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Paul’s Bedroom Tax appeal ‘could affect hundreds’

Paul and Sarah Clark have appealed against bedroom tax.' Picture Mark Westley
Paul and Sarah Clark have appealed against bedroom tax.' Picture Mark Westley

A month after a tribunal upheld Paul Clark’s challenge against bedroom tax, he is still waiting to see if he has won.

A First-Tier Tribunal granted Paul’s appeal on January 30 after deciding his tenancy in St John’s Close, Mildenhall, did not fall under the so-called Bedroom Tax regulations because it was a private lease, but this week he learned that Forest Heath District Council has filed an intention to appeal.

Mr Clark, who lost his leg due to a bone infection after surgery in 2014, only discovered the council’s intention to appeal last week after he rang to find out when he would be getting back the £100 a month tax. He was baffled because he thought the council’s lawyers had admitted he was right.

When Mr Clark and his wife Sarah moved into the four-bedroomed house in October 2013 it belonged to a private landlord. He sold it to Flagship Housing, a housing association, in March 2016 but the tribunal judgement says the lease was unchanged apart from the landlord’s name.

But in December 2016, the council reassessed his housing benefit claim and decided that because Flagship was ‘a non-profit provider of social housing’ the bedroom restriction applied.

Mr Clarke said: “I thought ‘I’m not having that’ and went to court [tribunal].

“When they said there that nobody had challenged it before, I was quite shocked – £100 a month is a lot of money for some people.

“This could affect hundreds of households and councils all over the country.”

The tribunal judgement says the council accepted Flagship has a division looking after private leases and adds: “Mr Clark is a private tenant, also agreed by the local authority, and his landlord is the division of Flagship which deals with private leasehold property.”

It says the legal argument submitted ‘acknowledged that Mr Clark’s dwelling was not social housing’.

A council spokeswoman said: “We have informed Mr Clark that we are looking into the case with the intention of lodging an appeal.

“As this may be an on-going legal case, all we can say at this stage is that we are fact finding in order to decide a course of action.”

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