Martyn, who is a wheelchair user, feels he is ‘living in limbo’ after finding out his housing benefit will be cut by 14%. He faces a choice between letting his carers go or downsizing to a new area – either of which would shatter his wellbeing and independence.
Martyn moved into his two-bedroom bungalow seven years ago. As he is paralysed from the chest down, it has had a number of major adaptations – including ramps, widened doorways, and a hi-tech bathroom – and the kitchen was next on the list. “Living here was the council’s idea – they said it was ‘future proofing’, so I’d have an extra room if I ever needed a live-in carer. I never thought bedroom tax would affect me – when I got the letter I couldn’t believe it.”
The idea of moving is unthinkable for Martyn. After his father died in 2011 he has relied on his sister and brother, who both live nearby, and his neighbours for support. “Moving away would be extremely difficult – there wouldn’t be anyone around to help me. Everyone knows me in the village, and I’ve got a life here – I have lunch with my brother, then go to the gym.”