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Nine stories that expose the utter idiocy that is the bedroom tax

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The bedroom tax, otherwise known as the spare room subsidy, is one of the government's most controversial and unpopular policies, and has been repeatedly highlighted by Scottish nationalists as a reason for independence from Westminster. For good reason.

It places a levy on a person's housing benefit bill if they are deemed to have a "spare" bedroom. The government say this will help free up council homes which are being under-occupied, but the BBC reported a year on from the introduction of the tax only six per cent of tenants affected had moved. Separately, the National Housing Federation said earlier this year that two-thirds of households affected by the policy have fallen into rent arrears.

As a private members' bill to modify some of its especially pernicious effect moves through parliament, here are nine stories about some very different families and individuals in very different circumstances who have all been adversly affected by the tax.


A woman in a Catch 22 situation found a smaller flat suitable for swapping with her current property, but she could not move until she had paid off the arrears she had built up as a result of the bedroom tax.

Source: Rachel Reeves


A domestic violence victim known as Julia lives with her 10-year-old son in a specially adapted three-bedroom house with panic room facilities. Julia's abuser has threatened to kill them both. Under the bedroom tax, Julia either has forgo essentials such as food or heating to meet its charges, or move to a smaller property, none of which have the safety features she and her son need.

Source: The Guardian


A man in Fife suffering from depression and anxiety attempted suicide in a housing office in Fife in 2013 after falling into arrears due to the bedroom tax.

Source: Daily Record/Scottish Affairs Committee


A woman and her husband and son stuck in a one-bedroom flat kept being moved down the priority list for new housing because of the number of people affected by the bedroom tax.

Source: Western Isles Forum of Tenants and Residents’ Associations


A man with Parkinson's and his wife, living in a wheelchair adapted two-bedroom flat. While the wife gets up several times in the night to meet her husband’s care needs, she usually sleeps in the spare bedroom to avoid additional disturbance from her husband's symptoms. Under the bedroom tax they are taxed for the wife's room, although if they were to separate they would not be subject to the tax as a paid carer would have to stay there overnight so the room would not be deemed spare.

Source: Parkinson's UK


Labour MP Stephen Pound’s brother, who is in renal failure, uses his spare bedroom as a dialysis unit but faces losing his home because of the impact of the bedroom tax.

Source: Stephen Pound MP


Army veteran Jim Pritchard sold his medals from the Falklands war for £500 after being left in arrears from the bedroom tax.

Source: Daily Mirror


A couple are full time carers for their 13-year-old grandson, who is unable to walk and talk and is doubly incontinent. They live in a purpose-built house and are both disabled themselves but have been denied any extra money from a discretionary fund that helps disabled people and their families deal with the impact of the bedroom tax called the DHP.

Source: The Guardian


A 51-year-old stroke victim turned to crime and sold his rented TV after falling into debt because of the bedroom tax. He had asked for a smaller property but his council said they did not yet have specially adapted housing available.

Source: Daily Mirror


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