Wheelchair-bound John Smith, 40, said he would return an award from David Cameron for his community work rather than pay the tax
A furious disabled football coach who could lose his home because of the bedroom tax says Britain is being taken back to the 1960s.
Wheelchair-bound John Smith, 40, said he would return an award from David Cameron for his community work rather than pay the tax. The Liverpool FC fan was described as “inspirational” by the Prime Minister. But at the same time the Government is fighting to slash the cerebral palsy sufferer’s housing benefits.
Wheelchair-bound Mr Smith, from Croxteth, told the ECHO: “I would return my award rather than pay for the bedroom tax, the Liverpool Echo reports.
“It’s 2015 but it feels like 1960 with the way things are. There are people having to use food banks because of the bedroom tax. There are people like me in Liverpool who do lots of charity work but they are trying to take our benefits off us.”
Mr Smith was given one of the Government’s Point of Light awards for his work as a wheelchair football coach – and was handed the gong at Anfield last week by David Cameron’s speechwriter, Tim Kiddell. Meanwhile, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) was preparing to appeal against an earlier decision to spare Mr Smith from having to pay the bedroom tax.
His specially adapted bungalow has two bedrooms – one where he sleeps and another where he stores disability equipment and keeps himself fit. The DWP says this second room is unnecessary and Mr Smith should suffer a housing benefit cut worth an estimated £48 a month.
Ruth Knox, from money advice charity Raise, who is helping Mr Smith with his battle, said yesterday: “People with disabilities are particularly harshly treated by the bedroom tax. For people in John’s position, being threatened with a cut to their housing benefit is very distressing and it damages their quality of life.”
The DWP said in a statement: “We’ve provided councils with £500m because we know there are situations like these where people may need extra support and local councils are in the best position to make that decision. This case is being appealed to ensure the consistency of the policy overall because, fundamentally, the taxpayer cannot afford to pay for unoccupied rooms.”