Social Welfare Lawyers in the Centre of Birmingham

Knowles -v- SSWP

R (Knowles) – v – The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2013] EWHC 19 (Admin), 17th January 2013.

The two Claimants were Romani Gypsies who moved from a local authority site due to anti-social behaviour by other residents.  They moved on to a private caravan site.  Where a landlord is a private landlord, the rent allowance for housing benefit purposes is always referred to a Rent Officer for determination.  In this case the Local Reference Rent sent by the Rent Officer was much less than the contractual rent that the Claimants had to pay.

It was argued on their behalf that there were extra costs involved in the running of Gypsy and Traveller sites that had not been taken into account by the Rent Officer.  The Claimants argued that the scheme was discriminatory and contrary to Article 14 of the European Convention taken together with Article 8 and/or Article 1 of the First Protocol.

Hickinbottom J concluded that the vast majority of the extra costs did not fall within the definition of ‘eligible rent’.  Moreover he stated he was “entirely unconvinced that the additional costs upon which this claim is based are significant” (at para 84).  He further stated that, even if they had been significant, he was satisfied that the difference in treatment was objectively justified.  Accordingly, he dismissed the claim.

A copy of the judgment is attached to this article.

See also the article in 2013 TAT News by Desmond Rutledge –  under ‘links’ on this website.