Anger over bedroom tax

Roy Page who is having housing difficulties over the number of bedrooms he uses,  June 3rd 2013. E23116P
Roy Page who is having housing difficulties over the number of bedrooms he uses, June 3rd 2013. E23116P

An Eastbourne resident who says a medical condition forces him to sleep in a separate room to his wife has slammed the system which sees him having to pay nearly £10 a week in bedroom tax.

Roy Page has obstructive sleep apnoea and wears a CPAP machine each night that he says is noisy and keeps his wife awake. Therefore the 60-year-old sleeps in a third bedroom, with his wife and their 18-year-old son who has ADHD, among other conditions, occupying the other two. But because of new legislation the amount of benefit that people can get if they are deemed to have a spare bedroom in their council or housing association home has been cut.

The retired Myrtle Road resident had a request for a discretionary payment to help with the housing costs turned down after a letter from Eastbourne Borough Council said he had an excess income of nearly £143.03 – which according to the local authority is a weekly excess - and said there was a £9.86 per week shortfall in the rent.

But Mr Page said, “I have a condition and I have to sleep in there so I do not upset my wife and I don’t think it’s right for me to pay £10 a week.”

Mr Page says money he does have goes towards covering necessities such as petrol and taking their son out.

His wife Melanie added, “He has to use that machine every night. If he’s in the same room as me I end up not sleeping and resting.”

An Eastbourne Borough Council spokesperson said, “We are not able, under current national legislation, to assist council tenants with meeting bedroom tax for a third bedroom in circumstances such as these. In this particular case, we also do not feel the financial case for an additional Discretionary Housing Payment by the council is justified given the person’s current levels of income. As with all local authorities, the pressure on Eastbourne’s Discretionary Housing Payment budget is extremely high and we have to prioritise assistance based on demand. However, we would urge all tenants with any concerns to call the East Sussex Welfare Reform Advice line on 0333 344 0681.”