Sunday, 12 May 2013

Solihull single mother commits suicide over 'bedroom tax". She could not afford to live!

Amid all the brouhaha about Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement and Michael Gove's call for a referendum on Britain's continuing membership of the European Community, the tragic suicide of 53-year-old Stephanie Bottril from Solihull, was squeezed into a three minute slot on Sky TV.

Last Saturday, Stephanie left her home on Meriden Drive - Solihull, where she had lived for the past eighteen years - and walked to Junction 4 of the M6 motorway, where she threw herself under a lorry. Before killing herself she told neighbour's that she "simply couldn't afford to live anymore" and posted her keys and a suicide note through a neighbour's door, blaming the government's 'bedroom tax' for her death. "I don't blame anyone for me death expect (sic) the government" she wrote.

Under 'bedroom tax' rules, Stephanie was facing a welfare cut in her housing benefit because she had two spare rooms and she could not afford the extra £20 per week she was required to pay in order to retain her home. She told neighbours that she was 'tortured' about how she could afford the extra £20 per week and knew that she would have leave the home she loved, after losing a quarter of her £320-a-month housing benefit when her 23-year-old daughter, left home to live with her partner. Shortly before her death, a neighbour had taken her some barbecue food because she had not eaten for three days.

Mrs Bottril suffered from an auto-immune system deficiency condition known as Myasthenia gravis, which impacted on her ability to work but she was not receiving disability benefit. In a letter to her 27-year-old son, Steven, she said:

"Don't blame yourself for me ending my life, it is my life, the only people to blame are the government."

Although Mrs Bottril had been offered another property, she felt this was unsuitable because of poor transport links and she felt this would have isolated her from her family. Following Stephanie's death, the family issued a statement. Her son Steven told the Sunday People:

"She was fine before this bedroom tax. It was dreamt up by people living in offices and big houses. They have no idea the effect it has on people like my mum."

At a time when this verminous Tory government are taxing poor people for having so-called spare bedrooms, they have cut taxes for the rich and corporation tax for their business chums. As from April, anyone earning over £1 million-a-year will get an annual tax cut of at least £42,295.00. Yet there has been a five-fold increase in food banks since this government came into power in May 2010. The Labour MP Luciana Berger, recently told Parliament that 350,000 people had accessed emergency food aid this year in Britain.

While the government pursues its billionaires agenda of less tax for the rich, less regulation for business, less spending by the State and no cap on bankers bonuses, children are going hungry in Manchester. It is estimated that 91,000 children are living in severe poverty throughout Greater Manchester.

In the local authority area of Tameside, which according to figures published by the trade union UNISON, is one of the hardest places to find work in the North West, the registered social landlord New Charter Housing Trust Ltd, has already started to send out letters to their tenants who are in arrears with their 'bedroom tax', threatening legal action. These 'recovery proceedings' are being made in spite of comments made by New Charter boss, Ian Munro, that the tax should 'axed' and that it is both 'unfair and incompetent'. The housing boss has also stated that the housing company is in no position to rehouse many of its tenants, who are being forced to downsize. It is estimated that two-thirds of people affected by the bedroom tax nationally, are disabled.

In Solihull, the council Labour group leader, David Jamieson, said he was 'appalled' by the death of Stephanie Bottril and he urged the government to reconsider its 'bedroom tax' policy. Figures released earlier this year, show that UK suicide rates have markedly increased since the Tory government came into office. Just how many suicides it will take, before this government scraps this vile and iniquitous tax, remains to be seen.

1 comment:

Henry Page said...

Please sign the petition that I have started calling for IDS to be sacked after the suicide of Stephanie Botrill, a disabled woman who threw herself under a lorry as she could not pay the bedroom tax nor find and alternative, smaller home. Please send the petition to your email/social network contact lists.