Bedroom tax campaigners lose legal challenge

Paul and Sue Rutherford with their grandson Warren Todd

Paul and Sue Rutherford with their grandson Warren Todd

First published in News
Last updated

A couple who care for their profoundly-disabled grandson have pledged to continue their fight against the ‘bedroom tax’ after losing a pioneering legal challenge.

Paul and Sue Rutherford were backed by the Child Poverty Action Group in the very first judicial review case of the controversial housing benefit reduction.

The couple - whose lives revolve around 14-year-old Warren Todd, who is unable to walk, talk or feed himself - argued that the policy discriminates against disabled youngsters, because adults who need a room for an overnight carer do not have their housing benefit reduced.

Warren is the only known sufferer in the UK of Potocki-Schaffer Syndrome, and lives with his grandparents in a specially-built three-bedroomed bungalow at Bro Waldo, Clynderwen.

The property has been designated as Warren’s ‘home for life’ by the Pembrokeshire Housing Association and has had £20,000 of additional adaptations funded by the Welsh Assembly. The third bedroom is used by carers who stay overnight at least twice a week - as well as coming in daily - and for storage of equipment.

The Rutherfords were successful in an appeal to Pembrokeshire County Council to receive a discretionary housing payment for a year, and it was on these grounds that a High Court judge has dismissed the judicial review claim.

Following the announcement today (Friday), Mr Rutherford said: “We are very disappointed. We made the appeal on behalf of all the other families looking after disabled children, on the principle that they should not be penalised for having a spare room.

“We will be going to appeal.”

*For more on this story, see next week’s Western Telegraph.

Comments (5)

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6:00pm Fri 30 May 14

Justiceforall says...

This family should not have the stress of taking this to court. The bedroom tax is yet another unthought out act by this out of touch millionaire posh boy government. There are no smaller properties for people to downsize. If this family were able to downsized it would cost a fortune converting a smaller property to meet their child's needs. I hate the way this government is attacking the sick and vulnerable. If we were not spending so much on attacking and robbing other nations, there would be more than enough to pay for our sick to have a decent life without financial pressure being applied by this uncaring government.
This family should not have the stress of taking this to court. The bedroom tax is yet another unthought out act by this out of touch millionaire posh boy government. There are no smaller properties for people to downsize. If this family were able to downsized it would cost a fortune converting a smaller property to meet their child's needs. I hate the way this government is attacking the sick and vulnerable. If we were not spending so much on attacking and robbing other nations, there would be more than enough to pay for our sick to have a decent life without financial pressure being applied by this uncaring government. Justiceforall
  • Score: 10

7:18pm Fri 30 May 14

Andrew Lye says...

I do not have a problem with the bedroom tax in general, but when it is applied TOO rigidly as it is in this case, it seems the rule is far more important than common sense.
The Rutherford's are actually looking after their grandchild. I don't know what the personal circumstances are (or need to), but if it was me, I would be wondering why I am doing it at that age and would probably ask for social services to take over the responsibility as I could not cope as I got older.
The Rutherford's deserve our respect and support and instead they get kicked by the Bedroom Tax rule book.
I am sure if the Rutherfords threw in the towel, it would cost the state far more than the £14 a week they are losing because of the bedroom tax.
The law is an ****, at times.
I do not have a problem with the bedroom tax in general, but when it is applied TOO rigidly as it is in this case, it seems the rule is far more important than common sense. The Rutherford's are actually looking after their grandchild. I don't know what the personal circumstances are (or need to), but if it was me, I would be wondering why I am doing it at that age and would probably ask for social services to take over the responsibility as I could not cope as I got older. The Rutherford's deserve our respect and support and instead they get kicked by the Bedroom Tax rule book. I am sure if the Rutherfords threw in the towel, it would cost the state far more than the £14 a week they are losing because of the bedroom tax. The law is an ****, at times. Andrew Lye
  • Score: 9

10:38pm Fri 30 May 14

Cymru bach says...

The case shows the cost both in money and also in emotional stress in taking on the establishment who will throw the proverbial kitchen sink to defend their, (what appears to all sane people) indefensible position, and what is worst they will use yours and our money to do it with!

Listening to a radio report this evening it was galling to hear of the DWP and politicians speaking of things like the courts common sense decision etc.

Simon Hart and Stephen Crabb, are you going to help this family and other constituents who are severely adversely affected by your Government's 'Bedroom Tax' ? Your silence is deafening.
The case shows the cost both in money and also in emotional stress in taking on the establishment who will throw the proverbial kitchen sink to defend their, (what appears to all sane people) indefensible position, and what is worst they will use yours and our money to do it with! Listening to a radio report this evening it was galling to hear of the DWP and politicians speaking of things like the courts common sense decision etc. Simon Hart and Stephen Crabb, are you going to help this family and other constituents who are severely adversely affected by your Government's 'Bedroom Tax' ? Your silence is deafening. Cymru bach
  • Score: 8

7:57am Sat 31 May 14

Tttoommy says...

stop complaining, bryn and jamie have to **** someone to top up their remuneration packages :(

In truth the County Councils do have the right to mitigate the effect of the tax but of course PCC win't help will they?
stop complaining, bryn and jamie have to **** someone to top up their remuneration packages :( In truth the County Councils do have the right to mitigate the effect of the tax but of course PCC win't help will they? Tttoommy
  • Score: 0

9:28pm Wed 4 Jun 14

Lightlady says...

The Tories' bedroom tax is nothing but a cruel attack on vulnerable families. How on earth can a room be considered unoccupied when it's used for specialist equipment and overnight care? How on earth would it help the tax payer to move the Rutherfords out of their adapted bungalow into a smaller home, which would then need to be adapted, while a larger family moved into their adapted bungalow?

As the mother of a disabled child I know exactly how physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting caring for a disabled child can be. It would cost the state thousands to provide the level of care that Warren's grandparents provide and yet here they are having to fight the very system that is supposed to be there to protect them. Discretionary housing payments, whilst welcome, offer no real comfort for such families who never know from one day to the next if the payment will be stopped. Then, there are those other families with disabled children, in other parts of the country, who do not get these payments at all. Such uncertainty must be horrendous. Such a cruel tax. Such a cruel government.
The Tories' bedroom tax is nothing but a cruel attack on vulnerable families. How on earth can a room be considered unoccupied when it's used for specialist equipment and overnight care? How on earth would it help the tax payer to move the Rutherfords out of their adapted bungalow into a smaller home, which would then need to be adapted, while a larger family moved into their adapted bungalow? As the mother of a disabled child I know exactly how physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting caring for a disabled child can be. It would cost the state thousands to provide the level of care that Warren's grandparents provide and yet here they are having to fight the very system that is supposed to be there to protect them. Discretionary housing payments, whilst welcome, offer no real comfort for such families who never know from one day to the next if the payment will be stopped. Then, there are those other families with disabled children, in other parts of the country, who do not get these payments at all. Such uncertainty must be horrendous. Such a cruel tax. Such a cruel government. Lightlady
  • Score: 2

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