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‘Attack on poorest’

Unite slams bedroom tax blunder
Ryan Fletcher, Friday, August 5th, 2016

The devastated father of a teenage boy who was killed in a head-on collision has spoken out after being cruelly charged the bedroom tax on his dead son’s room.


Grieving Terry Fannon, from Tameside in Manchester, was penalised after his eighteen-year-old son, Thomas Hodson Fannon, died after his motorcycle was hit by quad bike rider Sam Edge, 20, last October.


Shortly after his son’s death Mr Fannon’s housing benefit was sanctioned – despite a department of work pension (DWP) ruling that bereaved families should have a year before the hated tax is imposed.


The heartless breach only came to light during Edge’s sentencing hearing for causing death by dangerous driving last week.


Mr Fannon, 44, told the Manchester Evening News, “They knew my son was dead. I got a letter days after about the bedroom tax. I was in a trance afterwards I didn’t question it for a while.


“I feel sick. The room is still Tom’s, I’ve not changed it. But they said I had an extra room, it is just an extra worry. I can’t leave this house, I never can, it was Tom’s home and it’s all I have left of him.”


Tom’s aunt, Julie Fannon, told the paper she was “disgusted” that her brother was sanctioned.


She said, “They just don’t care, they just want the money. Tom’s death is killing my brother, and this was just an extra worry.”


Although the department of work pensions (DWP) set the rules for the bedroom tax, which was introduced in 2013 in an attempt to end what supporters call a ‘spare room subsidy’ for often vulnerable or disabled social housing tenants, it is left to local authorities to enforce it.


Following the court hearing a Tameside Council spokesperson admitted that “a change in the amount of housing benefit reduction was made in error. As soon as we became aware of this a correction was made. Housing benefit is now being paid at the correct rate.”


North West Unite Community organiser Sheila Coleman offered her condolences to Mr Fannon and said his story highlighted “the inhumanity of the current government.”


“Spare room subsidy?’ Let’s call it what it is; an attack on the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society,” Coleman said.


“Unite Community members voluntarily work to assist those subject to this cruel tax and campaign to abolish it. This legislation is contrary to equality and disability legislation and is, in our opinion, a human rights issue.”



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