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Bedroom tax suicide victim 'was hounded unlawfully'

Loophole in law means Stephanie Bottrill, who stepped under a lorry after DWP threats to cut her housing benefit, may have been unfairly sanctioned

A LABOUR MP in Scotland has urged bedroom tax victims to know their rights following revelations that a suicidal Birmingham woman had been hounded unlawfully.

Grandmother Stephanie Bottrill, 53, stepped in front of a lorry last May after penning a note to her son explaining that the Department for Work and Pensions planned to cut her housing benefit by £80 a month.

“Don’t blame yourself for me ending my life. The only people to blame are the government‚” she wrote.

But a previously overlooked loophole in the Con-Dems’ legislation meant tenants who had continuously claimed housing benefit since 1996 could not be targeted by officials.

Ms Bottrill had moved into her home in 1995 — and local authorities have since been told that around 4,000 unfairly sanctioned tenants across Britain are now owed an average £640 each in compensation to pay their rent.

North Ayrshire and Arran MP Katy Clark said she was still waiting on local figures to reveal how many of her own constituents were unlawfully sanctioned.

But Ms Clark urged anyone who suspected they were owed an exemption to contact their council immediately.

“It’s time that the whole welfare reform agenda was halted and reviewed,” she added.

Meanwhile Ms Bottrill’s son Steven said his mother’s death was “unforgivable.”

“The government are quick to chase you when they want cash but when it comes to helping you or giving you the right information, they don’t do it.

“These are strong words, but the government and Iain Duncan Smith have my mum’s blood on their hands,” he said.

rorym@peoples-press.com
@RoryMacKinnon

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