Iain Duncan Smith has decided to drop the case against a man with two disabled daughters who had been denied extra housing benefit on the basis that his children should share a bedroom.
The Department of Work and Pensions had argued that Richard Gorry, who has three children including two disabled daughters, one with spina bifida and another with Down’s Syndrome, should only receive housing benefit for a three bedroom property.
However Mr Gorry had appealed against the decision, saying that because of needs related to their disability, they could not always share a bedroom.
The Court of Appeal ruled on 15 May that the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) size criteria had discriminated unlawfully against the children in the Gorry family on grounds of disability. However the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions disagreed and applied to the Supreme Court to appeal that decision.
However late on Tuesday, Duncan Smith decided not to pursue the appeal. A statement from the DWP read: “The Secretary of State has today clarified the position regarding disabled children and has decided not to pursue the appeal further."
This means that local authorities can now allow an extra bedroom for children who are unable to share because of their severe disabilities.
The work and pensions secretary also said adult children who are in the Armed Forces but who continue to live with parents will be treated as continuing to live at home, even when deployed on operations.
Additionally people who are approved foster carers will be allowed an additional room, whether or not a child has been placed with them or they are between placements, so long as they have fostered a child, or become an approved foster carer in the last 12 months.
Child Poverty Action Group was representing Richard Gorry. Alison Garnham, Chief Executive said: “This is a tremendous victory for disabled children and it’s a victory for common sense.
“In the case Child Poverty Action Group represented, it was clearly not possible for a child with spina bifida and another with Down Syndrome to share a bedroom together with such different demands and needs. It’s absolutely right that the housing benefit system should respond to challenges like this, and it is clear discrimination if it does not.
“Even with today’s decision on severely disabled children, disabled people will still be amongst the hardest hit by the bedroom tax, with £300 million being cut from their housing support. The bedroom tax is surely one of the cruellest cuts of all and should be scrapped altogether.”
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