The committee reviewed the above draft regulations at its meeting on 2 October. As part of our consideration of them, we have decided to consult on the regulations and intend to seek evidence and views from a range of organisations and individuals on one narrow, but important, aspect of the draft proposals.
Specifically, the committee would welcome evidence and views on the definition of the proposed benefit gateway which requires a disabled child to be eligible for the middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance in order to be considered for an additional bedroom under the Housing Benefit and Universal Credit size criteria.
The Court of Appeal (Burnip & others v. Birmingham City Council & others) ruled, in May 2012, that the Local Housing Allowance size criteria were in breach of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and unlawfully discriminated against children who could not be expected to share a room due to their severe disabilities. It required a policy response from the Department which provided differential treatment under the size criteria where:
- a child or children expected to share a room are severely disabled
- that disability means that they are unable to share a room
A subsequent High Court judgement (MA & others v. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions & others) specified that, if new regulations were not made by 31 October 2013 to ensure compliance with the earlier Court of Appeal ruling, the parties would be granted liberty to apply to the Court for relief.
The department’s draft regulations are intended to comply with the terms of that court order. They are designed to ensure that, when applying the size criteria to calculate the maximum amount of Housing Benefit or housing costs under Universal Credit, the relevant authority can allow for an extra bedroom where a child who would usually be expected to share a room is unable to due to a disability.
Call for evidence
While the committee does not intend to unduly delay the department’s compliance with the terms of a court order, the committee considers it important to undertake a short consultation on the definition of the proposed benefit gateway which requires a disabled child to be eligible for the middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance in order to be considered for their own bedroom.
We intend to collect evidence from a range of individuals and organisations which have a particular interest in this issue at a workshop that will take place in the next fortnight. We will issue invitations shortly.
Other evidence received on this specific aspect of the draft proposals before 18 October will also be considered by the committee.
Read the draft Regulations, Explanatory Memorandum and Equality Analysis.
Responses are needed by 18 October 2013 and should be sent to:
The Committee Secretary
Social Security Advisory Committee
Alternatively they can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information can be obtained from the Committee Secretary on 020 7829 3354.
Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) is an independent advisory body of the Department for Work and Pensions. The committee’s role is to give advice on social security issues; scrutinise and report on social security regulations (including tax credits) and to consider and advise on any matters referred to it by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions or the Northern Ireland Department for Social Development.
The committee’s Chair is Paul Gray. Its membership comprises: Les Allamby, John Andrews, Simon Bartley, Adele Baumgardt, John Ditch, Keith Faulkner, Pamela Fitzpatrick, Colin Godbold, Chris Goulden, Matthew Oakley, Nicola Smith and Diana Whitworth.
SSAC’s response to regulatory proposals is made in a report to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. The Secretary of State is required to make a written statement in response to the report. SSAC’s report and the Secretary of State’s statement are normally laid in Parliament alongside the regulations (section 174(1) and (2) of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 refer).