News: 'Bedroom tax' couple's open letter to Iain Duncan Smith


Lisa, who is disabled, and her partner Brett will lose £21.85 a week in Housing Benefit when the 'bedroom tax' is introduced in April. Last month, Lisa and Brett told ITV news about their worries, and now Lisa has written this letter to Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions:

Dear Mr Duncan Smith,

We are a couple living in a 2 bedroom specially adapted bungalow owned by charity Papworth Trust. I have Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy which confines me to my electric wheelchair. I rely totally on my partner who provides my care 24 hours a day, including washing, dressing, helping feeding, toileting and moving me up to 6 times a night, basically I need help with all aspects of my life.

We get 7 hours a week respite care so my partner can have some time to himself and 2 hours emergency respite as my partner gets frequent migraines and has arthritis and cannot care for me while he is ill. We also have a good network of family and friends who often stay with us to give a break or when he is unwell.

Due to the nature of my disability I am in constant pain and my legs have a lot of spasms. In order for my partner to get some quality sleep in between getting up to help me and so he can care for me the next day, he sleeps in our second bedroom.

We've received a letter from our Council telling us we are under occupying by one bedroom and will have to pay £21.85 each week. We may be entitled to a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) but this is not a long term solution to our situation and is limited.

We have previously written to the Council explaining our situation but have been told that because we are a couple and it's my partner that provides nearly all of my care, we do not fit the criteria for the second bedroom.

We strongly feel that this new law is discriminating against couples in our situation and that it needs to be looked into so that if there is a genuine need for the extra bedroom, discretion could be used. There are other people in my area who because they have their sister or mother providing their overnight care they are not affected by the new changes, but because he is my partner we have to pay.

The change could end up costing the local authorities a lot more money than the rent on a second bedroom if they have to provide the overnight care that the people like my partner do out of love.

We would urge you and your government to look at situations like ours as there are many others who are affected by this new rule.

We would also like to invite you to come and meet us to see first-hand how the 'bedroom tax' is going to affect us and many others in similar situations.

Yours sincerely,
Lisa Munden

6 March 2013

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