Grieving parents fight tax change

Becky Bell pictured with parents Julie and Mark and brother Mark and sister Vicki.
Becky Bell pictured with parents Julie and Mark and brother Mark and sister Vicki.

THE parents of tragic cancer victim Becky Bell have been told they will have to pay more than £650 a year for their daughter’s untouched bedroom ahead of the launch of the Government’s controversial new ‘bedroom tax.’

The seven-year-old’s ashes are in her bedroom, which is as exactly it was when she lost her devastating battle with brain cancer in January last year.

But just one month after she passed away Becky’s parents, Julie and Mark, were told the bedroom was now classed as a “spare room” and that they must pay £56 a month from April.

Julie, 41, said: “It doesn’t bear to think about them calling it a spare room, it’s Becky’s room.

“It’s not her fault she’s not here anymore and to us she is still here.

“We don’t want to be different to anyone else and some people may think a year is a long time but when you have been through what we have been through it isn’t and we are still grieving.

“But the Government don’t see that, they don’t look at individual circumstances, all they see is the pound signs.”

Under the controversial changes, both social housing tenants in employment and those in receipt of housing benefit will be affected by the bedroom tax if they are found to be under-occupying their homes.

From April households under-occupancy will see their benefits slashed by around £13 a week for one bedroom or £22 for two bedrooms.

Those houses not in receipt of housing benefit will also be forced to pay the tax.

Julie, who is currently out of work, and Mark, 37, a part-time taxi driver are Housing Hartlepool tenants and receive around £40 a week in housing benefits.

With the introduction of the bedroom tax they will need to pay £672 a year for Becky’s room.

Just two days before the year anniversary of Becky’s passing they visited Hartlepool MP Iain Wright, who backed them in their fight against the changes.

Mr Wright described the circumstances as “heartbreaking” and has sent a letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, expressing his dismay at situation.

Julie, who lives in the Rift House area of Hartlepool and is also a mum of Vicki, 24, and Mark, 12, added: “It’s not the money that’s the issue,”

“If we did have a spare room we would be more than happy to pay the money.

“But it’s the fact that Becky’s room is being called a spare room, that’s what I can’t get my head around.

“In our house we don’t have a spare room, it’s Becky’s bedroom, everything is still there exactly how it was.

“We are not asking for the world but even if we were allowed another year to grieve, at this moment in time we are still grieving.

“But the Government don’t think about the fact that every family is different.

“No two houses are the same but they don’t look at that, they just think of the money.”