Court finds 2-year residence requirement imposed by council to qualify for reduced council tax is unlawful


Re: Winder & Ors, R (on the application of) v Sandwell MBC [2014] EWHC 2617 (Admin)

The claimants brought a claim arguing the 2-year residence requirement imposed by the defendant council as part of the criteria for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme was unlawful.

Following the abolition of Council Tax Benefit in April 2013, the defendant council introduced a new scheme offering a reduced liability to pay council tax where the individual could show they had lived in the area for the previous two years. The claimants claimed the residence requirement for this scheme was unlawful.

The court held the Council acted ultra vires by imposing the residence requirement. There was no statutory power to impose a residence requirement for these purposes. In any event the court held the imposition of the residence requirement was unlawful due to a failure to take into account material considerations, a lack of consultation, for constituting a barrier to freedom of movement and for being discriminatory.

Permission to apply for judicial review was granted. However, permission to appeal was refused.

Chris Buttler was involved in this case for the intervener.