Lambeth bedroom tax victims are ‘depressed and considering suicide’, say Unite


The union states some have to choose between debt and starvation.


By Douglas Patient

Lambeth bedroom tax victims are considering suicide, according to the leader of Unite.

At a meeting at Lambeth Town Hall on Wednesday, Pilgrim Tucker expressed her belief that some people from the area are thinking of suicide because of the reform of the Housing Benefit.

“A choice between debt and starvation – some residents feel suicidal directly because of these measures,” she said.

The reform of the Housing Benefit, nicknamed the ‘bedroom tax’, came into force in April this year and has affected many within the borough.

Elizabeth Maytom, organiser of the Norwood and Brixton Foodbank, said that demand for services at the Foodbank has risen substantially in the last few months to around 200 people per week, between 3 and 4 tons of food a month – ‘a huge increase’.

She said that many users of the Foodbank had told her they were affected by the bedroom tax.

“They are very disturbed, down, low and depressed. They are not sure what to do next, thinking it’s another thing they have to pay,” she said.  

While Ms Maytom had heard people consider suicide over other benefit cuts, she had not been approached by anyone considering suicide as a direct result of the bedroom tax.

Lambeth residents shared their experiences at the meeting on Wednesday.

“Since this bedroom tax has started I am over 1000 pound in arrears,” stated one tenant.

“They are talking about evicting me.”

Another tenant spoke of how she is left with only £5 per week for food, transport and clothing.

Pete Robbins, Lambeth Cabinet member for Housing and Regeneration, refused to guarantee the council would not evict tenants.

“I cannot commit to a No Eviction policy,” he said, but added the council were providing practical support so that tenants will not find themselves in a position to be evicted.

Julian Hall, from Lambeth United Housing Co-op, said: “Lambeth’s eviction policy does not make sense on a human level, with evictions of a number of vulnerable people either threatened or pending.”

Photo courtesy of by Potatojunkie, with thanks.

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