Disabled people across the country are facing a “serious and real risk” of eviction because of the government’s “bedroom tax”, according to lawyers representing 10 disabled people and their families in a key court case.
The warning came as the high court began a three-day hearing into the 10 claims brought against the housing benefit regulations that came into force on 1 April.
The claimants are all arguing that the regulations discriminate against people who need larger accommodation because of their impairment.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has “intervened” in the case, to argue that the new regulations could breach the Human Rights Act, the UK government’s duties under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the Equality Act’s public sector equality duty.
Government figures suggest that more than 400,000 disabled people will be hit by the introduction of the bedroom tax, which will see tenants in social housing punished financially if they are assessed as “under-occupying” their homes.
But campaigners believe the true numbers will be even higher, as the government figures only relate to disabled people who claim disability benefits.
DPAC believes the bedroom tax needs to be scrapped and that “concerted campaigning” – similar to the widespread and successful resistance to the poll tax in the 1980s – was needed “to force a u-turn”.
But she said: “The message for disabled people from DPAC is not to despair if they cannot pay and cannot move and start to get into arrears. This rotten policy is unworkable. People who are worried or frightened need to seek support but not panic.”
“There is a serious and real risk of disabled people being evicted. It is absolutely what is going to happen.”