Disabled man launches Bedroom Tax appeal

A disabled Whitwell man’s High Court challenge over the Government’s controversial Bedroom Tax began in London last week.

Monday, 27th May 2013, 4:26 pm
General view of the High Court on the Strand, London.

Richard Rourke, 46, of Bakestone Moor, is among a group of people who say the welfare reform changes are a violation of their human rights.

The new policy, which came into effect on 1st April this year, means people in social housing deemed to under-occupy their homes have seen their benefit cut by 14 to 25 per cent.

Mr Rourke, who uses a wheelchair, lives in a specially-adapted three bedroom bungalow. His step-daughter, who suffers from a rare form of muscular dystrophy, is currently away at university but returns home for holiday periods.

Mr Rourke’s lawyers say he uses the third bedroom - an 8ft by 9ft box room - for storing essential mobility equipment.

He has had his housing benefit cut by 25 per cent and as he can’t afford to pay the £25.38 a week shortfall in rent, he is currently in arrears.

He has asked if there is an available two-bedroomed property suitable for wheelchair use but has been told there is none.

Ugo Hayter, from Leigh Day Solicitors, representing Mr Rourke, said: “We hope the court will rule these regulations are discriminatory, in that they completely fail to make any provision for those who need larger accommodation as a result of their or their family members’ disability.”

The case continues.