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Families tell how benefit cuts will affect them
6:00am Monday 25th February 2013 in News
CONCERN is mounting about the effect on vulnerable residents of the so-called bedroom tax, due to be introduced as part of the Government's Welfare Reform Act. Barry Nelson speaks to two families who will be affected.
AFTER years of difficulties, Maureen Hagan thought she was beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The grandmother, from Grangetown, near Middlesbrough, who lives with her 17-year-old grand-daughter, recently moved to a three-bedroomed housing association property to help in her efforts to gain custody of her 14-year-old grandson.
But unless she moves to a two bedroomed property she will have to pay up to £15 a week extra to provide a bedroom for her grandson.
Unable to work because of a medical condition and reliant on benefits, Mrs Hagan said she will have to cut down on food, electricity and gas if they want to retain the third bedroom and stand any chance of reuniting the family.
"I want that bedroom for my grandson," she said. "He wants to come home to his family. I have had sleepness nights over this and I don't know what is going to happen."
Mrs Hagan, who volunteers for a Thornaby-based charity called Thrive, which assists people with debt problems, added: "My grandson wants so much to come but they are going to penalise me."
In County Durham, a Ferryhill man who is suffering from kidney disease fears the bedroom space he may need for a home dialysis machine in the future could be at risk.
The 39-year-old, who does not want to be named, has custody of his 11-year-old son at weekends.
The youngster has his own room at the homes of both his parents, but his father has now been informed that his property is classed as under occupied. He will either have to move to a smaller property or pay about £22 a week.
"We will have to find that somewhere, even though after we have paid for gas, electricity and food we are lucky if we have £10 a week left over," he said.
But there is no question of moving, because this would reduce access to his son.
"A couple of weeks ago he told me he would sell his Christmas presents if it meant he could keep his bedroom. That broke my heart."
Will you be affected by the bedroom tax? Tell us your story by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call Barry Nelson on 01325-505075.
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