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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One Comment »

  • nongenderbias9 says:

    Hi

    The statement that you are a non-resident father is a misnomer. If the children stay over at your place then they are resident with their father. The fact that your former partner will be receiving all the benefits to care for your children is an inequality our laws have failed to address adequately. Your responsibilities financially and in childcare are no more or less than what they should be for any families who still live together. The only anomaly here is the fact that the law and all it’s agencies choose to treat you differently based on your gender. Ethically and morally your former partner has no more right to a 2 bedroom flat than you do. Easier said than done, but if it was me I would take the two bedroom flat just around the corner and then come to a better financial arrangement with your ex that facilitates this. If bedroom tax is the issue then, in the interests of your relations with your daughters your ex should be stumping up with half the money.
    You talk about “contact arrangements”. I find the use of the word “contact” to be offensive in this context. You are their father and a very important person, always. These days it is best to talk about “family arrangements” rather than “contact” which is belittling to yourself and demeaning to all marginalised parents. If this were me and I were unemployed then I would expect to have my children with me at least 50% of the time. If I were working then this might not be so practicable but I’d say three nights per week minimum. I need to keep pace with my children and their friends otherwise I find myself, “parenting by text” which isn’t the best way to bring up my children. Good luck and hope you maintain a good parenting relationship with your ex.

    Kind regards

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