Carlisle transplant patient's bedroom tax fears
Last updated at 14:34, Wednesday, 13 March 2013
A kidney transplant patient says the Government’s new “bedroom tax” will leave him so short of cash that he will be barely able to afford to heat his home.
Michael Johnston, 38, has been warned by his landlord that his housing benefit will be cut by around £12 per week if he wants to continue living in his two-bedroom housing association semi in Manor Place, Upperby, Carlisle.
The reduction kicks in when the controversial “spare room” benefit cut comes into force next month.
The move is part of an effort to cut the nation’s benefits bill and to free up “under-occupied” homes in the country’s social housing sector. Tenants with a spare room must either find a smaller property or face having their benefit cut.
Mr Johnston’s life was transformed 18 months ago when surgeons gave him a new kidney – and before his transplant his spare room was crammed with the equipment he needed for gruelling daily dialysis sessions which lasted for eight hours.
He says she now faces choosing between a 14 per cent cut in his benefits and keeping his spare room – which he insists he will need again should his new kidney fail.
“The Government should think again,” said Mr Johnston, who spoke out as Riverside, the area’s biggest social landlord, confirmed that 1,000 people last year formally applied to be housed in Carlisle – around three times the usual level of demand.
He said: “I’ve always been a grafter, and I got my first job on the same day that I left school by 4pm.
“But I’ve got chronic kidney disease so I can’t work. I was having dialysis for eight hours a day, seven days a week, up until my transplant eighteen months ago. The spare room in my house was where I kept all the equipment, including 30 bags of dialysis fluid. So that room has never been a luxury. Without it, I’d have had to go to hospital every day; and if my kidney fails, I’ll need to use the room again to store all of that equipment. They can give me a one-bedroom flat but I’d need to move back to somewhere with two bedrooms if my new kidney stops working.”
Michael added: “I’ve got £77 a week to live on, and spend £15 to £20 a week on heating. I’d struggle to pay that if I have to lose £12 per week. I’d be freezing.
“The Government has got this one wrong.”
Harraby ward Carlisle city councillor Lee Sherriff, who hopes to become the city’s next Labour MP, said the spare bedroom benefit reductions showed a lack of compassion, and were already damaging Cumbrian communities.
She said: “The Government isn’t looking at the human impact of this.
“These are not just houses; they’re people’s homes, where they have brought up families, and become part of a community. The Government needs to step back and make sure we have the right housing for people’s needs.
“Houses have been sold off under right-to-buy legislation but not replaced.”
Riverside confirmed it currently manages 6,000 homes across the Carlisle area – 1,200 fewer than when the properties were transferred to its predecessor Carlisle Housing Association to in 2002.
Of its original stock, 1,040 were sold through right-to-buy, 60 per cent of them three and four-bedroom houses in high demand areas.
There are currently 4,989 people registered by Riverside who are looking for housing within the city.
Carlisle MP John Stevenson refuted any suggestion the benefit reduction for tenants with a spare room amounted to a “tax”.
He said: “To a very large extent, this new measure is a consequence of the financial mess that the last Labour government left. In reality, these are Labour cuts, not cuts from the coalition.
“On the specifics, the last Labour government introduced this system for private tenants and we are now having to introduce it to the social housing sector.
“There are a lot of people in need of larger homes and we need to accommodate them.
“Tax payers shouldn’t be subsidising people to live in larger houses than they need,” added Mr Stevenson. “There are people out there in need of larger houses.”
Under the Government controversial scheme, which comes into force in three weeks, tenants of working age who are deemed to be “under occupying” a property will have their housing benefits slashed by up to 25 per cent.
First published at 14:33, Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk
Have your say
as a solicitor i would argue the spare bedroom is not spare and not a bedroom.as someone who used to have renal failure and may yet have to return to a kidney machine i am making enquries about a possible legal challenge.
my understanding is that if it is not exempt it could be coscosts nhs over a Â£1k to install at a your homethe costly plumbing for a mains water supply to run a machine means it cannot be a "bedroom"- more like a second bathroom.it cannot be "spare" cos every other day the patient has to be connected up to it for at least 5 hours each sessionso it can never be used by anyone to use as a bedroomsocial landlords may well allow the machine's installation as tenant has some security of tenure.private landlords would be very unlikey to allow- tenant has usually only 6 months security of tenure- this is what the government expects the tenant to do- move to private sector.this would mean dialysis sessions would have to be held at more expensive hospital units.
Jen not sure Peace Protests work in this country anymore, needs to be a Revolution more like! Many will soon be on streets and shop doorways starving, some already are.
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