R (on the application MA & others) v the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (intervening) [2014] EWCA Civ 13

Case Nos: C1/2013/2452 & C1/2013/2453

Date

21 February 2014

Link to judgment
http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2014/13.html

Discrimination grounds

Disability

Summary of case

Challenge brought by five adult disabled social housing tenants to the new housing benefit regulations on two grounds – that they were in breach of Article 14 the ECHR when read in conjunction with article 1 of the First Protocol of the Convention and that they were contrary to the equality duty.

Outcome

The Court of Appeal confirmed the ruling of the High Court. They held that the regulations were not in breach of Article 14 because they were justified by the provision of discretionary housing payments (DHPs). The Court also ruled that the housing benefit regulations had not been introduced in breach of the equality duty because the Government had had due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and advance equality between people who have a disability and those who do not when they made the regulations.

The Master of the Rolls ruled that ‘…the Secretary of State well understood that there are some disabled persons who, by reason of their disabilities, have a need for more space than is deemed to be required by their non-disabled peers. The question of how this special need should be accommodated in the proposed new scheme was the subject of wide consultation of interested parties and considered in great detail by the Secretary of State and Parliament…This was all part of the decision-making process. In my view, it is clear that, in conducting this process, the Secretary of State did have due regard to his statutory duties. It was obvious that he was aware of the serious impact that the bedroom criteria would have on disabled persons who, by reason of their disability, had an actual need for more accommodation than they would be deemed to need by those criteria. That is why so much effort was devoted to seeking a solution to the problem. The PSED challenge is not concerned with the lawfulness or even the adequacy of the solution that was adopted. It is only concerned with the lawfulness of the process. In my view, the process did not breach the Secretary of State’s PSED’.