Family to be charged 650 a year by council for keeping seven-year-old daughter's bedroom as a shrine after she died of cancerAshes of Becky Bell have
been kept in her bedroom – left exactly as it was when she
lost her battle with brain cancer in January 2012Parents Julie and Mark have been told it is now a 'spare room'
and that they must pay 56 a month from AprilUnder new plans social housing tenants will face 'bedroom tax' if they are under-occupying their houses
But Becky's parents, Julie and Mark, were told the room at their home in Hartlepool was now classed as a 'spare' and that they must pay 56 a month from April.
Mrs Bell, 41, said: 'It doesn't bear to think about them calling it a spare room, it's Becky's room.
'It's not her fault she's not here anymore and to us she is still here.
'We don't want to be different to anyone else and some people may think a year is a long time but when you have been through what we have been through it isn't and we are still grieving.
'But the Government don't see that, they don't look at individual circumstances, all they see is the pound signs.'
Under the changes, both social housing tenants in employment and those in receipt of housing benefit will be affected by the bedroom tax if they are found to be under-occupying their homes.
From April households under-occupancy will see their benefits slashed by around 13 a week for one bedroom or 22 for two bedrooms.
Mrs Bell, who is currently out of work, and Mr Bell, 37, a part-time taxi driver are Housing Hartlepool tenants and receive around 40 a week in housing benefits.
With the introduction of the bedroom tax they will need to pay 672 a year for Becky's room.
Becky's parents visited their local MP Iain Wright to appeal for help.
Mr Wright described the circumstances as 'heartbreaking' and has sent a letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, expressing his dismay at the situation.
Mrs Bell, who is also a mother to Vicki, 24, and Mark, 12, added: 'It's not the money that's the issue.
'If we did have a spare room we would be more than happy to pay the money.
Becky with mother Julie while she was undergoing radiotherapy. Mrs Bell has been told the bedroom at their home in Hartlepool was now classed as a 'spare room' and that they must pay 56 a month from April
Becky, pictured in 2011 with Sunderland footballers Stephane Sessegnon, Michael Turner and David Vaughan. The seven year old's ashes have been kept in her room since she died last year
'But it's the fact that Becky's room is being called a spare room, that's what I can't get my head around.
Becky pictured while undergoing treatment. Under the changes, both social housing tenants in employment and those in receipt of housing benefit will be affected by the bedroom tax if they are found to be under-occupying their homes
'In our house we don't have a spare room, it's Becky's bedroom, everything is still there exactly how it was.
'We are not asking for the world but even if we were allowed another year to grieve. At this moment in time we are still grieving.
'But the Government don't think about the fact that every family is different.
'No two houses are the same but they don't look at that, they just think of the money.'
Hartlepool Housing said it was a unique and difficult case.
A spokesman added: 'We are very sad at the terrible bereavement that Julie and Mark suffered with the loss of Becky last year.
'We have recently been informing all tenants about the Government’s policy to reduce housing benefit to tenants with spare rooms. We have set up an advice service to discuss individual cases.
'The reforms have not yet been implemented and we finalising our proposals for a transitional discretionary fund which could be used in cases like this.
'There will be a number of cases in which the administrative body, the local authority, will look at individual circumstances and apply the reforms appropriately. We will work with Mr and Mrs Bell to ensure they receive the best advice and support.'