Sophie Earnshaw is a Justice First Fellow at Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG). As part of her work as a Fellow, she has been acting as legal advisor on a case heard by the Supreme Court in early November that ruled that the Government discriminated against a disabled woman and her husband and a severely disabled child who needs overnight care through the implementation of the ‘bedroom tax’.
The Supreme Court judges dismissed the Government’s appeal in the case of Sophie’s clients Paul and Susan Rutherford who provide around-the-clock care for their disabled grandson and who have a third bedroom for overnight carers. CPAG acted for the Rutherfords who had successfully challenged the bedroom tax scheme in the Court of Appeal which held the policy unlawfully discriminates against children with disabilities who need overnight care.
Commenting on the judgment, Sophie said:
"(The) judgment at last establishes that disabled children have the same rights to accommodation for care as disabled adults. It is a just result - any other outcome would have been nonsensical.
"In this case, disabled children were being treated worse than adults. For Paul and Susan Rutherford, the judgment lifts an enormous burden of uncertainty about their grandson’s future – an uncertainty they’ve had to live with since 2013 when the legal process started.
"The Rutherfords’ legal ordeal is finally over. These are ordinary grandparents who have dedicated their lives to caring for their grandson; they have won much-needed rights for families who care for disabled children who need overnight care. We are all in their debt that they were prepared to stick with it to the end."
Follow this link to hear Sophie being interviewed about the case on BBC Radio 4’s Money Box.