Welfare Reform act could have unintended consequences

A husband and full-time carer fears he may have to cut back on essentials as he fights a benefits system which thinks he has a spare bedroom.

Over the last 14 years Anne Sharman, 57 from Towcester, has suffered two brains haemorrhages which have left her unable to walk or talk

After her second haemorrhage in 2006 Tony Sharman, 61, was given the option of quitting his refuse collection job to look after Anne, or put his wife into a care home. Mr Sharman chose to look after his wife himself and the main bedroom in the two bedroom bungalow is now filled with a specialist equipment including oxygen cylinders and a lifting harness.

He now sleeps in the room next door and listens for night time calls for help from his wife via a baby monitor.

However when the Welfare Reform Act comes into force in April Mr Sharman’s bedroom will be deemed a second bedroom and the couple will lose £60 a month in benefits.

Mr Sharman said: “We do struggle on what on we do get, to have another £60 taken out each month, I don’t know how we are going to do it, we’ll just have to get on with it, get in less food perhaps.”

Mr Sharman has been told he can still put his wife into a home, but he does not believe the tax payer should foot the £2,400 a month bill, for the sake of their £60.

A spokesman for South Northants Council said new Housing Benefit regulations do not let them make an exception and added: “The exceptions are quite restrictive and clearly laid down for us. SNC is keen to support Mr Sharman and we are looking for ways we can help Mr Sharman but unfortunately this is only a short term solution.”