Listen, I know tumblr only cares about American news, but this is really fucking tragic, and if this doesn’t get an coverage I will be incredibly angry.
The conservative’s bedroom tax has actually led to a woman taking her own life. Let me repeat that for you; a peice of government legislation had had such a detrimental impact on someone’s life that they wrote letters, packed up their things, and walked into the M4 in front of a lorry. The bedroom tax has only be in place for the last 5 weeks.
For those of you that don’t know, the bedroom tax isn’t technically a tax; if you’re living in a rented property, and have an extra bedroom, you’ll have to pay a certain amount of money back to the government. Children under the age of 12 are expected to share with all their siblings, children under 16 are expected to share with their siblings of the same gender. The government placed no limits on how many children could be expected to share a room. It would have saved the government £490 million a year; the UK loses £5.2 Billion a year in tax evasion alone. [citation]
Stephanie Botrill, from Solihull, had lived in her house for 18 years, and her two children had, relatively recently moved into their own properties, one of them within the last year. She previously paid a rent of £320 a month, and bedroom tax would have meant she paid £400; she was having to starve herself to afford this. Let me reiterate that for you; a woman was having to go without food because of a cruel tory policy. The house the council offered her was nowhere near where she currently lived, and 30 minutes walk from the nearest bus station; she would have been nowhere near her family and friends. To make matters worse, the council said she’d have to pay for any damage to the house, which would have exceeded the £2000 she was given to move house.
Stephanie had been saying since the policy came in how she couldn’t cope. She even went to the GP, but only got sleeping pills. In the end, it all got too much, and she wrote letters to her children, grandson, friends, and neighbors and walked into the M4, dying instantly.
The Sunday People has photos of the letters, but I won’t post them because they broke my heart, but if you want to see them, they’re here
As well as this, her family was struggling to pay for her funeral, so the Sunday People contributed. We live in a country where we can pay £10 million pounds for the funeral of a woman who called Nelson Mandela a terrorist, but someone’s grandmother kills herself because she can’t afford to live in the house she’d lived in for 18 years. I hope everyone feels thoroughly disgusted.
The worst thing is, Stephanie’s story has a more extreme ending, but it’s fairly typical of a bedroom tax victim case. Although the tory’s policies targeted towards those on benefits claim to help to push people into work, and end a ‘something for nothing’ benefits system (and the whole thing reeks of deserving and undeserving poor) this is not the case at all.
Take a guess at what percentage of the people receiving benefit in the UK are unemployed. Guess. I was way, way out. The actual breakdown is this 42.3% elderly, 20.8% low income, 18.4% families, 15.5% sick/disabled, 2.6% unemployed. Only 2.6% of those on benefits in this country are unemployed.
In addition to this, the people most likely to have spare bedrooms are older people, who’s children have left home. They are not people living off the tax payer, whatever that means, they are people who have lived their lives in cheap rental property who’s children have left home, and so rely on their friends, like my Nana does, for company. And David Cameron and his tory cronies want to move these people away from their communities, their friends, the brick and mortar they’ve made their home, because they have the cheek to have a couple of spare bedrooms.
I hope you’re angry, because I’m really fucking angry.
You know who has got spare bedrooms? David Cameron, who got lucky enough to be born to a millionaire and the daughter of a Baronet, and his wife Samantha who’s father is also a Baronet. His personal wealth has been estimated at £30 million, inherited from off-shore tax havens. Like I said earlier, the UK loses £5.2 Billion a year from men like Cameron. To misquote Obama, Cameron’s not the solution, he’s the problem.
Meanwhile, more people like Stephanie Botrill, hounded from the home she’d raised her children in, and the community where all her friends live, will probably walk in front of lorries.
To cut a long story short, if you even think about voting Tory in 2015, I hope you think about Stephanie Botrill, and I hope you never sleep again.