Case study considers effect of bedroom tax on disabled tenants
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities, Finance, Universal Credit
A housing association has conducted a case study on one of its tenants to gauge the effect that the Government's bedroom tax might have on disabled people.
Grand Union Housing Group says that Amy Warren is one of many disabled people who are "terrified" about the potential effects of the forthcoming welfare reforms.
Amy, who has been disabled since birth and walks with a stick with difficulty, lives alone in a specially adapted two-bedroomed bungalow.
On some days she is unable to walk, and has suffered with depression since she was made redundant. She now works as a volunteer with her landlord, South Northants Homes (SNH), part of Grand Union.
The 35-year-old makes a point of informing herself about money matters and knows she is set to lose 14 percent of her housing benefit under the bedroom tax. Under the new rules she will be deemed to be under-occupying her home, which means she will have to find an extra £13 a week.
She is also frightened that with the introduction of Universal Credit later in the year, which will be paid in arrears, she will have to find a whole month’s rent – nearly £400 – up front.
Being disabled, she may qualify for Discretionary Housing Payments but she doesn’t hold out much hope.
Amy said: “I have been told this might be a small payment which won’t go anywhere. But I consider myself luckier than some. What about disabled people who are living in three or four bedroomed family homes? They might have lived there for years.
“I would love to work. I worked before in various jobs, but always sitting. I worked for the Nationwide for five years. Then I moved to a smaller place. But my health suffered. Then I got made redundant. I really hope to be able to work again. It’s just really hard with my disabilities.”
Amy underwent 13 operations throughout her childhood and was told she probably wouldn’t be able to walk at all in her 20s. She has struggled on but because of a subsequent injury to her neck and shoulder she is also unable to use a manual wheelchair.
She continued: “When you’re living on benefits it’s really hard to make the cuts we’re going to have to make. I consider myself quite well-informed about it all. I have taken an interest. But people are just gob-smacked when they find out what it’s going to mean.
“I really want to work. I had always worked until my health meant I had to stop. It’s not that I don’t want to work.”
In the meantime she has started working as a volunteer tenant representative for SNH in the hope this will put her in better stead to get a job which might suit her health needs.