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Mum may be forced out of street named after her son who died at Hillsborough; bedroom tax.


A HILLSBOROUGH victim's mother could be forced out of the street that was named after her tragic son Carl... because she has kept his old room empty as a shrine to him.

Margaret Lewis has been told she must pay PS22 a week Bedroom Tax, which she can't afford.

But widow Margaret, 60, whose husband Michael died in 2009, says she will battle to stay in her home full of memories. "That room is one of the last things I have left to remind me of Carl," she said. "I feel safe and secure in there.

"I couldn't take a lodger in and let someone I don't know stay in his room. But if this goes through I will have to find ways of cutting costs as I am not leaving this house."

Her local council renamed her street Carl's Way in memory of the Liverpool fan, who died aged 18 in the 1989 stadium tragedy.

Much of his room has been preserved with the walls and carpets unchanged since the day Carl left to go to Liverpool's FA Cup semi-final with Nottingham Forest. Margaret, who lives alone and relies on incapacity benefits, frequently sleeps in there for comfort.

A Liverpool FC badge adorns one of the walls while a framed photo of the teenager sits next to a small statue of the Virgin Mary beside his bed.

Margaret has already cut down on food as she tries to afford the hated Tory tax. From tomorrow anyone on housing benefit will have their benefits cut by up to 25 per cent if their home is "underoccupied", with one or more spare bedrooms. Margaret has been told she will lose around PS22 a week from her benefits and will have to either make up the difference herself or move out.

She said: "I do not want to move. I have got too many memories in this house and this road. Having the street named after Carl makes me even more determined to stay." She still has painful memories of the day Carl went to Hillsborough with his younger brothers David and Michael, who survived. He had become a father just 11 months before.

Margaret was delighted when her son and the other 95 victims were cleared of any wrongdoing by the Hillsborough Independent Panel last September. But just a few months later a letter came through the door warning her she would have to find an extra PS100 a month or move.

She said: "When I found out, it was like that day all over again. It brought things flooding back and I felt as sick as a dog. What the Tories are doing is so unfair. All it is doing is hitting poor people."

STORM Margaret's landlord the Knowsley Housing Trust, told Inside Housing magazine it will work with her to help her move to a smaller property or increase her income.

The Bedroom Tax - part of the Welfare Reform Act - caused a storm of controversy after it was announced last March. Among hundreds of thousands of people affected by the change is a grandfather suffering chronic kidney disease who uses his spare room to store his dialysis machine.

Stephen Palmer, 49, stands to lose PS14 a week because he and his partner live in a two-bedroom home in Llanbradach, Caerphilly.

The tax will also hit spina bifida and cancer sufferer Libby Green, 57, who has two spare rooms. Her son lives next door so she does not want to move. Labour MP Frank Field has urged landlords to fight the tax by altering homes. He said: "I hope they brick up doors to spare bedrooms."


Margaret with street sign and (left) in Carl's room
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 31, 2013
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