The European Court of Human Rights held that the “bedroom tax” amendment to the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 discriminated against a woman who had suffered domestic violence.
The Government’s amendments to the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 had resulted in reductions to the amount of housing benefit granted to individuals who were perceived to be under-occupying social housing. Two individuals (“JD” and “A”) occupied social housing that had been specially adapted to their needs – JD had a severely disabled adult daughter, and A was a victim of domestic violence who was still under threat from her aggressor and had had a “panic room” installed. However, in both cases, only two people occupied each property and there were three bedrooms in each, meaning that the properties were deemed to be under-occupied. The reduction in housing benefit meant that both women could not afford their rent. The two women launched discrimination claims.
The European Court of Human Rights held that the reduction in housing benefit had violated A's rights: the impact of treating A in the same way as other housing benefit recipients was disproportionate, and it also conflicted with the Government's sanctuary schemes for individuals at risk of domestic abuse. However, it also concluded that the reduction had not violated JD's rights on the ground of disability, partly due to the safeguards of discretionary housing payments, the requirements of the Human Rights Act 1998, and the public sector equality duty under the Equality Act 2010.
A copy of the judgment is here.
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