One of our Commissioners shares their experience of the Bedroom Tax…
I am a disabled lady who suffers from chronic Crohn’s Disease, osteoarthritis ad depression. I currently live in a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, flat with my partner and daughter.
Due to the nature of my illness, 2-4 nights a week I need to sleep in my spare room (my mattress and bedding needs to be stripped off and washed due to sickness and diarrhoea) as my bed’s mattress is wet. I also need to use the bathroom at least 4-6 times a day, sometimes up to an hour at a time, or as often as every fifteen minutes. With having two bathrooms it makes life easier (for my family members).
I contacted Money Maters in March this year and they filled in a DHP (Discretionary Housing Payments) form for me and also an “Additional Bedroom Allowance” form. I enclosed a letter from my doctor saying I needed a 2 bathroom house and my extra bedroom. I had previously told GHA I was willing to downsides to a 2 bed, 2 bathroom house (and I could put a spare bed in my daughters room) but they said they did not have any 2 bed, 2 bathroom homes.
I felt I was being penalised due to my illness, and the council having no alternative accommodation to suit my needs, by having to pay £40.16 monthly bedroom tax. That might not sound like a lot of money to most people, but when it has to be found out of an already stretched benefit income it is a lot. I paid my first £40.16 out of Aprils ESA payment. I took the money out of my “food allowance” budget, and for the 3 days before my next fortnightly payment of ESA was due, I lived on toast so the rest of my family could eat properly. If I don’t receive DHP, I will have to do this every month.
The worry, and stress of finding this extra money, has had a huge impact on my health condition and stress levels. I feel I am fighting a losing battle just to “survive on benefits”.