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'Bedroom tax torture' for vulnerable mum with £2,000 debt in Partners for Improvement in Islington flat

PUBLISHED: 10:45 05 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:45 05 November 2019

Roberta Waite. Picture: Roberta Waite

Roberta Waite. Picture: Roberta Waite

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A mother says living in an overcrowded Upper Holloway flat while her debts rise due to the bedroom tax "feels like torture".

Stock image of protesters against the bedroom tax  outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Picture: Lewis Whyld/ PA ImagesStock image of protesters against the bedroom tax outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Picture: Lewis Whyld/ PA Images

The Department for Work and Pension's has considered Roberta Waite to have a spare room in her five-bed Marlborough Road flat since her daughter and grandchild moved out in 2017, despite the fact she still lives with her four sons.

The Welfare Reform Act - introduced under the Tory Lib-Dem coalition - means Roberta is taxed for under-occupation and the amount she pays towards her weekly rent of £287 rose from £16 to £40.

Roberta, who suffers from mental health problems so severe she's unable to work, has been pushed into £2,400 of rent arrears, because the bedroom tax deducts money from her benefits that would otherwise go on rent.

Roberta alleges her landlord Partners for Islington was "blocking" her attempts to move into a smaller flat due to her arrears and threatened her with eviction. Last month she took out a loan to clear her debt.

Stock image of a  protester at an Anti-Bedroom Tax rally. Picture: Andrew Milligan/ PA ImagesStock image of a protester at an Anti-Bedroom Tax rally. Picture: Andrew Milligan/ PA Images

In response to the Gazette's enquiry, Partners says it's now doing more to help the mother.

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Roberta said: "My daughter left home five years ago with her little boy. Before she left she was actually sleeping in a toddler bed here with her son so she could fit in.

"It's not a five bedroom, it may say it on paper but it's really two.

"Some of the rooms are tiny. One is actually separated down the middle with a window and the housing officer couldn't fit through the door.

"I would like to know how Partners get away with all this - it's just a complete shambles but they couldn't care less."

Robert, who has had mental health issues since she was a child, claims a woman with seven kids living in a three-bed unit came to look at her flat with a view to swap properties, but then said her place was bigger.

Roberta lives with her 10-year-old Logan who has separation anxiety, Riley, 14 who has anger management issues, Connor, 21, and her 24-year-old son Kieran, who has ADHD.

She added: "This has been like torture for four years."

A Partners spokesperson said: "Further steps have now been taken in order to assist Ms Waite with her current housing issue and we are currently working with Ms Waite and her family to resolve."

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