Portsmouth mum goes without food in bid to keep home for her son

Janina Daniels with her son Shane.''''Picture: Paul Jacobs  (131879-2)
Janina Daniels with her son Shane.''''Picture: Paul Jacobs (131879-2)
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MUM Janina Daniels has gone without food to try and keep a home her severely disabled son Shane can visit.

But now the 53-year-old fears she may have to move out of her specially-built home.

Her son Shane, 29, suffers from cerebral palsy and lives with two carers.

They fostered him when he was 16 after providing respite care.

His room has been classified as empty under new welfare benefit rules – losing Janina £16-a-week in housing benefit.

She said she is now in arrears and has gone without eating to try and pay.

‘They’re after people moving to a smaller place because they don’t need the rooms – I still need the room for my son,’ she said.

‘What am I supposed to do – move to a smaller house then I can’t have my son?

‘It’s a purpose-built disabled house. I watched this house being built when I moved from my own house. This is his home.’ Janina, a baker, moved into the home in Pedam Close, Southsea, with Shane, after watching it being built to house him.

But when he grew older she faced difficulties looking after him and he was looked after by foster parents.

Government changes to the welfare system now mean tenants of working age who get housing benefit can have their pay-outs reduced if they are deemed to have a spare room.

Janina lives in the three-bedroom home with a lodger.

But she looks after Shane when he visits one weekend in six – a visit made possible by the adaptations to the home – and a time she looks forward to.

Although working at a local shop, the reduction in housing benefit payments may mean she will have to move out.

The housing association in charge of her home – First Wessex – first thought 1,500 of its tenants would be affected by the introduction of the bedroom tax.

It now estimates it has dropped to 1,000 after it gave support to tenants.

The firm helped Janina apply for discretionary housing benefit payment, which was rejected by Portsmouth City Council.

In a statement, Carol Williams, First Wessex’s director of operations, said: ‘In Janina’s case we first contacted her in February to offer advice and support.

‘Since the application to the council she has not asked us for any further help but we will contact her again to see if there is any more we can do.’

It added it was likely that Shane is considered as living with carers full-time, not his mum.

Cllr Darren Sanders, cabinet member for housing said he could not comment on Janina’s case but advised her to speak again to First Wessex.