Tenant hit by bedroom tax death took own life - coroner
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities
50,000 North East families hit by ‘bedroom tax’
A coroner has ruled that a woman hit by the government's controversial bedroom tax committed suicide.
Stephanie Bottrill died after walking in front of a lorry on the M6.
The 53-year-old left behind a note that blamed the Tory-led coalition's under-occupancy policy for driving her to take her own life.
Mrs Bottrill lived alone in a three-bed council house in Solihull. Her two 'spare' bedrooms meant she was docked 25% of her housing benefit under the bedroom tax.
In her suicide note, Mrs Bottrill said: "It's my life, the only people to blame are the government."
Last May, Mrs Bottrill climbed over a safety barrier and on to the M6 motorway before walking in front of a passing lorry.
Police concluded that there was nothing the lorry's driver could have done to avoid Mrs Bottrill.
However, Keith Owens, Mrs Bottril's brother, said he wasn't convinced his sister's suicide was completely caused by the bedroom tax.
He said: "Much has been written about bedroom tax pushing her - it wasn't, because prior to that she'd attempted suicide before and that hadn't been reported before.
"It might have been the catalyst to push her but was it just an excuse she was looking for?"
In the wake of the bedroom tax, Solihull Council offered Mrs Bottrill the chance to downsize to another property about six miles away from her home.
Speaking outside his sister's inquest, Mr Owens said that Mrs Bottrill "wasn't prepared to give somebody else a chance" by leaving her home.
He said: "It's terrible that people in this country are cramped into one and two-bedroom flats with children while other people sit on three-bedroom houses."
In a statement, the Department for Work and Pensions said: "This is a tragic case. Our sympathies are with her family. There are often complex reasons as to why people may commit suicide and we would not comment further."
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