THE FAMILY of a seven-year-old cancer victim have lost their appeal against the Government’s controversial ‘bedroom tax’.
Hartlepool girl Becky Bell died in January last year after battling brain cancer. Her parents, Julie and Mark, kept her bedroom as a shrine, leaving it untouched in memory of their brave daughter.
Under new Government legislation, the room is now considered spare and, from April, Mr and Mrs Bell will have to pay more than £670 a year to keep the shrine or move into a smaller property.
The family, backed by Hartlepool MP Iain Wright, recently appealed to the Government.
Mrs Bell, 41, said: “The Government say they sympathise with us but it didn’t take them long to make the decision.
"We are just disappointed, obviously. What annoys us the most is the fact they class it as a spare room. It isn’t a spare room, it’s Becky’s room. But the Government don’t see it like that, do they? It’s just about the money for them.”
She added: “What we said from the very start is we don’t want to be treated differently, we weren’t asking for the world just maybe a year more to grieve.
"It is still raw for us and situations like this don’t make it any easier, we didn’t want to be in this situation.”
A letter from Lord Freud, the Government’s Minister for Welfare Reform, said: “I was sorry to read of Mr and Mrs Bell’s loss and I fully sympathise with their desire to remain in a home that holds many memories for them.”
It went on to say that the family would not be eligible for help from the £30m Discretionary Payments Budget set up to assist disabled people and foster carers in keeping their homes.
A spokeswoman for landlords Housing Hartlepool, said: “We are proactively liaising with those likely to be affected and will continue to meet with Mr and Mrs Bell, along with many other tenants affected by this policy, to ensure they receive the best possible advice and support during these difficult times.”
Under the new rules – which will affect social housing tenants in employment and those in receipt of housing benefit - households under occupancy will have their benefits cut by around £13 a week for one bedroom or £22 for two.