Artwork by Julia Giles

Legal challenge to 'bedroom tax' for domestic violence victim

A victim of rape, assault, harassment and stalking has today issued judicial review proceedings in the High Court against the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, challenging the ‘bedroom tax’.  She claims that the new housing benefit regulations are discriminatory and will have devastating consequences for her and her young son.  The Claimant is known only as ‘A’ because her identity must be protected for her own safety.
The new regulations mean that ‘A’ and her 10-year-old son are only entitled to receive housing benefit for a 2-bedroom property.  However they live in a 3-bedroom property which has been specially adapted for them by the police, as her life and physical safety are at risk from an ex-partner with a history of serious violence.  She has had a ‘panic space’ installed in her home, and

A specialist ‘sanctuary system’ installed.  This includes expensive reinforced doors, electric alarms, a marker on the house and alarms linked to the police station.  She has now been told that her housing benefit is to be reduced by 14% given the Secretary of State’s new policy.

Her legal team (Rebekah Carrier at Hopkin Murray Beskine solicitors and barrister Caoilfhionn Gallagher at Doughty Street Chambers) argue that the Secretary of State has failed to take into account the disproportionate impact of the ‘bedroom tax’ upon victims of domestic violence and lone parents, who are generally women. 

Rebekah Carrier said:

“These changes to housing benefit are having a catastrophic impact upon vulnerable people across the country.  Our client’s life is at risk and she is terrified.  She lives in a property which has been specially adapted by the police, at great expense, to protect her and her child.  It is ridiculous that she is now being told she must move to another property (where she will not have any of these protections) or else take in a lodger.  She is a vulnerable single parent who has been a victim of rape and assault.  The Secretary of State cannot seriously suggest that it is appropriate for her to take a stranger into her home.”

This claim is supported by the charity Women’s Aid.


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