UK & World News
'Bedroom Tax' Suicide: Grandmother Was Exempt
A woman who killed herself and left a note blaming the Government's so-called "bedroom tax" would in fact have been exempt and eligible for a refund, it has emerged.
Stephanie Bottrill would not have had to pay the tax due to a loophole in the legislation, drafted by the Department of Work and Pensions, according to Sky sources.
The loophole means working age tenants in social housing, who have occupied the same home continuously since 1996, are exempt from the tax.
Ms Bottrill had lived in her £320-a-month home for 18 years.
But she believed she was eligible for the tax and would have to find an extra £80 every month.
Ms Bottrill, 53, wrote in her final letter, in May 2013: "I don't [blame] anyone for me death expect [sic] the Government."
At the time, her son Steven, 27, said she was struggling to cope after being told to pay £20-a-week extra for two under-occupied bedrooms at her home in Solihull.
He told the Sunday People: "I couldn't believe it. She said not to blame ourselves, it was the Government and what they were doing that caused her to do it.
"She was fine before this bedroom tax. It was dreamt up in London, by people living in offices and big houses. They have no idea the effect it has on people like my mum."
Chris Bryant, Labour shadow minister for welfare reform, said: "It's a terribly sad story. I feel for her, for her family, her friends and the many neighbours who I know were very fond of her."
The loophole exists because housing benefit regulations dating from 1996 were not updated when the coalition drafted the law on spare room subsidies.
A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions, said: "We won't comment on one specific case.
"The reasons behind suicide are complex and it would be insensitive to put it down to this.
"The Government has given £190m to councils to help vulnerable people and we will continue to work with them."
The Samaritans said that "although a catalyst may appear to be obvious, suicide is seldom the result of a single factor or event and is likely to have several inter-related causes".
:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or CALM on 0800 58 58 58.
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