A couple have lost their case in a landmark legal ruling involving the Bedroom Tax .
Jayson Carmichael from Southport, whose wife Charlotte has spina bifida and is severely disabled, have been fighting the UK Government over the levy for five years.
They won a separate battle in the lower tribunal courts in 2014 and later, as one of a number of families, in the Supreme Court in November 2016.
But the Department for Work and Pensions challenged the methods the couple used to defeat them.
And today, a judge at the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Tory welfare chief Esther McVey and the government.
The ruling is set to make it harder for benefits campaigners to challenge the government under the Human Rights Act.
It could also have a major impact on families trying to challenge welfare cuts.
Until today, someone who believes a new government law is discriminatory didn’t have to go to the High Court.
Instead they could have it overturned in the social security tribunal using the Human Rights Act.
Esther McVey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Following today’s ruling in favour of the Work and Pensions Secretary, disabled and unemployed people will now only be able to fight cuts on human rights grounds in the most expensive and intimidating courts in the land – the cost of which will undoubtedly rule many people out of challenging the government.
Lawyers also suggested the ruling may also have serious implications for employment and immigration tribunals.
The couple are still exempt from the Bedroom Tax personally.
But today’s case came after the Department for Work and Pensions challenged the methods Carmichael used to defeat the government.
This time – the second attempt by the DWP – the government has succeeded, although the Judge ruled that he would accept a further appeal from the Carmichaels.
Jayson Carmichael said he and Charlotte were disappointed, and now considering whether to fight on.
“We are still so proud of the previous case that we fought – which led to us beating the bedroom tax,” Mr Carmichael told the Mirror.
“Thanks to that case, we are now free of the bedroom tax for good. With this case, the arguments now are different.
“But we are considering appealing and will make a decision soon.”
Jayson and Charlotte’s case against the tax
Jacqueline Carmichael and her full-time carer husband Jayson pictured in 2014
Charlotte, 45, sleeps in a bed specially designed to ease agonising bed sores caused by her spina bifida, which takes up a lot of space in their bedroom – meaning Jayson sleeps in the other bedroom.
Even so, the couple were deemed to be ‘under-occupying’ their modest housing association flat, according to the Mirror .
Previously their solicitor Lucy Cadd of Leigh Day solicitors explained that a victory for the DWP would mean “the social security Tribunal would have to enforce the new regulations even if they were discriminatory.”
Rather than fighting welfare reforms like the bedroom tax in the lower courts, “the only avenue open to the individual would be to bring a damages claim against the Secretary of State after the particular regulations had been deemed unlawful by judicial review”, she added.
Jayson, 55, a former hotel worker said the latest battle had become a fight for other people.
The couple have previously called their years of legal battles “sheer, absolute hell” and say this has made “our nightmares return”.
A DWP spokesman said: “This case related to constitutional questions on the remedy a tribunal may give where a breach of human rights is established, and we are pleased the Court of Appeal agreed that it’s for the Government to amend relevant regulations to provide a remedy.
“Since 2014, we have given local authorities £60m a year in Discretionary Housing Payments for people affected by the Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy who need extra help.”