Why the bedroom tax is bad news: a dad writes

25 November 2013

DG* writes:

I’ve been a non-resident father for about 4 years now, and as difficult and upsetting as it’s been, the situation has been made easier by the fact that my ex-wife and I have maintained a positive relationship, and there’s never been an issue with me seeing my girls and having them come to stay with me.

When I first moved out of the borough I was lucky enough to secure a 2-bedroomed property, and so my weekly sleep-overs with the girls was never a problem as we all had a bed. In truth though, I always felt geographically isolated and always longed to move back to the borough we had all grown up in. In August this year I was fortunate enough to secure a council property in my daughters’ home-borough and I was given the option of a 2-bedroom flat in the girls’ hometown or a one-bedroom flat about 6 miles away. I understandably took the one-bedroom option as the bedroom tax meant it was the only one that was economically viable to me and, in hindsight, I regret and resent being forced to make this decision as it has had a detrimental effect on my precious contact arrangements with my children.

Previously, I have had my girls come to stay every weekend and they have turned my empty house into a home again. I have had a role, I have been Dad, and they have had security, routine and comfort. It’s not like that anymore. In the four months I have been there I have not had both girls stay with me together for a whole weekend as there’s just not the room to accommodate us all. I’ve either had them come individually and then be noticeably uncomfortable with being given my bed whilst I sleep on the living room floor, or they come together, spend the day with me, get settled and then are forced to leave at 8 o’clock because there’s nowhere for them to sleep. The upset that this unnecessary, enforced separation has on our priceless time together affects all of us, and the unit that we’ve always been now feels splintered. I hate being apart from my girls, and the bedroom tax situation just exacerbates the matter.

*DG is a father of two teenagers living in the West Midlands. He has asked to remain anonymous.

The Fatherhood Institute has called  for better support for disadvantaged fathers, including scrapping of the bedroom tax for separated dads. Read more.

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