Agaraphobic who has not left her home in 20 years facing eviction due to bedroom tax.

Mrs R, an agoraphobic who has not left her home in 20 years as a result of her condition, is facing eviction after accruing a £1,500 bill due to unpaid bedroom tax.

Mrs R has not been able to set foot outside her home since 1995 when her phobia became so severe it prevented her from leaving the house.

However, she now faces court proceedings and potential eviction from her property after accruing £1,500 worth of arrears due to unpaid bedroom tax.  She has been hit with the tax since her two daughters and her son moved out of the property leaving her and her husband, who is her full-time carer as the only occupants of the three-bedroom house.

If Mrs R attempts to leave her house, or even go for a walk in her back garden she immediately suffers from severe panic attacks.

Mrs R is registered disabled and her income consists of Personal independence Payments.  She received a letter from the Council at the beginning of July 2015 informing her that she owed £1,400 in bedroom tax.  After her daughters moved out she was receiving full Housing Benefit, rather than the amount she was entitled to due to her failure to notify the correct agencies of the change in her circumstances.  Mrs R should have been left with a rent shortfall of £14 per week due to the percentage reduction in Housing Benefit for having two spare bedrooms.  Since the letter the bedroom tax has continued to have effect and she has now racked up over £1,500 in arrears due to the bedroom tax.

Mrs R says, “We use the bedroom for my husband, because I often get sick in the night and I keep him awake, so he sleeps in the spare room.  I told them the room is always in use, but they said it doesn’t make any different because he’s my carer, and the courts said he should live in the same room as me.  I think people like me should be exempt from bedroom tax because I am agoraphobic and can’t leave the house.  Even if they offer me a two bedroom place I wouldn’t be able to get there because I’m agoraphobic, they are discriminating against me because of my illness  How can you expect people to move if they cannot even leave the house? It doesn’t make sense; there is no way I can get out.”

read more here:http://www.swainandco.com/housing/agoraphobic-council-tenant-faces-eviction-for-1500-in-bedroom-tax-related-arrears/

Bedroom Tax victims fighting to prevent disabled grandson going into care – and costing Government much more

Paul and Susan Rutherford have defeated Iain Duncan-Smith’s bid to block their legal appeal against a ruling which could see them separated from grandson Warren

A disabled boy’s grandparents have beaten Iain Duncan Smith’s heartless bid to block a court appeal on the Bedroom Tax that will decide whether he carries on living with them or goes into care. Doting Paul and Susan Rutherford were targeted by the ­cruel levy, which will force them to quit their three-bed home, two years ago and fought it with a judical review.

Grandson Warren, 15, needs round-the-clock attention from two people and because of their own disabilities the couple rely on help from paid carers – who need to sleep over regularly. Without their third bedroom they will lose their support lifeline and Warren, who has Potocki-Shaffer syndrome, will go into care with the taxpayer footing the bill.

DWP chief Mr Duncan Smith urged judges to throw out the couple’s challenge. But last month Lord Justice Underhill and Lord Justice Stanley Burnton ruled their case must be heard by the end of 2015.

Michael Spencer, a solicitor for the Child Poverty Action Group, said: “Paul and Sue work round the clock to care for Warren. “Without carers who can stay they wouldn’t be able to cope and Warren would have to go into care – at substantial cost to the taxpayer.”

Paul and Susan live in a three-bed bungalow in Clunderwen, Pembrokeshire, specially adapted to meet Warren’s needs. They share a room while Warren sleeps in another. In addition to putting up carers, the third stores Warren’s equipment. Paul and Susan – who were in BBC documentary Saints and Scroungers – claim the hated levy ­unlawfully discriminates against ­seriously disabled children requiring overnight care.

The case will be heard at the same time as an appeal brought by a domestic violence victim known only as A, who suffered rape, assault, harassment and stalking at the hands of a former partner. She lives with her 11-year-old son in a three-bed property specially adapted by police to feature a panic room. But under the reviled Bedroom Tax, she and her boy are now only entitled to housing benefit for a two-bed property.

Rebekah Carrier, the solicitor ­acting for A, told the Sunday People: “Our client’s life is at risk and she is terrified. She lives in a property which has been specially adapted by the police, at great expense, to protect her and her child. It is ridiculous that she is now being told she must move to another property where she will not have any of these protections or else take in a lodger. She is a vulnerable single parent who has been a victim of rape and assault. The Secretary of State cannot seriously suggest it is appropriate to take a stranger into her home.”

The Lord Justices ruled that both of the cases raise points of significant public importance.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/bedroom-tax-victims-fighting-prevent

Bedroom Tax: Disabled football coach who could lose his home says Britain is being taken back to 1960s

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.”

Family made homeless by benefit cap was unlawfully barred from housing list by Tory council, court rules

A Conservative-controlled council unlawfully blocked a family made homeless by the benefit cap from getting social housing, a court has found.

The High Court said Westminster City Council was wrong to bar the anonymous family from applying for a home in the borough where they lived.

The plaintiff, known as “Ms A” had lost her family home in Westminster after the benefit cap meant she could no longer afford her rent.

The council, which has a legal duty to house homeless families, shipped Ms A’s family miles out of the borough to Enfield and said they could not reapply for a home in their own neighbourhood least 12 months.

But the High Court ruled that this suspension was unlawful.

“This landmark ruling makes it abundantly clear that homeless people have the right to bid for social housing from the time they secure a full housing duty from a local authority rather than being suspended for one year,” said Jayesh Kunwardia, a lawyer at Hodge Jones & Allen.

“Westminster’s subtle way of registering the homeless, saying they will have points but denying them the right to bid for 12 months is now deemed unlawful.”

Last month welfare secretary Iain Duncan Smith described the cap which made the family in this case homeless as “social justice in action”.

“Welfare reform is improving social mobility for families across the country,” he argued in an article for the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Read the rest of this story here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/family-made-homeless-by-benefit-cap-was-unlawfully-barred-from-housing-list-by-tory-council-court-rules-10336172.html

Labour claims bedroom tax is ‘costing London’s poor £50m a year

The “bedroom tax” is squeezing more than £50 million a year from London’s poorest families, Labour said today.

Unveiling new figures about the Coalition’s most controversial benefits reform, shadow welfare minister Helen Goodman said the average London family affected would lose £1,060 a year.

Some 48,247 families in the capital have had benefits reduced because they have more rooms than they are deemed to need.

The Government has said that it is unfair to taxpayers for people on benefits to live in bigger homes than they need, adding that many working Londoners cannot afford a spare room.

But Labour said claimants cannot easily move to smaller flats because of waiting lists, meaning they end up without enough money to make ends meet. The figures show that Londoners lose more cash than people in any other region because of high rents.

During an election campaign visit to Hendon, Ms Goodman said: “The government has imposed the bedroom tax on families who are already hard pressed to make ends meet and their own studies show that people are having to cut back on household essentials to pay it. Only a Labour government will abolish the bedroom tax.” She said that more than 1.1 million claimants in London were at risk of being affected, including parents whose children might move away, leaving rooms empty, or households where a member could die.

The bedroom tax — officially called the under-occupancy charge — applies to working-age council or housing association tenants on housing benefit. The benefit is reduced by 14 per cent for one “spare” room and 25 per cent for two or more.

read the rest of this article in the evening standard here: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/bedroom-tax-costing-londons-poor-50m-a-year–labour-10127730.html

Evictions are up 4,000 a year since Bedroom Tax was introduced

More families are being rent apart by the hated Bedroom Tax, new figures reveal

Sixty more families are being turfed out of their homes each WEEK because of the cruel Bedroom Tax.

A new analysis of official figures by Labour show evictions by social landlords soared 20% with the introduction of the hated housing levy in 2013.

In the year before Bedroom Tax began to bite councils and housing associations took eviction action against 21,349 tenants.

But after the tax added £14 a week to the rent of a home with one extra bedroom and £25 for two that went up to 25,593 ejections.

According to Ministry of Justice figures that was a rise of 4,244 by the end the third quarter of last year.

Shadow Welfare Reform minister Helen Goodman said: “It led to families unable to pay the rent and losing their homes.

read the rest of tis article in the Mirror here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/more-families-being-rent-apart-5376849

People struggling to ‘simply survive’ the bedroom tax, says new study

 Communities are being pulled apart by the bedroom tax as people struggle to ‘survive’ its effects, says a leading academic at Newcastle University.

Dr Suzanne Moffatt says a new study undermines Government claims that implementing the ‘removal of the spare room subsidy’ in April 2013 would not have a detrimental impact on people’s health and well-being.

Published today in the Journal of Public Health (16 March 2015), the research shows that people affected by the bedroom tax are finding it impossible to manage ever-decreasing incomes, with many spiralling into debt and rent arrears in order to afford bare essentials.

As part of their research, Dr Moffatt’s team also took each of the Government’s suggestions for mitigating the effects of the bedroom tax: downsizing, taking in a lodger, getting a job or increasing working hours – and found them all nearly impossible to achieve.

 

The North East, where the research was carried out, is disproportionately affected by the ‘under-occupancy tax’ (or ‘bedroom tax’ as it is more commonly known) with some 50,000 households estimated to be ‘under-occupying’.

Social housing provider Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) reported in January 2014 that 66% of people affected by the bedroom tax were in rent arrears. Residents were finding it increasingly difficult to buy simple, basic foodstuffs and in some extreme cases, cutting down to just one meal a day, or going to bed early to evade hunger and keep warm – a pattern more prevalent among parents to ensure their children were properly fed.

“A few pounds literally made the difference between falling into debt or not,” says Dr Moffatt. “Budgeting advice was offered by service providers but this could not address the underlying problem that many residents simply had insufficient money to meet basic needs.  Monumental effort was put in by people to simply ‘survive’. Their accounts powerfully demonstrate how loss of income as a result of the bedroom tax has a detrimental effect on mental health, with many saying it had left them feeling ‘hopeless’.”

The research paper ‘A qualitative study of the impact of the UK ‘bedroom tax’ looked at the effects on health and well-being; social relationships and the wider community. It followed people living in Walker, Newcastle upon Tyne, which is in the top 10% most deprived areas of the UK. Around 650 households in this study area were affected by the bedroom tax.