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Couple take bedroom tax hit to keep shrine to dead son

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Couple take bedroom tax hit to keep shrine to dead son

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Local Government

Council Tax Council Tax

A couple who lost their son to cancer are prepared to pay the bedroom tax to keep a shrine to his memory.

Cheryl and Michael Chapman's son Tony passed away in 2002 after 10 years of ill health.

Since his death, the couple have kept his former bedroom as he left it as a shrine to his memory.

The Chapmans will see their housing benefit slashed by £29 a week when the bedroom tax begins in April but told the BBC that they would go without food to keep their son's room.

The couple have been deemed as under-occupying their three-bedroom social home in Welwyn and have been offered a one-bedroom flat by their local authority.

Welwyn and Hatfield Council said that around 900 homes would be exposed to the bedroom tax and affected tenants had been informed.

The Chapmans have health problems and have not worked since their son died.

Speaking to the BBC, Mrs Chapman said: "Tony was a lovely, happy boy who loved to tell jokes.

"He was four-and-a-half when we were told he had a blood disease and that started 10 years of visits to hospitals.

"We have kept the room as it was when he died. His hats, which he used to wear when he lost his hair, are hung up next to his posters and pictures of him.

"Some people have said we should move on but the pain of loss that you suffer every day does not go away.

"All our memories of him are in this house where he grew up.

"We can't really afford the £29 but we'll go without food rather than move away."

The council said: "If they wish to remain in their property and receive less housing benefit then by all means this is their choice.

"Neither the benefit service nor the trust has any intention of placing pressure on them to transfer to a smaller property."

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