Dubbed the “bedroom tax” by Labour, tenants affected had payments cut by 14%.

For spina bifida sufferer Jacqueline Carmichael, 44, from Southport, Merseyside, the need for an extra bedroom was medical, he said, with judges unanimously ruling that “the scheme in relation to her is discriminatory”.

Her condition means she has to sleep in a hospital bed in a fixed position. There is not enough space for a second bed so her husband Jayson sleeps in a separate bedroom.

The court … ruled in favour of Pembrokeshire couple Paul and Susan Rutherford and their 15-year-old grandson Warren. Their case focused on the impact of the policy on disabled children needing overnight care.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Rutherford said: “It’s probably the best day we’ve had in the last three and a half years and we’re just really glad that it’s all over.

“Glad that we’ve won for everybody else who’s in our situation, because there’s quite a few out there who are”.

However, the judges rejected the cases of five others who have had their housing benefit reduced as a result of the government’s changes. They were:
Richard Rourke, 49, from Bakestone Moor, Derbyshire, who said he needed an additional bedroom to store mobility equipment. He has had his housing benefit reduced by 25%
James Daly, from Stoke, the father of a severely-disabled teenage son. He and his ex-partner share the boy’s care
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 and physical problems
A woman identified as “A” who had a council house fitted with a panic room to protect her from a violent partner
Plus another case made by a mother who can only be referred to as “JD” to protect the identity of her disabled adult daughter

Source: Two cases won against housing benefit cut – BBC News

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Iain Duncan Smith laughed at rape victim’s plight

141120IDSlaughed

[Image: Keith Lindsay-Cameron.]

How much longer must we tolerate this spiteful little thug?

From LabourList: “A victim of domestic violence – for her own safety, she’s known only as A – is taking the government to court. The reason? Because she’s being hit by the Bedroom Tax.

“The ‘spare room’ that the government want to penalise her for having is a specially adapted ‘Panic Room’. It’s there to provide a safe space for her and her child if her abusive ex-partner – who has raped and assaulted her – tries to cause her further harm. It has been specially adapted as a safe and secure space by the police.

“And yet the government want to hit her with the Bedroom Tax, because – as far as they’re concerned – she’s not making full use of her ‘spare’ room.

“Unfathomably, Iain Duncan Smith is defending the DWP and the government – having argued (without success) at a hearing in June that it should be dismissed.

“Today Ed Miliband rose in the chamber to challenge David Cameron on this grotesque case – the cherry on top of the disgusting Bedroom Tax cake. And what did the Prime Minister do? He defended the decision. He claimed that money had been made available for such cases.

“And yet if that’s the case why is A having to go to court to defend her own home? To defend her own safety? To defend her child?

This government are willing – way beyond the point where any rational person has departed from their argument – to argue in favour of the Bedroom Tax. The lives ruined and the families crushed under the weight of this draconian legislation are collateral damage. And all because they’re unwilling to accept that there simply aren’t enough affordable homes in the UK – or do anything about this fact.

“And how did Iain Duncan Smith, the villain (quite literally, a villain) of this piece react to Miliband’s questioning? According to Labour MP Fiona O’Donnell, the response of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions was to laugh.

141120IDSlaughed2

Laughter.

As Ed Miliband spelled out the horrendous case – which this government are responsible for, caused and defends – of a woman trying to stay safe from her abusive, rapist ex-partner, Iain Duncan Smith laughed.

If you were trying to sum up the ills of this government in one simple act, that laughter might just be it.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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