Commission responds to Court of Appeal ruling that spare room subsidy is discriminatory against victims of domestic violence

Published: 27 Jan 2016

Commenting in response to today’s Court of Appeal ruling that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions acted unlawfully by failing to exempt victims of domestic violence living in safe-houses from the spare room subsidy, Rebecca Hilsenrath, CEO at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:

'Sanctuary Schemes provide an important service in placing victims of domestic violence in local authority safe houses. We are pleased that the court has found that the impact of the spare room subsidy on those housed under Sanctuary Schemes had not been properly considered, is discriminatory and is unjustified. Victims of serious domestic violence who are reliant on full housing benefit are in an extremely vulnerable situation and their life can be under threat. Their protection is paramount. The new regulations reduced housing benefits for those within the Sanctuary Scheme because their accommodation was a safe-house and therefore larger than usual. This could result in an inability to pay the rent and therefore eviction. The effect for a victim of domestic violence of losing a secure home is profound and could be extremely dangerous.'


Notes to editors

  • The Commission intervened in this case, as an independent expert in equality and human rights law.
  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006. It operates independently to encourage equality and diversity, eliminate unlawful discrimination, and promote and protect human rights. The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. It encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act 1998 and is accredited by the UN as an ‘A status’ National Human Rights Institution

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