Camden single father could lose home shared with children under ‘bedroom tax’

A single father due to be hit by the government’s controversial “bedroom tax” faces a nervous wait to discover whether he will be driven out of the home he often shares with his son and daughter.

The man, 56, is one of an estimated 3,000 Camden residents who will be affected by the changes to housing benefit for council tenants, dubbed the “bedroom tax”, on April 1.

The father-of-three lives in a two-bedroom council flat in Chalton Street, Euston, which he shares with his 20-year-old daughter and 17-year-old disabled son at weekends and during school holidays.

During visits from his children, the father currently sleeps on a sofa bed in the hallway, giving up his bedroom to his daughter and the other bedroom to his son – who is forced to use a walking frame at all times after suffering from an illness as a child.

Under the new rules, the man's second bedroom will be classed as a spare room, leading to a 14 per cent cut in his housing benefit.

“It can’t be right because it’s not a spare room,” he said. “It’s my son’s room. I will have to move out to a smaller flat and that will mean that my family will scatter because I won’t be able to have them for school holidays and weekends.”

It is a problem faced by thousands of single parents whose children are not deemed to live with them full-time.

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As part of the government changes, council tenants who have one spare room will have their benefits cut by 14 per cent and those with two or more spare rooms by 25 per cent. The government says this will help cut £23billion from the annual housing benefit bill, free up more living space for overcrowded families and encourage people to get jobs.

New government funding of £155million to support residents hit by the benefit changes may provide a lifeline for the Camden dad, who is himself registered disabled after previously losing an eye and breaking his back in separate incidents.

Camden Council will receive £1.7million from the fund to assist social housing tenants.

Cllr Theo Blackwell, cabinet member for finance, said: “In special circumstances we are able to make discretionary payments to help mitigate the effects of the benefit changes and each case will be decided on its individual merits.

“The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) gave us only a limited amount of money to help out, so [this man] needs to contact us as soon as possible to discuss his circumstances and see if he qualifies for consideration.”

He may also have his hopes boosted by a High Court bid to bring a judicial review of the “bedroom tax” on behalf of ten vulnerable and disabled children.