'Bedroom tax' reaction: Council under pressure to review case of Stephen Pound's brother

Kidney-failure suffer Rivers Pound uses his second bedroom to store his dialysis machine

Welfare campaigners have joined with politicians to call for Kensington and Chelsea Council to act over the case of kidney-failure suffer Rivers Pound.

On Tuesday The Independent revealed that Mr Pound, 55, who is the brother of Labour MP Stephen Pound and has been suffering from kidney failure for 36 years, will have to find an extra £120 a month under inflexible rules of the under-occupancy policy known as the “bedroom tax”. This despite the fact that he uses his second bedroom to store his dialysis machine.

Fiona Loud of the British Kidney Patient Association said the organisation knows of up to a dozen similar cases: “This story is sadly not unique and the issues highlighted are a source of stress and worry for those on dialysis at home, and their families.”

She added: “Patients should not be disadvantaged by the requirement to pay a 'bedroom tax' for the room their life-saving equipment and supplies occupy.”

Labour's Rachel Reeve, the shadow work and pensions secretary told The Independent: “This shocking example shows just how unfair and discriminatory the bedroom tax really is, but sadly it's just one example out of the 400,000 disabled people affected by the Tories bedroom tax.”

Richard Stein, a Partner at law firm Leigh Day which is challenging the policy in the Court of Appeal, said, “Mr Pound is hit by the double whammy of being declared fit for work by Atos - even though he is unable to work and facing a massive bill because of the bedroom tax.

In a letter to The Independent, Nick Paget-Brown, leader of the Kensington and Chelsea Council, said: ”I must take issue with Stephen Pound's claim that there is 'no wriggle room' or 'any local ability to look at this humanely.'

TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady said: “This shocking case encapsulates everything that's cruel about the bedroom tax. It is causing huge amounts of stress and anxiety for those affected without addressing our housing shortage or saving taxpayers' money.

“While Mr Pound's situation silenced MPs in Westminster last week, the sad truth is that his story is not exceptional… It's not too late for the government to admit that whatever its original attentions, the bedroom tax is a deeply flawed policy that must stop before it causes any more needless suffering.”

Richard Stein, a Partner at law firm Leigh Day which is challenging the policy in the Court of Appeal, said, “Mr Pound is hit by the double whammy of being declared fit for work by Atos - even though he is unable to work and facing a massive bill because of the bedroom tax.

“He is hit by the double whammy of being declared fit for work by Atos - even though he is unable to work and facing a massive bill because of the bedroom tax.

A spokesman for the Council added, “On the face of it, anyone facing the circumstances described would be very likely to qualify for a discretionary housing payment. However, to-date, we have received no application from Mr Pound but we would encourage him to contact us.”

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pension said “Paying Housing Benefit for spare rooms is simply unaffordable, but we've been clear from the outset that we would support people who might find the changes difficult. This is why we've given councils £190m in extra funding this year, some of which has been specifically targeted at disabled people living in adapted homes.”

Mr Pound's case came as new figures showed 55,000 families were affected by the bedroom tax in the capital this August.

According to government figures analysed by the National Housing Federation there were 869 households affected by the policy in Mr Pound's borough of Kensington and Chelsea, with each household losing an average of £1,065.68 a year. However was hardest hit Lambeth with 4,308 households affected and an average amount of £1,078.26.

National Housing Federation chief executive said, “The Government says discretionary housing payments will help those who cannot downsize, but there isn't anywhere near enough money to go round… the bedroom tax is trapping many people in homes they can no longer afford and where they are struggling to pay their rents. It is unfair, badly designed, and must be repealed.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exceptional opportunity has arisen for a pa...

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen and Bathroom Installers

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of designer kitch...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border