'Bedroom tax' shock for family of Hayle's Caleb Hollow
A HAYLE family who tragically lost their son last year say they are in turmoil after being asked to pay the so-called 'bedroom tax' or face moving from their home.
Dawn Chapman, whose 11-year-old son Caleb Hollow died after being hit by a car while going to catch the school bus in December 2012, received a letter from Devon and Cornwall Housing (DCH) threatening court action should hundreds of pounds in rent not be paid.
Mrs Chapman and her husband Adam were also told that an under-occupancy penalty came into force in December, just days after the first anniversary of Caleb's death, cutting their housing benefit.
Under welfare reforms – the 'bedroom tax' – children under the age of 10 are required to share a room but Mrs Chapman argues that with Ashton, 5, and Eva, 2, still at home, their three-bedroom property is not under-occupied.
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"It's not as if the room is not being used anymore, Caleb was sharing with his younger brother.
"It's not my fault my son was hit by a car at the end of the road. This is why I'm trying to fight it, it's completely wrong."
She added: "I'm like a nervous wreck all the time. We are in turmoil, we have enough going on as it is. I'm anxious all the time. I don't know if people will start banging on my door."
Mrs Chapman only returned to work in August following Caleb's death and said she cannot understand where the bill for more than £600 has come from.
"We are just having to get on our feet after paying for the funeral, it is money we don't have."
The couple are desperate to keep their Kernick Way property which has been the family home since it was built in the Sixties.
"This was my nan's house, my parents started off in this house and I grew up on this estate. No one else has lived in this house since it was built. My family are devastated.
"The kids have gone through enough, this is our family home. All the memories of their brother are here," said Mrs Chapman.
The family have asked local councillors to help.
A spokesperson for DCH confirmed that the family's housing benefit had been reduced by nearly £13 a week, but said they could not comment on the extra bill due to confidentiality.
They added: "We understand Mrs Chapman's concerns and are committed to assisting all of our residents who are affected by implementation of the Government's welfare reforms.
"Our teams have been in contact with Mrs Chapman to provide advice on how to apply to Cornwall Council for a discretionary housing payment and we will continue to work with the family to explore a longer-term solution that is acceptable to them."
MP for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, George Eustice, said that the council should help the family.
He added: "I have a huge amount of sympathy with Caleb's family who have experienced such a terrible loss.
" I know that Cornwall Council does offer discretionary housing payments for those who are struggling and clearly a case such as this would warrant that help."