The Administrative Court has today issued an important judgment concerning the provision of discretionary housing payments (“DHPs”) where the local authority takes into account income received from the care component of the disability living allowance (“DLAC”). DHPs are important to disabled individuals who are suffering a rental shortfall because of the ‘bedroom tax’/’spare room subsidy’. In R (Hardy) v Sandwell MBC  EWHC 890 (Admin), Phillips J reviewed the authorities on the impact of the welfare changes to the disabled and noted the critical importance of the DHP scheme in enabling disabled individuals and families to remain in their homes.
Mr Hardy judicially reviewed Sandwell MBC for providing him with too low a level of DHP because it had taken into account income he and his wife received as DLAC. That money is provided for (non-specific) care needs. He alleged that Sandwell had acted unlawfully by failing to take account of Government’s guidance that DLAC could be disregarded. He alleged that Sandwell had failed to comply with its public sector equality duty. He also alleged that Sandwell’s decision had discriminated against him contrary to Article 14 ECHR taken with Article 1 of the First Protocol, and Article 8, as well as discriminating against him contrary to section 15 taken with 29 of the Equality Act 2010.
Phillips J upheld all of Mr Hardy’s claims. The judgment is likely to provide a further important element of the jurisprudence ameliorating, or seeking to ameliorate, the effect of the welfare cuts to the most vulnerable in society.
Christopher Knight appeared, acting pro bono, for the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust, intervening in support of Mr Hardy. He was instructed by Ugo Hayter of Leigh Day.
The judgment can be read here.