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Grandparent Carers penalised by the unfair ‘Bedroom Tax’, as highlighted by Channel 4 news in their main story on 10th July 2013

by in GLC posted .

Channel 4 News have highlighted the plight of Pembrokeshire Grandparent Carers faced with having to pay the bedroom tax.

The Grandparent Carers, Mr and Mrs Rutherford, aged 58 and 55 look after their 13 year old Grandson, Warren in a specially adapted home which meets Warren’s needs. He has a rare genetic condition which means he needs around-the-clock care.

The Grandparents contacted the Grandparents Legal Centre because they are renting their home from a Housing association; Pembrokeshire Housing. They had been notified by the Council that their Housing Benefit will be reduced by 14% as they are deemed to have an extra room. There are 3 bedrooms but the third is used by Warren’s Carers. The 3 bed roomed property was allocated to them to meet Warren’s needs. This was confirmed in a letter from the Housing Association which also confirms that there are no other smaller adapted properties available and most have 3 bedrooms.
Sangeeta Enright, the Welfare Benefits expert with the Grandparents Legal Centre/Sangeeta Enright, Welfare Benefits Adviser, at Ridley and Hall Solicitors says
“I advised Mr Rutherford to challenge the Bedroom Tax decision as it is both unfair and perverse. It effectively forces Warren to live elsewhere. The cost of being in a care home would far exceed the costs currently and the Local Authority is not taking into consideration the nature of his needs arising out of his disability.

I advised them to claim a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) which is part of a scheme the Government has extended to be paid in exceptional cases. This has been refused as it has been decided the family has disposable income to meet the shortfall, although the Disability Benefits paid to them are not supposed to be paid to cover rent.

My colleague Rebecca Chapman, Community Care Solicitor and I assisted Mr Rutherford to appeal the Bedroom tax decision.”

Recent research published by both the Buttle Trust and Family Rights Group confirms that grandparent carers were “frequently pushed into poverty” by taking on children. This case highlights the reasons why.

On the Channel 4 News yesterday, Conservative MP Andrew Selous, parliamentary aide to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, said ‘an inquiry was needed into why the Rutherford family had not received help from their council in the form of a discretionary housing payment.’
Mr Rutherford will be keen to know the outcome of the inquiry.

“Anyone who needs to have a carer sleeping in another bedroom is exempt from the spare room subsidy.”
David Cameron, 10 July 2013

But for the Rutherford family, they know this simply is not true.
Sangeeta says “The Government took away Legal Aid funding for cases like these in April 2013. Appeals to an Independent Tribunal are needed but this work is no longer covered. We strongly believe that the policy is wrong and discriminates against Warren, so we agreed to help out. Regrettably, we cannot offer to take any more cases of this nature but will continue in our campaign for change in this area.”

Check the facts out here:

Full report click here

Ten other cases were part of Judicial Review Proceedings in May and we are awaiting judgements on those. Click here

For advice on your options, please contact Sangeeta on 01484 538 421.



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