Mother denied smaller home criticises ‘bedroom tax’

Jane Clarke at her Dogsthorpe home, who is one of many who will be affected be the so-called 'Bedroom Tax'. Photo: Alan Storer
Jane Clarke at her Dogsthorpe home, who is one of many who will be affected be the so-called 'Bedroom Tax'. Photo: Alan Storer
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A mum of two from Peterborough is bracing herself to become one of the first victims of the Government’s so-called ‘bedroom tax’.

Jane Clarke (42), of Chestnut Avenue, Dogsthorpe, is set to lose out by £15 a week under the changes to housing benefit, due to come into effect from 1st April.

Mrs Clarke, a freelance hairdresser, lives with her sons aged 15 and 11 in a three-bedroom property, but will be penalised until her eldest son’s next birthday.

Under the legislation children of the same sex aged 16 or under are expected to share a room.

It means Mrs Clarke is deemed to need just two bedrooms and will have her housing benefit cut to reflect this new fact.

This is despite her 15-year-old being 6ft 5ins tall and needing a king size bed to comfortably sleep at night.

To add insult to injury, Mrs Clarke said she was not allowed to bid for a two-bedroom house when she went to Peterborough City Council for help to find a home for herself and her children two years ago.

She said: “I was told I couldn’t have one, that I wasn’t allowed.

“ I had to apply for a three-bedroom property. I’m now being told I’m under occupied.”

“How many people have they told ‘you have to have a three-bedroom house’ and are now going to get charged for the privilege.”

Mrs Clarke says she is merely going to suffer the additional costs until her eldest son’s birthday in January.

She said: “Luckily, it’s not going to affect me for too long. It’s the principle I’m annoyed about.”

Mrs Clarke will be among campaigners taking part in a protest outside Peterborough Town Hall, in Bridge Street, on March 16 at 1pm.

The rally has been organised by city councillor Lisa Forbes.

Cllr Forbes said: “It is neither right nor fair that people are being forced against their will from their homes.

“These are homes where they have in many cases brought up their families, their home in the communities in which they feel a part.”

Are you affected by the housing benefit changes?:

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Estimating the impact of the tax

More than 1,600 local people will be hit by the bedroom tax.

This is according to an estimate from the National Housing Federation.

Of these 1,677 in all, it expects 1,057 to be disabled.

However, Peterborough City Council has proposed to allow discretion to award an extra bedroom to those who require it because they have a member of the household who is disabled.

More detail and information on the ‘bedroom tax’ from the National housing Federation - www.housing.org.uk

Details on: Housing Benefit size criteria in the social rented sector from Dept. for Work and Pensions - www.dwp.gov.uk