CASE LAW: Regina (MA and others) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Equality and Human Rights Commission intervening) [2016] UKSC 58; [2016] WLR (D) 582

Supreme Court
Regina (MA and others) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Equality and Human Rights Commission intervening)
[2016] UKSC 58; [2016] WLR (D) 582
2016 Feb 29; March 1, 2; Nov 9

Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury PSC, Baroness Hale of Richmon DPSC, Lord Mance , Lord Sumption , Lord Carnwath , Lord Hughes , Lord Toulson JJSC


In 2012 regulation B13 was inserted into the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006, applying “standard size criteria” to the household of a housing benefit claimant of working age who was a social sector tenant, so as to determine how many bedrooms the claimant’s household was deemed to need for the purpose of determining the appropriate maximum housing benefit. The criteria required couples, or children under 10 of either gender or under 16 of the same gender, to share a bedroom and did not allow for a “spare room” but the regulation employed specific additional criteria in respect of certain categories of persons so as to increase the number of bedrooms deemed to be needed in their cases, including children whom the standard size criteria would expect to share a bedroom but who could not do so because of disability, and adults who required a spare room to allow a carer to stay overnight. Provision was made allowing for discretionary payments to be made out of a central government block grant, administered by local authorities, to persons whose personal circumstances were such that they would be adversely affected by an application of regulation B13. The claimants in the first case were recipients of housing benefit in respect of social sector homes who fell outside the additional criteria categories but who claimed that they nevertheless had an accommodation need which was greater, by reason of their (or a family member’s) disabilities, than those who were unaffected by such disabilities, including a need for a room to keep disability aids, a need for a person who did not have primary care of his disabled child to have a room for when he stayed with him, needs by reason of a blindness-related psychological dependence, and of psychiatric illness, to avoid moving to unfamiliar surroundings, and, in the case of one claimant, C, the need for an additional bedroom because her disability was such that it was necessary for her partner to sleep in another room. The claimant family in the second case needed an additional bedroom to accommodate overnight carers for their severely disabled grandson, who as a child was outside the additional criteria applicable to adults needing overnight carers. The claimant in the third case did not suffer from a disability but was a woman at risk of serious violence from a former partner and whose social sector three-bedroom flat, which had initially been alllocated to her and her son because of a shortage of two-bedroom accommodation in her area, had been specially adapted to include secure “sanctuary scheme” accommodation.