Opinion: Is bedroom tax cruel?

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Have your say

Today I am appealing to a Sheffielder – perhaps several – to step forward and tell others exactly what the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ is doing to them.

Essentially the tax affects those in social housing, who it goes without saying are almost certainly living relatively modest lives. But still, we’re all in it together, we’re told, so everyone has to pay up.

Figures published by The Star on page two today suggest that over 4,000 households are affected by the extra levy (which it is claimed is actually the removal of a subsidy).

Either way, that’s a sizeable chunk of people who are going to have to find an extra £100 or so a month.

In one recent case the pressure of having to find that extra cash led to one woman deliberately taking her own life – she stepped out in front of a lorry on the M6.

Is that what this Government is hoping the rest of them will do? Throw themselves under a lorry so that their properties can be reclaimed and sold off to plug the financial gap left by years of fiscal frivolity?

Imagine you’re a 50-something woman who has just lost her husband. He worked in the steel industry all his life but as times grew tough, they ended up needing help and are on benefits.

They raised a good family – three hardworking boys, in fact, who all have good jobs and families of their own – in a three-bedroom semi that they’ve called home for the majority of their lives.

But now Sheffield City Council has come knocking for extra cash. They want that widow to pay for the privilege of staying in her home, but the woman can’t pay and has little hope of getting a job owing to her own physical limitations. She’s trapped.

I won’t tell you who this person is, but they exist. They’re annoyed that the council has £30m in uncollected debts. They feel isolated, afraid and alone – but I’m convinced they’re not alone. Please call us so that we can try to help. We want to tell YOUR story.

by James Mitchinson