Bedroom Tax – Govt defeated by Court of Appeal

This week, the Government’s attempts to tax people who live in social housing but have spare bedrooms faced a challenge in the Court of Appeal. The Court ruled that this new law discriminated against victims of domestic abuse and the disabled. This is a great example for the Judiciary, Parliament and PM & Cabinet topics in Unit 2 and Democracy in Unit 1.

Firstly, it demonstrates the role of the judiciary in the UK, and more specifically this article looks at this case of ‘JUDICIAL REVIEW’:

“Today’s judgement is another example of the power of judicial review. The victories for the two families at the heart of these cases show once again that there is virtually no area of government decision making that cannot be scrutinised by the independent judiciary. Judges are at pains not to make political decisions, but will step in where there is illegality. A judicial review can be brought by anyone and allows the court to rule on whether the government (or any other public body) has acted lawfully.”

This excellent definition of JR, and the increasing use of it and willingness to use it is a great example for students of limits on the Government and the role of the judiciary. notably, many students write that the judiciary can be ignored as Parliament is sovereign – whilst this may be technically true, in reality it rarely happens, and doing so would massively undermine the government. In this case, the government are not ignoring, choosing instead to appeal to the Supreme Court, demonstrating that government do listen to the courts.

Also in the judiciary in Unit 2, this could be used as an example of judges protecting our rights as citizens in the UK (although brighter students will also distinguish between civil rights and human rights).

It is also useful in an essay about Parliament, PM& Cabinet (both Unit 2) or Democracy (Unit 1). Largely this example would be used in the same way in all three topics – looking at the location of sovereignty in the UK. This suggests that the Government is perhaps increasingly less powerful, perhaps the sign of a weak government? Particularly for democracy, it shows a way in which citizens can protect themselves and their rights against the power of Government.