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Merseyside: Mother To Pay #BedroomTax For Severely Disabled Daughter’s Sensory Room

January 2, 2014

A Merseyside woman must pay the bedroom tax on a room which has been converted into a sensory area for her severely disabled daughter.


Dawn Lennon faces finding more than £570 a year because the government has deemed the room to be spare.


But she said the room was vital for the care of Kelly Marie, 28, who is blind and unable to walk and talk.


It contains a ball pool and is also used to store Kelly Marie’s wheelchairs.


Mrs Lennon said she was now facing having to cut back on food in order to remain in her Liverpool Housing Trust bungalow.


Although she has been awarded a discretionary housing payment that should cover the shortfall for the start of the year, the future is uncertain. 

She said: “It’s going to be a real struggle. The room is not being used as a bedroom, it’s a light room for Kelly Marie, with a ball pool in it.


“I also keep the wheelchairs and other things in there that I use to push her around the house because she can’t walk and I can’t lift her.”


Mrs Lennon, 52, is one of up to 30,000 people across the region who have been hit with the bedroom tax.


Between them they face paying up to £16m a year to make up the shortfall in benefits that the government has withdrawn, or face losing their homes. Mrs Lennon, of Castlefields, Runcorn, added: “I’m having to cut back on everything, absolutely everything.


“I have to cut back on food and just get the basics in and look for the cheapest things all the time.


“And it’s not even a bedroom at all. It makes me so angry when I think about it.”


Studies by Merseyside housing associations leading the charge against the bedroom tax have found a significant proportion of people eligible to pay it are either disabled or carers for disabled people.


The Real Life Reform group suggests up to two thirds of people affected by the bedroom tax could have some form of disability.


Through monitoring 87 homes that have agreed to take part in the study, the group has found that a third of households now spends less than £20 a week on food.


And half of them now have no money at all left each week once the bills are paid, up from 39% in July.


The bedroom tax was introduced on April 1. 


The government claims the end of what it terms the ‘spare room subsidy’ makes the housing situation fairer and will free up larger homes for families who need them.


A DWP spokesman said: “Reform of housing benefit is essential.


“However, we are giving local authorities £150m Discretionary Housing Payment funding this year support vulnerable people, including £25m to help people who live in accommodation that has been adapted for their disabilities.”

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