The possible damning effects of the bedroom tax are now becoming reality, and as Frances Ryan finds, people are struggling with arrears and trying desperately to hold off eviction.
Mobility bars run through Stuart Hughes’s three-bed home. There’s a wet room too and an added downstairs toilet, each put there by his local council and social services as his osteo arthritis has worsened.
Stuart, 53, has been in this house for sixteen years. There’s enough room for his two teenage sons; the eldest, 17, who lives here full time and his youngest, 14, who stays when Stuart’s ex-wife, who also has severe arthritis, doesn’t feel up to it. Both children are disabled themselves; the eldest has metal pins in both hips and both boys have mild to high functioning autism.
These details, however, are deemed as irrelevances under the “bedroom tax” policy and Stuart (left) and the children – judged as “under-occupying” – are now losing £10 a week. Living on an income that’s both fixed and low due to his disability leaving him unable to work, it’s obvious this is money Stuart doesn’t have.
He’s fallen into arrears and the family have been given warning of eviction. Wrexham council have now sent three letters informing Stuart of their intention to seek possession of his home.
The first was sent only three weeks after the tax began – when Stuart owed just £39.80.
Two more followed – the wording remaining the same and the figure owed increasing. “I was devastated [when I received the letters],” Stuart tells me. “I already had a lot of stress in my life through everyday living with my health problems and four years of fighting to get my benefits… I just managed to get on top of my debts after all that and then to have the threat of losing my home…”
daily alternative | alternative news – The next stage of the bedroom tax: families threatened with eviction