Historic appeal judged on its own merits

Louise Mcleary with her guide dog Milly at her house. Pic: George McCluskie
Louise Mcleary with her guide dog Milly at her house. Pic: George McCluskie
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The lawyer acting for Louise McLeary in her successful appeal against the bedroom tax said he was “delighted” with the decision.

Graham Sutherland, principal solicitor for Fife Law Centre, put forward Louise McLeary’s case at the landmark appeal hearing last month.

Louise McLeary in her bedroom at her house in Red Craigs, Kirkcaldy. 9 sept 13

Louise McLeary in her bedroom at her house in Red Craigs, Kirkcaldy. 9 sept 13

Top QC Simon Collins ruled in his decision notice that, as Louise was provided support by Kingdom Housing Association, her spare bedroom was exempt from the Government’s legislation.

Mr Sutherland said that the outcome of Louise’s appeal, and others which were ruled in the appellant’s favour, were notable as each case was different.

He said: “The appeals were selected because they all threw up different issues. We acted on five and four were successful.

“In Louise’s case it was the sensible outcome,

‘‘She was offered the accommodation because of her needs - she didn’t go asking for a two-bedroom house - so it would have been ridiculous to penalise her financially.”

Mr Sutherland said that the decisions mean that Fife Council needs to rethink its approach to the bedroom tax.

He said: “Each had its own merits. It’s not good enough for Fife Council to just contact landlords and ask them how many bedrooms their tenants have. It now has to judge each case accordingly.”

Kirkcaldy MSP David Torrance, an opponent of the tax, said Louise’s victory was “excellent news.”

He said: “This is a tax on the most vulnerable in society.

“In many cases tenants would be happy to downsize but there is not enough social housing available so they find themselves caught in a trap and losing a lot of money each month.”

He added: “I’d hate to think that Fife Council would appeal against Louise’s decision.

“I hope that they will accept the ruling.”

Louise said: I’m really pleased. It’s a huge burden lifted. I can get on with my life without having this worry on my shoulders the whole time.”