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Successful appeal of bedroom tax

Surinder Lall, a central London housing association tenant has won an appeal against the imposition of bedroom tax by Westminster City Council.

Barrister Surinder Lall, who is blind, successfully argued to a tribunal that a room in his flat should never have been classified as a second bedroom as it has always been where equipment helping him to lead a normal life was stored.

In his decision notice, the Judge accepted Lall's detailed background account and wrote: "The term 'bedroom' is nowhere defined [in the relevant regulations]. I apply the ordinary English meaning. The room in question cannot be so defined."

In March, Westminster City Council decided to cut Mr Lall’s housing benefit. This would have meant that Mr Lall would have had his housing benefit cut by £12 a week.

Westminster City Council did not attend the hearing and the Guardian reports the Council will not appeal against the decision, although the Department for Work and Pensions has said it may do so.

Around 80,000 London households are affected by the bedroom tax, of which more than 50,000 comprise or include disabled people.

Mr Lall said his case clearly demonstrated that an additional room used for equipment required by a disabled person fell outside the scope of the regulations and should stop local housing departments simply using the term bedroom in tenancy agreements to cut benefits.

The council stressed that it had based its decision to cut Lall's benefit on the information supplied by his landlord, which had classified the equipment room as a bedroom until shortly before the tribunal hearing.

Written by Victoria Silsbury

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