Owen’s Pontypridd Observer column 03/02/2016

Last week, the Court of Appeal ruled the bedroom tax discriminated against vulnerable tenants who had specially adapted “spare rooms” for reasons of disability or safety.

The Court heard how Paul and Sue Rutherford from Pembrokeshire, whose grandson Warren is severely disabled, are having to pay the bedroom tax on the family’s spare room that’s used by carers to provide overnight help.

The Court didn’t just say that it was illegal to hit disabled children’s families with the Bedroom Tax, they said the same about victims of domestic violence. We heard how a domestic violence victim is being forced by the government to pay the bedroom tax on a panic room in her home, installed by the Police.

In both instances, the court ruled that the bedroom tax had caused discrimination.

Nearly a thousand people across Pontypridd have been hit by the bedroom tax, many of whom are disabled and need an extra room for equipment or for their carer. It’s for this reason- and the simple fact that there is a shortage of one and two bedroom houses for people to move in to- that the bedroom tax is unfair and it is cruel.

I’ve met Paul Rutherford and he told me how hard the family work to look after their grandson Warren. So to see them deliver a massive blow against the Tories’ Bedroom Tax at the same time is incredible.

We’ve always known that the Bedroom Tax is rotten, and now we know it is illegal as well.

As Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions, I am leading Labour’s opposition to the hated bedroom tax. Following the court decision, I called an emergency debate in Parliament to try and force the Tories to at least make sure those two groups don’t have to pay it.

Shamefully, the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith ducked his responsibilities when it came to answering my questions. He sat there silently, leaving his deputy to make a mess of trying to defend the indefensible. Neither of them showed an ounce of decency or admitted they’re in the wrong. Instead they’ve decided to use taxpayers’ money to get expensive lawyers to fight the decision in the highest court in the land. Even though this will cost more in fees, than the £200,000 needed to make sure victims of domestic abuse don’t have to pay the Bedroom Tax.

Instead of wasting money on lawyers, what they should do is find a conscience, listen to the public and scrap the Bedroom Tax today.



Owen Smith MP Welsh Labour MP for Pontypridd
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