Supreme Court rules that housing benefit entitlement should be calculated without deduction where Convention rights are at stake


Re: RR (AP) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2019] UKSC 52

This case considered the effect of the Supreme Court’s decision in R (Carmichael) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2016] UKSC 58 where decision-makers in the housing benefit system and the First-tier Tribunal and the Upper Tribunal heard appeals relating to periods before the regulations governing the “bedroom tax” were amended. The question for the Court was whether the regulations should apply in their original form or whether the housing benefit should be calculated without making the percentage deduction in cases where to do so would breach the Convention rights of the claimants in the way determined in the Carmichael and Rutherford cases.

The Supreme Court allowed the appeal. It made the same order as the UT made in Carmichael that (1) the appeal against the local authority’s decision of 5 March 2013 is allowed; and (2) that RR’s housing benefit entitlement was to be recalculated without making the under-occupancy deduction of 14%. The reason for doing so was the same as that which the UT gave, namely that if the deduction was applied, there would be a clear breach of RR’s Convention rights, contrary to the Human Rights Act 1998, section 6(1).

Chris Buttler and Dan Squires QC were involved in this case.