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.”