Although it is approximately 230 miles from our Leeds NW constituency, Fife has suddenly become really important in our battle against the unfair, pernicious and unworkable bedroom tax beloved of Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats and Tories.
Why is it important?
Local newspaper, the Courier, reported on 10th September that a court decision in Fife has UK nationwide significance. Glenrothes local council had told Mr David Nelson that he would receive 14% less benefit because he had a ‘spare’ bedroom. The UK Government has always refused to define a minimum bedroom size – knowing, probably, that to do so would cause not only an even bigger political row than the tax already has but also a logistical nightmare.
Mr Nelson’s appeal case against Glenrothes’ decision was heard by Simon Collins QC who had been appointed by the UK Government to judge bedroom tax tribunals. He ruled:
1. That a room measuring less than 50 square feet is not a bedroom.
2. The long-established use of rooms should be taken into account.
3. That a room measuring between 50 and 70 square feet could only be used as a bedroom by a child aged under 10.
Around 75,000 people in Scotland, and a further 585,000 across the rest of the UK, have had their housing benefit cut after being told they have more bedrooms than they need! The Fife appeal was one of the first in Scotland and followed unsuccessful challenges in Birmingham earlier this year.
Mr Collins’ ruling is not binding across all claims but provides a very important guide in future tribunal cases.
So what can you do?
1. Readers affected by the bedroom tax and those interested in the issues involved should visit the Govan Law Centre website and follow the link to the Law Centre’s toolbox.
2. But all of us can take action. Why not, for example, ask your MP, Greg Mulholland, what he thinks a minimum size for a bedroom might be?