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Sunday, 12 May 2013

RIP to Stephanie Bottrill A victim of the cruel bedroom tax

Sad news today of Stephanie Bottrill 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.” Stephanie was tormented over having to find £20 a week to pay for the two under-occupied bedrooms she had been assessed for. Days before her death she told neighbours: “I can’t afford to live any more.” Solihull council Labour group leader David Jamieson, who knows the family well, said: “I’m absolutely appalled this poor lady has taken her own life because she was worried how she would pay the Bedroom Tax. “I hope the Government will take notice and reconsider this policy.” Steven Bottrill The police came to Steven’s door at 9.30 last Saturday morning. They were there with his sister Laura, 23, and he knew something terrible had happened. They told him his mum had taken her own life. He said: “It was a shock at first. You just ask why? The policeman told me she had left notes. I was on my own, looking after my little boy. “I just wanted to keep looking after him, to keep it all in. I told the police to keep the note. I was still getting my head round it.” So it was not until Sunday that Steven was ready to read the note. He said: “I couldn’t believe it. She said not to blame ourselves, it was the Government and what they were doing that caused her to do it. “She was fine before this Bedroom Tax. It was dreamt up in London, by people in offices and big houses. “They have no idea the effect it has on people like my mum.” On the Thursday before she died – when she wrote the farewell letters – Stephanie had phoned her son to say she was struggling to cope. He promised to get help and next day phoned her GP. Stephanie came home from the GP’s surgery with sleeping tablets. That Friday teatime, Steven came to see her after he finished work. He tried to reassure her, telling her everything would be OK. He says now he should have hugged her but he thought it might upset her. Stephanie had lived in her £320-a-month home for 18 years, but couldn’t cope with the extra £80 she had to find every month. She needed to downsize but nothing suitable was offered to her. And she was upset she would have to leave the home in which she raised her two children as a single mother. The well-kept back garden was Stephanie’s pride and joy. She had buried her favourite pet cats there and she liked to sit out there in the sun and remember them. Steven remembers they didn’t have much as they grew up. His mum would struggle to afford clothes and food but they were happy and always well-turned out. This shocking incident brins it home to you that the so called tough decisions politicians of all stripes claim to take has actual devastating effects on the people they have no connection with. The mirror does quote a labour cllr who could do more in my view by pledging to not evict tenants who can’t pay and reclassifying properties if they wanted to. Ed Miliband has already said labour will not reverse the bedroom tax so we cannot trust them either. All this adds to the fact that these cuts are hitting the worst off and are actually killing people in some cases. While no doubt the Tories will claim this is not linked the pressure and hardship put on Stephanie was too much for a person like that. No one should suffer for a crisis they did not cause. with extracts from todays daily mirror

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