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Maidstone pensioner Charles Barden found hanged at home amid fears of the government's bedroom tax

A pensioner found hanged was worried he would lose his home because of the government’s bedroom tax, a coroner has been told.

Charles Barden, of South Park Road, Maidstone, was found dead at his three-bedroom house on the same date his wife Sadie passed away 19 years earlier.

At an inquest into the 74-year-old’s death, DS Sophie Keeling said Mr Barden had told friends he was concerned about his finances and that he would be affected by the change to housing benefits.

The bedroom tax has caused concerns for some tenants
The bedroom tax has caused concerns for some tenants

New regulations recommend people with one or more spare room face a rent increase or could be asked to move to a smaller property - although pensioners are in fact exempt from the so-called 'bedroom tax'.

DS Keeling said: “He was concerned about things he’d seen in the news, about people with more than one bedroom were at risk of losing their properties.”

She added someone from the council had been to visit Mr Barden, who lived alone, and he thought it was a way of “trying to get him out of the property”.

He had spoken about suicide to his close friend Alvar Cloughton, but it is not believed he had attempted to take his own life in the past.

Mr Barden, who has two children from his first marriage, was step-father to his second wife’s three daughters, including Alison Whittington.

Mrs Whittington said her step-dad had never got over the death of her mum and even though he remained active, he was lonely when he returned to the house they shared, which remained untouched since she died.

“He was concerned about things he’d seen in the news, about people with more than one bedroom were at risk of losing their properties" - DS Sophie Keeling

The pensioner’s body was found on Tuesday, October 13 last year, by concerned neighbours.

The day before, a colleague from the Ridge Golf Club, in Chartway Street, Sutton Valence, came to collect Mr Barden but there was no answer.

The retired groundsmen would often help out at the club.

He is last known to be alive on Saturday, October 10, when he bought a newspaper and a lottery ticket.

Mid Kent and Medway coroner Patricia Harding said there was not enough evidence to confirm Mr Barden took his own life.

She recorded an open conclusion with suspension given as the medical cause of death.


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