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Family loses High Court challenge against bedroom tax

A bedroom tax challenge brought by grandparents caring for a disabled child has been thrown out by the High Court.

Fourteen-year-old Warren Todd is cared for by his grandparents Paul and Susan Rutherford in a specially adapted three-bedroom home that includes a room used by overnight carers for the teenager.

However, the room is deemed a spare room by Pembrokeshire Council and the authority has reduced the couple’s housing benefit entitlement.

Mr and Mrs Rutherford, who live in Clynderwen in Wales, argued that the third room was essential for their grandson’s carers and to store equipment.

Warren suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Potocki-Shaffer syndrome.

Represented by the Child Poverty Action Group, the couple say the rules discriminate against disabled children contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights.

But their claim was dismissed by Mr Justice Stuart-Smith this week, as the family has received a discretionary housing payment from the council to cover the shortfall in their rent for a year.

Their solicitor Mike Spencer said the Rutherfords were understandably very disappointed by the ruling.

“The court has at least indicated that the local council should help pay the shortfall in Warren’s rent, but ultimately families with severely disabled children should be entitled to the same exemption as disabled adults and not have to rely on uncertain discretionary payments,” he said.

“Paul and Sue work around the clock to care for Warren and have the constant fear hanging over them that Warren might lose his home and have to go into care.”

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “We are pleased that the courts have once again found in our favour and agreed our policy is lawful.

“We have made £345 million available to councils since the reforms were introduced to help vulnerable families who may need extra support.”

The Rutherfords will now take their fight to the Court of Appeal.

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