by Tim Lamden
Thursday, February 21, 2013
A woman with cerebral palsy has hit out at Camden Council for suspending her benefits after she failed to complete a form confirming the number of bedrooms in her flat.
Claire Glasman, of Fleet Road, Hampstead, has had her housing benefits suspended this month in relation to new assessment rules – dubbed the “bedroom tax”.
The 52-year-old suffers from spinal curvature and relies on a wheelchair.
Ms Glasman says she found out her benefit had been halted only when she called the council to check if it was OK. This followed the discovery that her friend’s claim had been suspended after he failed to complete the form.
“When you claim housing benefit, you fill in a detailed form about the property,” she said.
“I declined to fill in the new form since the council already had the information and I didn’t see why I should help them implement the welfare reforms in Camden.
“I’m not even subject to the bedroom tax as I have a small flat. I was so furious because they cut me off and they should know that I only have one bedroom.
“They just don’t care what’s happening to people. They just want to implement the welfare reforms and see people go to the wall.”
Ms Glasman, a member of Kentish Town disability rights group Winvisible, believes the government’s benefits reforms will plunge Camden’s most vulnerable residents into crisis.
As part of the government changes, due to be introduced in April, tenants deemed to have one spare room in their council house will have their housing benefit cut by 14 per cent.
If they have two or more spare rooms, the cut will be 25 per cent.
The government says the move will help cut the £23billion annual bill for housing benefit, free up more living space for overcrowded families and encourage people to get jobs.
But Ms Glasman, who suffers constant pain and fatigue from muscle spasms, said: “Disabled people are in such a terrifying state because all our benefits are being threatened. This is a crisis for us – why are the poorest people having our benefits cut and our taxes increased?”
Camden’s finance boss Cllr Theo Blackwell said that the council had either sent a letter or visited the home of every resident it believed might be affected by the bedroom tax and asked them to fill in and return a form confirming their circumstances.
He said: “Both posted and hand-delivered letters stressed that failure to return the form within one month of the date of the letter could result in their benefit being suspended or cancelled.
“If contact with the council is made after benefits have been suspended, they will be reinstated.”