The Bedroom Tax in the Supreme Court: implications of the judgment

Author: Jed Meers
Regions: Central Europe
Country: United Kingdom
Year: 2017

In common with most decisions of the Supreme Court, the judgment in R. (on the application of Carmichael) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2016] UKSC 58 tells two stories: a short version and a long version. This article outlines both. The short story is the immediate impact of the decision: the application of the high-bar “manifestly without reasonable foundation test”, a distinction drawn on “transparent medical need”, and the lack of regard given to international obligations under the UNCRPD and the UNCRC. The long story is how this decision fits into the “cut-and-devolve” approach to welfare reform in the UK, where local authorities are left to mitigate the effects of centrally determined benefit reductions without adequate support. After outlining the basis of the decision and its likely effects, this article argues that the decision does little to square this key structural circle at the heart of the UK government’s welfare reform agenda.

Related Principles

Dignity and Autonomy

Personal dignity and autonomy are at the very foundation of human rights, and are inextricably linked to the principles of equality and non-discrimination. As a result, respect for the inherent dignity of all must inform all public policies. State agents, private service providers and individuals must avoid stigmatization and prejudice, and recognize and support the […]

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