The following is a press release from Merseyside Federation of Anti-Bedroom Tax Groups:
Following a first-tier benefit tribunal judgement* against Fife Council that a room of less than 70 sq ft is not a bedroom for bedroom tax purposes, an emergency meeting agreed today that this will now become official council policy. Earlier in the week the council announced that it would not appeal against the tribunal ruling. In separate judgements over the last two weeks, the benefit tribunal in Kirkcaldy has ruled that room purpose, usage and usable space are also issues that councils need to take into account in determining a tenant’s liability for the bedroom tax.
Secretary of Merseyside Federation of anti-Bedroom Tax Groups Juliet Edgar says: “This is is an important and very welcome decision. We have always said the process that councils went through in determining bedroom tax liability was fundamentally flawed since they did not take into account the space standards of the 1985 Housing Act or individual circumstances. Fife Council has set a precedent: we now insist that councils on Merseyside follow immediately.”
There are thousands of properties on Merseyside where tenants are paying bedroom tax for room less than 70 sq ft. The 1985 Housing Act space standard says that this is too small to serve as a bedroom for an adult. Councils and housing associations will now have to face up to the prospect of undertaking individual surveys of tens of thousands of social housing properties across Merseyside to record individual room sizes, their purpose and the use that is made of them. It is expected that at least 30% of all bedroom tax decisions will have to be set aside as a result.
Ms Edgar comments: “This is is an exercise that will take months. In the meantime, we demand that all existing bedroom tax decisions are set aside. Why should tenants continue to pay a tax for which they are not liable while councils do the job that they should have done at the outset?”
For further information contact Juliet Edgar on 07528194137
* Judgements SC108/13/01362 and SC108/13/01318. For a more detailed assessment of both judgements and their significance see speye.wordpress.com