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LISTEN: ''Cameron Is Punishing The Families of the Disabled'

Friday 30th May 2014

The grandfather of a severely disabled teenager has told LBC it is "beyond belief" that he and his wife have lost their legal challenge against the so-called bedroom tax.

Paul and Sue Rutherford with Warren. Picture: Athena Picture Agency

Picture: Athena Picture Agency



Paul and Susan Rutherford from Pembrokeshire care for 14 year old Warren, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder which means he can't walk, talk or feed himself.

The pair - who are in their 50s - also both suffer from health problems of their own.

The couple claimed a £14 a week reduction to their benefits was unlawful because their spare room is used by carers who look after the teenager overnight several nights a week.

The rules surrounding the bedroom tax allow for an additional bedroom if the claimant or their partner require overnight care but there is no provision for children who need the same The Rutherfords wanted that changed.

However the High Court has rejected their case, saying the couple are not losing out financially. Since the case was launched, Pembrokeshire County Council has given the family a discretionary payment to cover the cut in housing benefit but the Rutherfords wanted a change in the law as this is only temporary and they wanted to make sure others were also protected.

"We found it just completely beyond belief that this has happened to us really," Paul Rutherford told LBC's Julia Hartley-Brewer. "Not only just to us but there's an awful lot of other families around the country who are in the same situation as us."

They took on their grandson because his mother suffered post-natal depression after another sibling was born.

The three bedroomed property they live in has already been converted to meet Warren's special requirements. If he did have to go into full-time care it would cost the local authority £250,000 a year.

"This is what we don't understand," Paul continued. "Do they realise what we're doing? Do they realise how difficult it is to do what we do?

"It's not that we're asking for praise from anybody, we don't want our backs slapping or anything like that, being told what a great job we're doing. We just want to be able to live our lives as peacefully as we can and give Warren as much love and care that we can and make sure that his life, as limited as it is by his disability is the best that it can possibly be."

Paul told Julia he and his wife feel that the Government thinks they should be caring for their grandson 24 hours a day themselves.

"Do they know what they're talking about really?

"It's all very well discussing things in theory but when you're actually living the life it's a completely different ball game and the only people really who are caring for somebody who is sick or disabled can understand.

"We just think the Government should be helping us and all the other families. It just seems completely unfair when they are helping big businesses avoid tax in effect, they are just blaming people who are on benefits for the fact that we've got to do these austerity measures or whatever and we don't need that, we just need to be helped."