Reposted from The Mirror on line
This shocking picture exposes the brutal reality of David Cameron’s Bedroom Tax – a severely disabled man forced to bathe in a paddling pool in his living room.
The Sunday People is today publishing the photograph at the request of the family of Rob Tomlinson after he was driven out of his specially adapted home by the hated Tory tax.
For years Rob, 48, happily used a purpose-built walk-in shower at a four-bedroom house specially converted for him and his caring relatives by the local council.
But after Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith imposed the Bedroom Tax, Rob’s family fell into debt as they struggled to pay the cost of being penalised for two spare rooms.
They were forced to move and ended up in a privately rented bungalow with no bathroom facilities for the severely disabled.
There, Rob had to regularly endure the humiliation of being washed in a paddling pool in scenes reminiscent of the Third World rather than one of the richest nations on the planet.
His devoted brother Gary, 47, who with his partner Joan are Rob’s full-time carers, said: “We had to fill the pool with a hosepipe. Then I would have to lift Rob in. I would use buckets to wash him.
“It was easier when I was younger. As I got older it was hard work.
“This is a disabled man. There was no dignity in it for him or us.
“The Bedroom Tax is unfair. There are thousands of disabled people who have suffered because of it.
“But all Iain Duncan Smith does is sit in Parliament, smug and laughing and claiming his expenses.”
And in a final insult, their old home is now occupied by an elderly couple who are exempt from the tax while Rob and his family have been forced to move THREE times.
Rob suffers from cerebral palsy, epilepsy, double incontinence and has a mental age of four.
He lived in his family’s four-bedroom home for 24 years and the local council spent £70,000 adapting it.
Since the death of his mum Betty aged just 49 from cancer in 1995, Rob has been cared for by Gary and Joan. Each had a daughter from previous relationships who also lived in the house in Bootle, Merseyside.
In 2000 the council built an extension, providing a fourth bedroom, a shower room, an extended kitchen, overhead hoists and ceiling straps, plus patio door access to the garden.
Gary said: “It was fantastic. They built the house around Rob – everything he could have needed.”
When the couple’s girls grew older they moved out.
Then in early 2013 Gary and Joan received a letter from their housing association, One Vision.
It revealed that the tax – a cut in housing benefit for council and housing association tenants if they are deemed to have spare bedrooms – was being introduced and their property was “under-occupied” by two bedrooms.
Gary said: “At first I thought it wouldn’t affect us because the house had been specially built for Rob’s needs. Plus where else could they put us that was suitable?”
They filled in forms asking for “discretionary measures for people with special requirements” but were shocked when they were turned down.
Gary said: “We were told we would have to pay £24.60 a week. We didn’t need four bedrooms but we did need something suitable for Rob. But we were told, that doesn’t matter, you still have to pay.”
They were told One Vision didn’t have a suitable adapted property.
The couple then received a “notice to seek intention to evict” as they were in arrears of over £300 because of the tax.
Joan said: “It scared the life out of us. We started looking at the private sector but the problem there is that in private properties we couldn’t make the changes needed for Rob.”
They moved to a private bungalow in Southport, Merseyside, in December 2013 but Rob was hit with pneumonia.
Two days after he was well enough to leave hospital, the bungalow owner died and her children decided to sell.
In March last year Rob’s family moved to yet another place but this didn’t have a suitable bathroom and they had to use the paddling pool.
Last September NHS staff came to assess Rob after Gary applied for CHC (continuing health care) funding. He said: “This is meant to transfer Rob’s care from social services to the NHS and he ticked every box.
“But they told us we had to stop lifting him because if there was an accident we would be liable.
“After that we had to give him bed baths. It was pretty awful. He started getting bed sores.”
In desperation the family turned to their local MP John Pugh.
Mr Pugh told One Vision: “It is clear that Robert has not only lost his quality of life but also the basic human right of a decent home.”
In March this year they got a new bungalow with a suitable bathroom. But Rob’s bedroom is tiny and he has hardly any view.
As a result of the NHS assessment, Rob will get home nursing care several times a week.
But Gary said: “It has taken two years of misery to get to this point.
“To make it worse, a few months after we left our adapted house we were told we shouldn’t have had to go. Rob did meet the criteria to stay where he was.
“We’ve since found out an old couple have moved into the house and they’re only using one bedroom.
“If you’re over 65 you are exempt from the tax. It’s not their fault, but it shows how wrong it is.”
One Vision said: “In a bid to reduce the impact of welfare reform we have increased our benefits advice.”
A spokesman for Sefton Council, which oversees Bootle, said: “We cannot comment on any individual case.”
A DWP spokesman said: “We have provided nearly £500million to local councils to support vulnerable people through the changes.
“They can make discretionary payments for people to stay in their accommodation.”