The appeals against the bedroom tax have begun in Fife and the decisions being made by top QC Simon Collins could have far-reaching effects. Mr Collins has ruled that the dimensions of rooms should be taken into account when calculating whether or not to levy the charge.
Mr Collins ruled that any bedrooms under 50 square feet are not bedrooms as they are too small. The QC believes that rooms which are 50-70 square feet are only suitable for ten year old children and under. The fact that this is being said by the man appointed by the UK Government to oversee the tribunals is a significant one and has serious implications for the future of the bedroom tax or “under-occupancy charge” as it is officially called. Although the findings are not legally binding on other appeals, it does set a precedent and should be used as a guide elsewhere.
Fife Council is currently investigating the impact of the appeal rulings and as yet, no decision has been taken on whether to pursue their right to appeal the decisions.
Deputy First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon commented:
“This ruling could be of huge significance, and underlines the already existing concerns that the Bedroom Tax is in breach of human rights. SNP councils are refusing to evict families and individuals hit by the Bedroom Tax doing their best to pay and Fife Council now ought to follow the SNP’s lead.
“The UK Government should abandon the Bedroom Tax which is becoming an unworkable, iniquitous shambles – just like the Poll Tax before it. The Tories show no sign of budging and Labour are all over the place on this rotten policy which hits the most vulnerable in society. Only a Yes vote will abolish it.”