September 24th, 2016

Disabled man’s bedroom tax story shocks minister

Updated: 9:43 am, May 07, 2015

A DISABLED man has been forced to pay ‘bedroom tax’ because he is too ill to share a room with his wife.

The pair have been losing out on more than £50 a month because medical equipment takes up too much space in their marital bedroom.

The couple, who do not wish to be named, live in Crabbs Cross and have to sleep separately as the 51-year-old suffers from spondylitis – a degenerative and painful condition of the spine – which means he needs a large hospital bed with enough room for nurses to move him.

In the room there is also a harness, wheelchair and table, leaving no space for another bed.

They were hit with the government’s under-occupancy charge after their daughter moved out, despite his wife previously sleeping on the sofa.

“You just feel discriminated against.” the man told the Standard.

“Do they think I don’t want to share a room with my wife? I would love to, but sadly we can’t.

“Something really needs to be done because it is hitting innocent people and it is just completely unfair.”

The couple have since been a given a short term discretionary housing payment to meet the costs but government figures showed as of August last year, 501 families in Redditch were paying the charge which is taken off housing benefits.

Rebecca Blake, Labour parliamentary candidate for Redditch asked shadow welfare minister Helen Goodman to visit the pair after pledging to scrap the tax if the party came into power.

Ms Goodman said she had met many people up and down the country but was shocked by this case.

“The government plans to make things harder for such people and potentially there are another 9,000 people in Redditch who could soon be paying the Bedroom Tax.

“Across the West Midlands this tax is going to cost each affected household an average of £3,900. Labour is committed to scrapping the tax immediately after forming a government.

“Redditch MP, Karen Lumley, voted for the Bedroom Tax. Labour has pledged to abolish it and only a Labour government will do this.”

Conservative parliamentary candidate Karen Lumley said: “There are of course cases, such as this one, where there is an additional need for residents living in social housing.

“The Government has put in place measures to support pensioners, the disabled, foster carers and the armed forces.

“Discretionary Housing Payments have been trebled, and extra funding on top of this has been made available to support vulnerable residents who may need extra help.

She added in 2014/15, £165 million was made available in funding for local authorities and the Government carefully monitors the use of the funds to ensure that they are being used effectively.

“It is my understanding that in this case, the residents are in receipt of a Discretionary Housing Payment. It is up to Redditch Borough Council to use this money to protect those in need in our area, and the funds are there for them to do this.”

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