Bedroom tax may force disabled man and his wife to leave Bransholme home
AFTER suffering a stroke and being diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition, former shipyard worker Alex Pattison thought he had seen it all.
But a letter suggesting that he and his wife Susan should move out of what has been their home for nearly 20 years was the last straw.
The couple, who live in Exton Close, Bransholme, are among 4,700 households in the city facing upheaval because of the so-called "bedroom tax".
Under Government welfare changes being brought in next month, they face the choice of having to pay a higher rent because of a cut in housing benefit or find a smaller property.
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Their weekly benefit, which goes towards their rent, is being cut by £13 because under the new rules they are judged to be under-occupying their two-bedroom council house.
Mr Pattison, 58, who suffers from Addison's disease – which often leaves him feeling weak – sleeps in the spare room because of his disabilities.
However, the new reforms take no account of married couples sleeping in different bedrooms.
He said: "I don't want to move anywhere else. This is our home."
His wife Susan, 55, said: "I am Alex's full-time carer and we both need separate bedrooms just have a break from each other.
"It's hard enough to keep things on the straight and narrow with all of Alex's health problems without having to worry about where we are going to find the money to cover this.
"Sometimes it feels like I'm standing on the Titanic. It's just a question of how long will it be before we start sinking.
"Like anyone else, I pay my bills and make sure there is food on the table but it's getting the point where you start wondering whether to start cutting back on food to pay for the extra rent."
Mrs Pattison said she saw no sense in moving to a one-bedroom council property where a large number of costly adaptations would be required before her husband could move in.
Yesterday Labour's shadow works and pensions secretary Liam Byrne visited the couple as his party launched a national campaign against the "bedroom tax". He said: "When you meet people like Alex and Susan who have worked hard and spent of a lot of their own money on adaptations to their home, you realise how out of touch the ministers who came up with these reforms really are.
"It's all very well telling people they should move to a smaller property but in Hull that equates to 4,700 households going after just 73 currently available properties."
Councillor Phil Webster, the city council's portfolio holder for finance, said foster carers and families with children serving in the Armed Forces would also be hit under the new rules for social housing tenants if they were deemed to have spare bedrooms in their properties.
"It's not too late for the Government to change its mind on this," he said.