Cancer patient being forced out of home by 'unfair' bedroom tax
A MAN with incurable cancer fears he will have to leave his home of 23 years because he can't afford the Government's "bedroom tax".
Grandfather George Keen is one of thousands who will be hit by plans to reduce housing benefit for people with spare bedrooms when it comes into effect in April.
The 59-year-old will end up forfeiting £100 a month, even though his wife Pauline sleeps in one of the rooms considered spare at their three-bedroomed rented home in Northside Walk, Arnold.
"With having the cancer I have enough on my plate without having to find money for this bedroom tax," said Mr Keen.
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He was diagnosed with bowel cancer last year which can't be treated due to a string of other serious illnesses. He also attends Hayward House hospice, at the City Hospital.
"I have had a triple heart bypass, four heart attacks, diabetes, hypertension, depression, a degenerative spine, sleep apnoea and was then diagnosed with bowel cancer last March," he said.
"My wife has to sleep in a separate bedroom because I am on an oxygen machine overnight that makes a noise while it pumps, so it keeps her awake.
"But they don't accept that and say we have two extra bedrooms," said Mr Keen, who rents the property from a housing association.
"That's my disability living allowance gone – it will be a big chunk out of it."
He fears the changes will force him out of the home where his two children were raised.
"There is no way I can afford the extra money. I have asked for an exchange for a two-bedroomed property, but they are few and far between."
The benefit changes are adding to anxiety of cancer patients – already struggling on low incomes and basic benefits – according to Chris Bissett, the benefits adviser at Maggie's cancer support centre, based at the City Hospital. Mr Bissett, who has spoken to several patients in the same position, said: "The proposal has the double worry for many who are worried about making the choice between finding the extra amount to make up the benefit shortfall or face the prospect of moving to more affordable accommodation with all the accompanying inconvenience, worry and stress this will inevitably entail.
"Ill and disabled people have added concerns, such as possibly having to register with new doctors and also moving away from established networks of support such as family and friends."
The Government is imposing the tax to encourage tenants to downsize and cut housing waiting lists.