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'Bedroom tax victimising mentally ill patients'

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'Bedroom tax victimising mentally ill patients'

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Health and also in Housing

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Image: Housing via Shutterstock

The government's controversial bedroom tax is victimising patients with mental health problems, a health campaigner has claimed.

Pam Jenkinson is currently disputing rules that deny mentally ill people the space to allow a carer to stay with them overnight.

Mrs Jenkinson, president of Wokingham Mental Health Association in Berkshire, represented a woman suffering from depression, anxiety and anorexia at an unsuccessful appeal against the bedroom tax last week.

The social housing tenant had fallen into arrears of £845 with Wokingham Borough Council after the local authority deemed she was under-occupying her two-bed flat.

Had she qualified for the higher rate of disability living allowance she would have been exempt for the bedroom tax. However, she only qualified for the middle rate of DLA and was consequently with hit with the tax, losing 14% of her weekly housing benefit.

Mrs Jenkinson said: “I believe a person qualifying for the high rate does not require a second bedroom where their carer can sleep overnight, because a person needing a lot of care has to have a waking carer in the same room in order to receive the frequent care necessary.

“Such people may well require extra space in which to store oxygen cylinders, wheelchairs, dialysis equipment but it is actually people like this lady who need a second bedroom so they can get day care and night care, from time to time, as needed.”

A campaigner for mental health patients for 50 years, Mrs Jenkinson is currently applying for the higher rate of DLA for the bedroom tax victim.

She said: “The mentally ill do not slot into the simplistic pattern of physical handicap.

“Those who make the rules don’t seem to have a clue about mental illness, although it is so terribly common.

“It is so easy to make a ruling if someone is in a wheelchair because you can see the disability.”

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