Bedroom tax 'drove gran to suicide'

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen: Stephanie Bottrill told neighbours she simply could not afford to live any more Stephanie Bottrill told neighbours she simply could not afford to live any more

A grandmother who killed herself left a note in which she blamed the Government for her death.

Just days before she died Stephanie Bottrill, 53, from in Solihull in the West Midlands, told neighbours she simply could not afford to live any more.

Her family told the Sunday People she was tortured about how she would afford the £20 extra a week for the two under-occupied bedrooms in her home - money she owed because of the Government's spare room subsidy policy, the so-called "bedroom tax".

Ms Bottrill died in the early hours of May 4 after she was struck by a lorry on the M6 motorway. In a letter to her son Steven, 27, she said: "Don't blame yourself for me ending my life. The only people to blame are the Government."

He told the newspaper: "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 the 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."

In the days before she died Ms Bottrill told her son she was struggling to cope, and told neighbours: "I can't afford to live any more." Ms Bottrill had already packed up the belongings in her house in Meriden Drive, the Sunday People said. Her son said she was distraught at having to leave the home she had lived in for 18 years, where she had raised two children as a single mother. He said: "She didn't want to go but she knew she had to. She couldn't afford to stay. It was too hard."

Ms Bottrill lived in her three-bedroom home on her own after her two children moved out, leaving her with a 25% reduction in her housing benefit for two rooms, the Sunday People said.

Solihull Council Labour group leader David Jamieson, who knows the family, told the newspaper: "I'm absolutely appalled this poor lady has taken her own life because she was worried about how she would pay the bedroom tax. I hope the Government will take notice and reconsider this policy."

Under the spare room subsidy policy, introduced last month, benefits will be deducted from social housing tenants of working age who are found to have more bedrooms than they need.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said: "There is no doubt this policy is driving people to the edge of despair in their many thousands across the country and I do think David Cameron, George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith should stand back from the rhetoric, which is always a little bit nasty and a little bit divisive, and say: what are we actually doing here? They're not going to save money with the bedroom tax - they're going to end up spending more on housing benefit, moving people into private rented housing - but in so doing they cause terrible stress, making it a lot worse for people on small amounts of money."

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