Bereaved Cwmbran man faces bedroom tax move
10:29am Tuesday 1st April 2014 in News
Cwmbran tenant Kevin Reeve is being forced out of his three befroomed house owing to the bedroom tax. He cared for his wheel chaired father until the end of last year before he passed away. Pictured is Kevin outside his home in Cwmbran. (4922919)
A TENANT who looked after his wheelchair-bound father until his death last year says he is being forced to leave his family home of 50 years because of the bedroom tax.
Kevin Reeve, 52, says he has become one of the latest victims of the ‘under occupancy’ tax.
Mr Reeve says he can no longer afford to pay for bills at his three-bedroom house in Cwmbran.
His family has lived in the Bron Afon Community Housing property for five decades.
His 67-year-old mum Doreen died of cancer in 1997 and his 86-year-old father Victor, who suffered from arthritis, died last year.
Government handouts including his carer’s allowance and the disability allowance Victor received stopped when he died.
Mr Reeve says he is now struggling to live on £71 a week but faces having to pay the monthly under occupancy charge of between £35 and £45 twice, as two of the bedrooms in his home are empty. He says he has to move rather than get into rent arrears.
Mr Reeve, of Bryn Eglwys, Croesyceiliog, said: “My dad only died at Christmas – we were exempt then.
“It’s impossible. I’m paying the electrics and gas, all out of £71. I spend £7 or £8 a week on food.
“I think it’s disgusting. The bedroom tax is driving people out of their homes.
“If push comes to shove, I will have to move out of the area but I don’t want to. I like the area and the community.”
Mr Reeve goes to a rent office several times a month to check if there are smaller flats he could move into.
But he has not found a suitable place so far and has been told it could be some time before a vacancy becomes available.
He said: “I keep my head above water just about. I just keep on struggling, this is all I can do.
“I will have to downsize before I can go anywhere. There are lots of things at home I will have to give to my family if they want them or get rid of.”
Ian Simpson, Bron Afon’s director of community housing and support, said: “The last year has been a challenge with many of the government’s changes to benefits coming in.
“We have worked really hard to support all our tenants through these difficult times while keeping on top of rent collection.
“We urge any tenants who are struggling with the bedroom tax or any aspect of their rent or income to contact us straight away as we’re keen to do our best to help them.
“We want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has kept up to date with their rent.
“Those payments meant that in these difficult times we are able to maintain services rather than cut them and provide support where people need it.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman told the Argus: “The removal of the spare room subsidy is necessary to return fairness to housing benefit.
The spokesman added: “Even after the policy change we still pay the majority of most claimants’ rent, but it’s not affordable to pay housing benefit for people to have spare rooms.
“We have given councils in Wales £7 million this year to support vulnerable people who need extra help through the reforms, and have just announced that this will be increased to £7.8 million next year.”