Sheffield dad wins battle against ‘bedroom tax’ changes

Single Dad Gary Perry , with his children
Single Dad Gary Perry , with his children
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A SINGLE Sheffield dad has been promised his disabled son can keep his own room - after The Star helped to resolve a row over the ‘bedroom tax’.

Gary Perry, aged 33, had been told it would cost him £60 a month for his third bedroom - currently occupied by disabled son, Nero, three - because the council claimed Nero could share with sister Ellie-May, five.

Nero has curvature of the spine which, among other symptoms, causes him to vomit violently during the night.

Gary moved only last year from his old two-bed maisonette into a three-bedroom house in Fox Hill, specifically so his daughter could sleep undisturbed in a room of her own - on direct advice from Sheffield Children’s Hospital and the council.

But, two weeks ago, Gary received a letter from the council informing him his housing benefit will be cut by £60 a month, as children under the age of 10 can share a room.

Now, after The Star contacted the council on his behalf, Gary has been told he will be exempt.

The council said there has been a change in Government policy covering disabled people - and apologised for distress caused.

Gary said: “The council and Sheffield Children’s Hospital both said we need three bedrooms so Ellie-May’s sleep isn’t disturbed. I’d like to thank The Star for taking on my story and helping me. Hopefully this will help other people in a similar situation.”

Coun Mazher Iqbal, Sheffield Council cabinet member for communities, said: “We are doing everything we can to ensure people are fairly assessed.”

* The ‘Bedroom Tax’ is in fact a cut in housing benefit for people with spare bedrooms.

* The nickname derives from the ‘window tax’ of centuries ago in which homes were taxed according to how many windows they had - leading to some owners bricking-up windows.

* From April, all current and future working age tenants will receive housing benefit based on the size of their household - rather than the size of their home.

* Pensioners, parents with adult children in the armed forces and some disabled people will continue to receive housing benefit for an extra room.

* Children under 16 of the same gender are expected to share bedrooms, and children under 10 of either sex are expected to share.

* The Government says the change will encourage people with spare rooms to ‘downsize’ - freeing up larger properties for families, to address a shortage.

* But in Sheffield, an estimated 7,000 households will be affected.

* Sheffield Council said there are not enough smaller properties to house everyone if they want to move due to the change.

* The change is part of £10 billion of benefit cuts.