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Broad and unclear under-occupancy legislation unfairly impacts disabled people

27 Medi 2013

The Chief Executive of national charity Citizens Advice welcomes the appeal made by Surinder Lall against the under-occupancy penalty which unfairly impacts sick and disabled people.

Gillian Guy said:

“For some sick and disabled people a genuinely ‘spare’ room is a luxury they have never had. There are those for whom space to store necessary equipment for everyday life is a real necessity but who are still being penalised by this policy. Ministers have an ongoing responsibility to make sure that disabled people’s housing is fit for their needs.

“Surinder Lall’s successful appeal is a clear case of how the broad and unclear under-occupancy legislation has been wrongly applied. Whilst we wait for more to be done to really help people suffering from years of poor housing policy, we hope that this ruling gives others who have been unfairly hit by this policy the opportunity to get legal redress.

“We still have a chronic shortage of affordable housing in the UK with 1.8 million households on housing waiting lists. Instead of enforcing this policy the Government should focus on building more houses and tackling the root cause of why people are being forced into rent arrears.”

Notes to editors:

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit You can also get advice online at
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers
  5. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.3 million clients on 5.4 million problems from October 2013 to September 2014. For full 2013/2014  service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 3,000 service outlets across England and Wales.