First Suicide Due To Bedroom Tax Reported

Discussion in 'U.K.' started by Mr. Frankenstein, May 12, 2013.

  1. Mr. Frankenstein

    Mr. Frankenstein Sunderland

    Reposted from The Void

    This Is What Austerity Looks Like – First Suicide Due To Bedroom Tax Reported

    The welfare reform death toll has risen by one more tragic victim the Sunday People is reporting. The papers says:

    Ten days ago Stephanie Bottrill sat in the redbrick terrace house which had been home for 18 years to write notes to her loved ones, the Sunday People reports .

    She ripped the pages from a spiral-bound notebook and placed them neatly in little brown envelopes.

    There was one for her son. Another for her daughter. Her mother. Friends. And a very special one for the year-old grandson she doted on.

    Then in the early hours of last Saturday Stephanie, 53, left her home for the last time, leaving her cat Joey behind as the front-door clicked shut.

    She crossed her road in Meriden Drive, Solihull, to drop one of her letters and her house keys through a neighbour’s letterbox. Then she walked 15 minutes through the sleeping estate to Junction 4 of the M6.

    And at 6.15am she walked straight into the path of a northbound lorry and was killed instantly. Stephanie Bottrill had become the first known suicide victim of the hated Bedroom Tax.

    In the letter to her son, Steven, 27, she had written: “Don’t blame yourself for me ending my life. The only people to blame are the Government.”

    This is what happens when people are left with nothing at all, something the millionaire scum in Government will never understand. Money runs out for most of us, and very quickly if you are on benefits. It’s hard to even think about anything else if you have no money. If it goes on for days, or weeks or longer it can be torture. Even before welfare reforms the benefits system was not generous. It did contain some strange anomalies, usually down to the huge cost of renting in some parts of the UK, but people on benefits were already living in dire poverty. It was landlords living it up, not claimants. Yet a handful of unusual cases – often large homeless families in expensive, emergency housing – have been presented as the norm and used as cover to slash social security even further.

    When you take away money from people in already in poverty it drives them to destitution. Desperate people do desperate things. Yes there will always be a complex combination of factors in tragic deaths such as these. But homelessness, hunger and despair are not trivial matters that can be cleared up with a bit of counselling or a work related activity meeting with some welfare-to-work poverty pimp. They don’t go away – not without money. So whilst Iain Duncan Smith hands out billions to Atos, A4e and his friends in the private sector remember Stephanie Bottrill. She didn’t need incentivising, assessing, motivating to find those ‘hidden vacancies’ or any other bullshit. She was too ill to work, and there aren’t any vacancies, hidden or otherwise in many parts of the UK.

    She needed twenty quid a week because she was poor and couldn’t pay her rent and was going to lose her home. What little she had in this world, this Government took away, and now she is dead. And she was someone’s mum. The price of her life was just half of what Iain Duncan Smith spends on breakfast in a day, let alone a week.
  2. Mr. Frankenstein

    Mr. Frankenstein Sunderland

    Reposted from The Void

    When a stock-broker throws themselves out of a window due to financial pressures it is presumed – by the right wing press at least, if not the rest of us – to be a tragedy.

    Yet when the same events occur in the lives of someone not just working class, but on benefits, the reaction of some is to immediately start a hunt for character or lifestyle flaws in the recently deceased. “She can’t have been poor, she had a cat” was the astonishing reaction of one person on twitter to news of the suicide of a grandmother driven to the desperate act by the bedroom tax. It can’t be long before right wing cheerleaders of welfare reform join the bandwagon, no doubt to be led by yet more crass utterances from Tory Ministers. After all Iain Duncan Smith said he could live on £53 a week, so what was her problem?

    Stephanie Bottrill is not the first death directly attributable to welfare reform and it won’t be the last. This will not stop the vile scramble from pieces of shit like Brendan O Niell to declare she must have had mental health conditions, she should have done this, there must have been other factors involved or that she should have sold her fucking cat. They will look for anything which might deflect from the all too real and predictable consequences of the war against the poor which they themselves are partly involved in waging.

    None in the right wing press would dare speak like this if someone rich committed suicide over money problems. And for those lucky enoughto have never been on the breadline, then imagine the biggest money problem you’ve ever had and times it by a thousand and you’re still nowhere near what Stephanie Bottrill was facing.

    Politicians have said that people should just move if they can’t pay the bedroom tax as if this is the easiest thing in the world for those with nothing. Yet there are no smaller social housing properties for people to move into. People are being expected to leave what they thought was a lifetime tenancy – and a home they may have lived in for decades – to rent in the more expensive private sector where they can be evicted on the whims of a landlord with just two months notice.

    Not only that, but people are to be expected to do this at a vulnerable time. Shortly after their children have left home, or when a relationship has ended. Not even the death of a child will spare the eviction notices, they are simply delayed for 12 months, the ‘official’ period of grieving that parents are permitted before the bailiffs step in if they can no longer pay for their dead child’s bedroom.

    But it is not just the loss of a home those affected by the bedroom tax must face but the near impossibilities involved in securing a new one. Almost all letting agents have bold notices declaring NO DSS on every property they advertise. Increasingly agents ask for fees which claimants can’t afford, or credit checks that some claimants will fail. Huge deposits are required along with anything from 4 to 8 weeks rent in advance. Only an ever shrinking number of properties are affordable to those on housing benefits and in some parts of the UK none at all. People are not just expected to lose their homes, but in some cases will be forced to relocate, hundreds of miles away from family and friends. Even the act of moving costs a lot of money, and few claimants can afford to run a car or rent a van.

    This combination of stress, sadness or despair along with seemingly inescapable practical problems is why people end up on the streets. It’s why some people find themselves sat on the pavement amongst their belongings after bailiffs have ransacked and locked them out of their former homes. That is a money problem, not having to sell the second home or losing a chunk of your investment portfolio.

    Yet when someone rich has their finances affected by government policy then the whole fucking world has to stop and listen as their whinging dominates the debate over government cuts. The Tories were far more terrified of cutting child benefit for those earning large salaries than they were of cutting in half the incomes of people like Stephanie Bottrill. Whilst the super rich are given taxed cuts and the middle classes gently squeezed, the lives of those with least are being quietly demolished. If we really are all in it together then why are only the poor being expected to give up their homes?
  3. Sig

    Sig Senior Member

    Seriously? Suicide? Fucking weakling.
  4. LetLovinTakeHold

    LetLovinTakeHold Cuz it will if you let it

    When it comes to suicide, I have no sympathies for anyone but the family and friends of the one who took the cowardly way out. Especially when they play the blame game. No one took her life but herself. Pointing fingers at the government is only an attempt to pass guilt, regardless of any wrongdoing or unfairness.
  5. Mr. Frankenstein

    Mr. Frankenstein Sunderland

    Ah - the voice or Redneck America. Only the strong have the right to survive, right ? American foreign policy in a nutshell.

    Which is fine if you are the strong (or think you are).

    British government policy seems increasingly to be aimed at pushing people over the edge. This - suicide - is likely to be a growing trend. Can you imagine what it must be like to reach the point where it seems the best option ?

    Of course you cant. But then, you're strong, aren't you. Lucky you.
  6. Karen_J

    Karen_J Visitor

    Troll post.
  7. Sig

    Sig Senior Member

  8. Fairlight

    Fairlight Banned

    Americans and Brits have such different attitudes towards social welfare,I find...I'm a Brit by the way,and fully support a good welfare system.
  9. LetLovinTakeHold

    LetLovinTakeHold Cuz it will if you let it

    My post didn't have anything to do with my stance on welfare. It has to do with someone taking the easy way out. If you show me someone doing everything they can possibly do to get by and are still struggling, it would be a more powerful argument for better welfare.
  10. Fairlight

    Fairlight Banned

    Suicide isn't an easy way out.It's fucking hard.Contemporary society doesn't value life much anyway.Probably why so many kill themselves.
  11. LetLovinTakeHold

    LetLovinTakeHold Cuz it will if you let it

    K, just replace "easy" with "cowardly" or "selfish."

    I've seen first hand the devastation that suicide leaves behind. It's a tragic, and very difficult thing to see happen to a loved one. Life can be a bitch. But no matter how bad, ending it only spreads the misery around. They end their own pain and pass it to others.

    I know by posting my feelings I'm derailing the thread, so I'll just leave it at that.
  12. Karen_J

    Karen_J Visitor

    I find it hard to believe that you've given a lot of thought to the details of UK domestic policy.

    Apparently, this tax that most Americans have never heard of is a big problem over there. I'm sure there is a long story behind it, and it's really none of our business.
  13. Sig

    Sig Senior Member

    I don't know why. I do my best to keep abreast as UK domestic policy, seeing as it is the home of my ancestors. I am nerdy like that.

    That said, I don't know what your post has to do with me thinking someone who committed suicide is a weakling. To me, this woman took the cowards way out and is deserving of little to no sympathy. Not that the OP was looking for sympathy on behalf of this woman. No, quite the opposite, he is exploiting her death to make a political point. But I am the troll....

    On top of that, I don't think your reaction to my post was in any way fair. I always thought you to be better than that.
  14. Karen_J

    Karen_J Visitor

    ...and UK partisan politics, and economics, and real estate? That would take a lot of effort.

    Something is preventing normal free market forces from balancing the supply and demand of housing there, at market prices. I'm curious now as to how they got in this mess. Maybe Mr. F. will explain it tomorrow.

    The thread isn't really about the woman. Clearly, the OP was making the point that this particular tax is a huge deal to some people. I believe it.

    We simply disagree. I saw what looked like a thread derailment to me.

    I'm also aware that Americans have the reputation for too often acting like we know everything about everything, and always have every right answer, instead of listening and asking questions. I'm sensitive to that.
  15. Sig

    Sig Senior Member

    It is a bitch, I readily admit. I'm sure Mr. F will explain, in his blatantly partisan way. Simply put, the Bedroom Tax includes what's called an under-occupancy penalty. This penalty reduces the amounts of government assistance one receives if their rented property is deemed to be too large for their needs.

    Mr. F made this thread as much.about the woman as the tax when he attempted to exploit her death, however cowardly that death was.

    Again, I believe your reaction unfair and unwarranted. Yes, I can tell you're sensitive to that. That said, I thought you knew me better.
  16. Karen_J

    Karen_J Visitor

    Of course he will present it from his own point of view. That's what people do.

    There has to be something strange (from an American point of view) going on for that degree of government intervention to seem necessary to anyone. I've never heard of that problem here. Housing space never completely runs out except in large Northeastern cities, but there are commuter trains available. The free market always works these things out.

    I'll see to it that you get the internet equivalent of a purple heart. ;) You'll survive.
  17. Sig

    Sig Senior Member

    Promise? Lol
  18. Karen_J

    Karen_J Visitor

  19. Mr. Frankenstein

    Mr. Frankenstein Sunderland

    Firstly, the posts were re-posts from The Void, and are labelled as such, with links. So not my words, although I agree with them.

    If you want to really get some idea of what life is really like for those at the bottom of the pile in the UK nowadays, its well worth checking this blog out... read the comments at the end of the posts too.

    This is what life is like for an increasing amount of people, myself included. If you dont live in the UK and haven't been sucked into what is an increasingly bizarre and unfair system, you really wont get it.

    The so-called bedroom tax is just one of a whole raft of so-called benefit reforms, which mainly seem to be ill thought out. The claim is that its to encourage people with "more rooms than they need" (although how do you define what room someone needs ?) to move to smaller properties, thus freeing up the larger properties for larger families.

    Sounds reasonable (putting aside the issue of whether someone may have lived there most of their lives, like the neighbourhood, neighbours, and just not want to move, etc) ?

    Maybe - but the glitch in the plan, which none of the idiots who thought up this plan considered, is the fact that there just aren't anywhere enough smaller properties for the people being downsized to move to.

    Hence they have to stay put and, if existing on minimal benefits already, have to pay an extra chunk out for the privilige - even if they're quite happy to downsize.

    Of course, you could move into the private sector... but of course you cant, because private landlords are exploiting the situation with high rents and worse - starting to evict poorer tenants and those under 35.

    Under 35's being evicted ? Yep - another twist of government policy. They may not have intended it, but its what's happening.

    Read about it here -

    Almost all landlords quoted say they are planning to evict claimants under 35, with some going even further and suggesting they will not rent to anyone from this age group: “We’re not housing under 35s now, so long term it will resolve itself because we’re not putting anyone in under 35. But we’ve got this 15, 20 people who are going to be on the street.”

    This comment is backed up by a housing advice worker later in the report who says: “a lot of existing agents and landlords have told me they’ve now served notice on every tenant they have under 35. Even those tenants who might be in work at the moment, a lot of landlords have thought if they lose their job they won’t be able to pay the rent.”

    Many landlords fear that tenants under 35 will face homelessness as a result of the drastic cuts: “[They’ll end up] on the streets, they’ve got nowhere to go. These people haven’t got no funds.”

    Again, not my words, although I agree with them.

    So welcome to the UK, soon to be homelessness capital of the world. Royal weddings, Olympics, golden jubilees, political state funerals...yes, we can afford all these, but welfare ? Dont be silly...

    Sig, this is what is really happening, right now. It may not have filtered through to Hip Forums readers yet... but its happening right now and its getting worse.

    And there will be more suicides, because a lot of people just wont be able to cope. But I'm sure they wont be doing it just to offend your sensibilities.
  20. Mr. Frankenstein

    Mr. Frankenstein Sunderland

    Bedroom tax: Samaritans called in to train housing staff as levy sparks suicide attempts

    Housing chiefs are calling in Samaritans as the Bedroom Tax pushes more tenants to the brink – one association even reports a client attempted suicide during a phone call.

    Teams of suicide prevention experts from the emotional support charity are training staff at housing groups around the country – and demand for sessions has shot up 48 per cent in the past three months.

    At the Riverside Housing Association in Liverpool, 60 call-centre staff have been trained since the Bedroom Tax was introduced in April and by the end of the month the remaining 40 call handlers will be trained to spot suicide risks.

    Riverside’s Anna Bishop said: “We had one person who cut their wrists while on the phone to us.

    “Someone else said they wanted to cancel some repairs and they were going for a swim and intended to keep swimming because it didn’t hurt once the lungs fill up with water.”

    In both cases the Samaritan-trained adviser called the police and the *callers’ lives were saved.

    Riverside looks after 53,000 homes and takes 40,000 calls a month.

    And the number of distressed callers due to rent arrears has risen from 11 per cent in April to 14.5 per cent. Suicidal calls are now coming in at the rate of three a week. Ms Bishop added: “We’ve seen a big increase in people with suicidal thoughts since the Bedroom Tax was introduced.

    “People are getting into arrears and that’s down to the welfare reforms. It is a contributory factor.”

    The association took over much of the city’s post-war council housing.

    But Ms Bishop added: “We’ve got thousands of three-bed properties, but no one-beds in those areas.

    “People should be allowed one spare bedroom and only be taxed if they have more.”

    South Liverpool Homes also called in Samaritans after a tenant attempted suicide and another resident committed suicide because of financial hardship.

    SLH’s Claire Ryan said: “We were able to respond to the attempt and support that person. We moved them to a smaller property which removed the impact of the Bedroom Tax.”

    In the first month of the tax on Merseyside, more than 14,000 people fell into arrears – 6,000 of them for the first time.

    And nationally, at least 660,000 of society’s most vulnerable families have been hammered by the under-occupation penalty with tenants forced to make up 14 per cent of their rent for one extra bedroom and 25 per cent for two.

    In May the Sunday People told how gran Stephanie Bottrill, 53, from Solihull, West Midlands threw herself under a lorry on the M6. Neighbours said she was desperate over demands for £20 a week extra to pay for two unoccupied bedrooms.

    But suitable alternatives are just not available. In Oldham, Lancs, councillor David Hibbert said he had stopped the council building one-bed homes when he was in charge of housing 30 years ago because no one wanted them.

    “But now there are 6,000 applications for them,” he said.

    “Desperate people have been calling housing call centres for help. And one operator spent an hour and a half trying to persuade someone not to commit suicide.

    Gill Payne of the National Housing Federation said: “The Bedroom Tax is hurting the most vulnerable people. Housing associations have to ask the Samaritans to give their staff training to deal with increasingly *desperate people.”

    The Samaritans say they have *requests from housing associations all over the country for training.

    The Samaritans’ Guy Roberts said: “We are happy to provide them. Anyone likely to deal with people who are upset has a duty of care.”

    He said that before the recession began in 2008 one in 10 calls mentioned financial problems as a reason for despair. Now one in six do.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice