Bedroom tax: DWP can’t appeal vs DV mum at European Court

Supreme Court 2016 DV crop
Some of the women at our joint vigil at the Supreme Court in 2016.  Black Women’s Rape Action Project, Women Against Rape and others protested against bedroom tax imposed on mums fleeing violence.

The government cruelly appeals against every court win which upholds our benefit rights and protects vulnerable claimants.  But the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has refused the DWP permission to appeal against the mum fleeing domestic violence and her son, who finally won against the bedroom tax at the ECHR in October 2019 — after a battle lasting six years.

In 2016, we criticised the majority UK Supreme Court judges, who among other cases, ruled that the mum and her son living in fear of violence from her ex-partner at their new address, did not deserve to be exempted from bedroom tax imposed on them for having a specially-built “panic room” made for their safety.   The bedroom tax deduction from Housing Benefit creates rent arrears and the risk of eviction, and Discretionary Housing Payments which are supposed to help, are limited.

We said: “We are worried that women and children are going to die as a result of the ruling on women fleeing domestic violence. There’s no safety for them in this judgment. [The judges] are picking and choosing in disability cases. Why should people have to lose their homes?”

Bedroom tax dis violence

Report shared from the Daily Mirror:

DWP told Bedroom Tax domestic violence discrimination ruling is final

The Government tried to defend its policy of slashing housing benefit for women who had been given panic rooms under a police scheme

Judges at the European Court of Human Rights ruled in October that the benefit cut discriminated against a domestic violence victim who was forced to pay extra for her panic room.

Lawyers for the Department for Work and Pensions demanded the case be heard in the court’s Grand Chamber – seeking to overturn the ruling.

But the request was rejected – meaning the ruling stands and is final.

The victim’s legal team are now calling for the government to make changes to the law immediately.

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

“She is a vulnerable single parent who has been a victim of rape and assault, and she lives in a property which has been specially adapted by the police, at great expense, to protect her and her child.

“She has had to fight the UK Government for seven years to protect her right to be safe in her own home.

“She is delighted that after such a long battle, the European Court of Human Rights has recognised the impact that the bedroom tax is having on her and others like her, and the Grand Chamber has refused the UK Government’s last-ditch attempt to appeal this finding.
She added: “We now call on the UK Government to take swift action and to change the rules to exempt from the bedroom tax the small but extremely vulnerable class of women and children who need the safety of a sanctuary scheme whilst they try to rebuild their lives after surviving domestic violence.
“The Domestic Abuse Bill, currently making its way through Parliament, is the obvious route to correct this injustice and protect A and others in Sanctuary Scheme homes.”

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