Paul Rutherford is grandfather to Warren Todd, a 14-year-old boy with a rare genetic disorder, Potocki-Shaffer syndrome.
Paul believes that David Cameron must understand what his family goes through on a daily basis, as David and Samantha Cameron’s son, Ivan, also needed constant care as he had cerebral palsy and a severe form of epilepsy, and died at the age of six in 2009.
Warren also has epilepsy, as well as severe learning disabilities and skeletal problems.
Warren’s grandparents, Paul and Sue, have made a request for David Cameron to visit their home and family, and they make this request without any malevolence, as they can only imagine what the Cameron’s went through when they lost their son.
Paul states: “We want to ask David Cameron to come to our home and visit our family.
“We think if he could see how we live and what we do, and meet Warren, he would change his mind about the Bedroom Tax.”
Paul and Sue Rutherford lost a case in the High Court against the Bedroom Tax last week, meaning they must continue to pay.
Paul and Sue are also disabled themselves, and are the primary carers for Warren, as Warren’s mother has depression. Paul has a severe lung condition, and was attached to oxygen during the court case.
On several occasions, the Prime Minister has stated that disabled people are exempt from the Bedroom Tax, however we know this is simply not the case.
“It’s just not true.” Paul states. “In our case and in very many others. If he comes to our home he will be able to see that for himself.”
In reality, the only exceptions from the Bedroom Tax for disabled people are some children who cannot share with siblings, and some adults who require a room for overnight carers.
However, David Cameron has never corrected his statement that disabled people are exempt, despite a public letter from the heads of 18 charities.
The Rutherfords’ are therefore expected to pay £14 a week from carer and disability benefits which are already stretched.
After a huge media campaign, the Rutherfords’ eventually won the right to Discretionary Housing Payments to make up for the shortfall in housing benefit, after initially being turned down. However, these payments must be fought for again every year.
Because of this, the Child Poverty Action Group brought a judicial review on behalf of the Rutherfords’.
The fact that the Rutherfords’ must pay Bedroom Tax is being challenged, as the ‘spare room’ they are being charged for is where Warren’s carers sleep, and where his equipment is kept.
In addition, their home was specifically built by the local council to suit the severity of Warren’s needs, yet Warren is being penalised for “under-occupying” this purpose-built home.
Richard Drabble QC, the Rutherfords’ barrister, argued that disabled adults were not charged the Bedroom Tax if they required overnight care, so why should children pay it?
Mr Drabble told the court: “We are arguing that this discriminates against disabled children contrary to Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”
However, Judge Stuart-Smith did not agree with this, stating that although it is “at the forefront of my mind that Warren is grievously disabled and that his grandparents have undertaken a heavy responsibility and burden”, he said he had to set that against “extreme national financial austerity”.
However, if Warren’s grandparents did not care for him, it would cost the state around £250,000 to provide, whilst Discretionary Housing Payments are currently costing the Government hundreds of millions.
In addition, the Department for Work & Pensions stated it was “pleased” with the court’s decision, calling the Bedroom tax “fair and necessary”.
A spokesman also said: “We have made £345 million available to councils since the reforms were introduced to help families who may need extra support.
“The spare room subsidy… will give families in overcrowded accommodation hope of finding an appropriately sized property and will help bring the housing benefit bill under control.”
However, this decision is clearly not a fair or a logical one, and it is evident that the Rutherfords’ are not getting the support they need.
The Rutherfords’ and Child Poverty Action Group are appealing the decision, and Paul hopes that David Cameron will accept his invitation to visit Warren.
“Of all the politicians in government, I think David Cameron would understand what we are going through,” Paul says. “I really think it would change his mind.”
Written by Poppy Reece