Paul and Susan Rutherford have defeated Iain Duncan-Smith’s bid to block their legal appeal against a ruling which could see them separated from grandson Warren
A disabled boy’s grandparents have beaten Iain Duncan Smith’s heartless bid to block a court appeal on the Bedroom Tax that will decide whether he carries on living with them or goes into care. Doting Paul and Susan Rutherford were targeted by the cruel levy, which will force them to quit their three-bed home, two years ago and fought it with a judical review.
Grandson Warren, 15, needs round-the-clock attention from two people and because of their own disabilities the couple rely on help from paid carers – who need to sleep over regularly. Without their third bedroom they will lose their support lifeline and Warren, who has Potocki-Shaffer syndrome, will go into care with the taxpayer footing the bill.
DWP chief Mr Duncan Smith urged judges to throw out the couple’s challenge. But last month Lord Justice Underhill and Lord Justice Stanley Burnton ruled their case must be heard by the end of 2015.
Michael Spencer, a solicitor for the Child Poverty Action Group, said: “Paul and Sue work round the clock to care for Warren. “Without carers who can stay they wouldn’t be able to cope and Warren would have to go into care – at substantial cost to the taxpayer.”
Paul and Susan live in a three-bed bungalow in Clunderwen, Pembrokeshire, specially adapted to meet Warren’s needs. They share a room while Warren sleeps in another. In addition to putting up carers, the third stores Warren’s equipment. Paul and Susan – who were in BBC documentary Saints and Scroungers – claim the hated levy unlawfully discriminates against seriously disabled children requiring overnight care.
The case will be heard at the same time as an appeal brought by a domestic violence victim known only as A, who suffered rape, assault, harassment and stalking at the hands of a former partner. She lives with her 11-year-old son in a three-bed property specially adapted by police to feature a panic room. But under the reviled Bedroom Tax, she and her boy are now only entitled to housing benefit for a two-bed property.
Rebekah Carrier, the solicitor acting for A, told the Sunday People: “Our client’s life is at risk and she is terrified. She lives in a property which has been specially adapted by the police, at great expense, to protect her and her child. It is ridiculous that she is now being told she must move to another property where she will not have any of these protections or else take in a lodger. She is a vulnerable single parent who has been a victim of rape and assault. The Secretary of State cannot seriously suggest it is appropriate to take a stranger into her home.”
The Lord Justices ruled that both of the cases raise points of significant public importance.