Liverpool disabled mum loses £1,000 bedroom tax appeal

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A disabled mum from Liverpool failed in her bid to claw back more than £1,000 in bedroom tax payments.
Dawn Blacoe, 55, was told she must pay the controversial levy on a small storage room at her West Derby home measuring just 57sq ft in size.
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She challenged Liverpool council’s ruling after being advised any room smaller than 71sq ft cannot legally be considered a bedroom.
But Ms Blacoe – backed by welfare rights campaign group ReClaim – lost her appeal and must continue paying the bedroom tax.
“I’m really annoyed,” the Liverpool Mutual Homes tenant said. “I’ll be heartbroken if I have to leave this house.”
Under the bedroom tax policy, housing benefit payments are cut if tenants are deemed to have spare rooms.
In Ms Blacoe’s case, her housing benefit was slashed by 14% in March 2013 after inspectors ruled her home had three bedrooms, even though only two are slept in while the third is used as a small storage area.
She stood to be repaid more than £1,000 if she had won her appeal at the social entitlement chamber in Liverpool – a special tribunal set up to settle benefits payment cases.
“I just don’t understand the decision,” Ms Blacoe said.
“I was told any room smaller than 71sq ft should be exempt from the bedroom tax, but different judges are all saying different things.
“The bedroom tax means I’ve been really struggling with my rent and my mum and dad are having to help me out.
“If it comes to it I may have to move, but I really don’t want to.”
Ms Blacoe – who lives with her 26-year-old son – suffers from nerve damage in her feet and anxiety issues. She receives employment and support allowance.
“It’s a tiny room,” she said.
“If you put a bed in there the door wouldn’t open.
“I just use it for storage and I’ve got an ironing board in there.”
Juliet Edgar, from ReClaim, said: “Judges are supposed to make decisions based on the facts of each case and the law, but different judges are coming to completely difference decisions.
“The bedroom tax is perverse.
“It puts at risk people’s sense of security while massive cuts are being made and the cost of living is going up.”
Ms Blacoe’s case will now be referred to a higher court in a bid to overturn the decision.
A ruling last year set a precedent that no room measuring under 71sq ft could be considered a bedroom, but there is still uncertainty because a bedroom has never been defined in law.
The ECHO recently reported on Christina Jenion, 41, a social housing tenant from Old Swan who was told to pay the bedroom tax on a 61sq ft room.

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