Iain Duncan Smith’s punishing new payments were the last straw for the tragic 53-year-old who killed herself to avoid plunging into further poverty
Unable to work because of a crippling illness, Stephanie Bottrill was already struggling to survive before the hated Bedroom Tax came in.
But Iain Duncan Smith’s punishing new payments were the last straw for the tragic 53-year-old who killed herself to avoid plunging into further poverty after being hit with an £80 a month bill for the two spare bedrooms in her council house.
And last night her distraught son Steven begged David Cameron to scrap the tax to stop anyone else being driven to suicide.
The 27-year-old spoke as an online petition calling for the Work and Pensions Secretary Mr Duncan Smith to go over Stephanie’s death gained thousands of signatures.
Steven said: “The man who can change things is David Cameron. I think my mum wanted to get it out there what happened.
“Hopefully now someone will listen. Someone will realise what has gone on and change things.
“They are all sitting in an office in London thinking of ideas how they can make money, but Mr Cameron has to give the seal of approval.
“They haven’t thought it through properly, how it will affect people. For my mum £80 a month is a huge amount of money but for people who are on huge salaries who have gone to Eton it is a different world.
“She was struggling already, it was a lot to ask for.”
Stephanie was so poor she used hot water bottles instead of her central heating. Steven added: “She couldn’t afford it. All the winter she didn’t have the heating on.
“She wrapped up warm, she had hot water bottles even when she was watching the telly.
“In 2013 in Britain you can’t imagine this. To live like that…”
The Sunday People yesterday told how desperate gran Stephanie threw herself in front of a speeding lorry over her dire financial plight.
She was hit with the £80 a month bedroom tax after Steven and his sister Laura, 23, both left home.
In her suicide note to her son, she wrote: “Don’t blame yourself for me ending my life. The only people to blame are the Government.”
Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls warned ministers were pushing struggling householders to the brink of despair with their attacks on the poor.
He said: “Two thirds of people affected by the bedroom tax are disabled. It’s not fair. This policy is driving people to the edge of despair in their many thousands. David Cameron, George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith should stand back from the rhetoric, which is always a little bit nasty and a little bit divisive, and say, ‘What are we actually doing?’ People are suffering terrible trauma.”
Stephanie, of Solihull, West Mids, had the auto-immune system deficiency Myasthenia gravis, an illness which weakens muscles. She was on constant medication.
Steven said his mum wanted to work, but could not. Doctors told her she was too ill but she was never registered as disabled, so had no disability benefit.
She had wanted to downsize her home but the council had nothing smaller available.
Steven added: “I last saw my mum the day before it happened. She had phoned me up crying and said she couldn’t go on there’s too much pressure. She was asked to find another £20 a week but she just didn’t have it. The system failed her at every stage.” Stephanie died in the early hours of May 4 on the M6.
She had visited neighbours before killing herself, telling them: “I can’t afford to live.”
One, Tracey Hurley, said: “She had gone round everybody giving them hugs. But what I didn’t know was that she had obviously been planning it.”
Tracey described Stephanie as “kind-hearted with a good soul”.
Mr Duncan Smith would not comment yesterday.