Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Coroner says reduction would have forced family from their home

Father killed himself after housing benefit cut

A father killed himself after his housing benefit was cut, an inquest heard on Tuesday.

Richard Sanderson, of Southfields, south west London, committed suicide after receiving a letter from Wandsworth Council informing him his housing benefit would be cut by £30 a month.

The 44-year-old was found dead in the bath by his wife Petra on 29 May with three stab wounds in the chest and abdomen, Westminster Coroner’s Court heard.

Wandsworth Council confirmed Mr Sanderson, who had a nine-year-old son, was renting from a private landlord and claiming local housing allowance.

Mr Sanderson’s death came a month after the government capped LHA at between £250 and £400 a week depending on property size. It is not clear whether the £30 cut was as a result of LHA caps.

A statement read on behalf of Mr Sanderson’s widow by Westminster coroner Fiona Wilcox, said: ‘We received a letter from the council saying our housing benefit would be cut by £30, forcing us to move but leaving us with nowhere to go.’

Suicide notes to his family were left on Mr Sanderson’s bed.

Recording a verdict of suicide, Ms Wilcox said: ‘He carried out a considered act in response to his inability to find employment and the fact that his housing benefit was about to be cut and the family would have faced having nowhere to live.’

Inside Housing has been calling for more equitable reform of housing benefit as part of its What’s the Benefit? campaign.

The Department for Work and Pensions declined to comment.

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