A WIDOW says she is being forced to leave the home she shared with her late husband because she cannot afford the “bedroom tax”.

Lyn Lyth, aged 60, who lives in New Lane, Top o’ th’ Brow, moved to her three-bedroom Bolton at Home house with Tom in 2005 — but he died from cancer nearly three years ago, aged 68.

His ashes are spread in the garden at the house and Mrs Lyth said she is heartbroken at the thought of leaving the home she and her husband made together. The house has been the main home for the couple, who met in 1998 through Mr Lyth’s aunt.

They tied the knot in 2000 when they returned from France, where Mr Lyth had worked as the European supervisor for a campsite firm for three years.

But under the government’s new under-occupancy penalty — branded the bedroom tax by opponents — Mrs Lyth is now being penalised by £19 a week and says she now only has just under £15 per week to live off.

She has been offered a one bedroom flat but says it will not be ready until the summer.

Mrs Lyth added: “I can’t begin to tell you how hard it is because I’m on my own.

“My first priority is food. If I have to choose between that and walking instead of getting the bus, I’d walk.

“You just have to get through it.”

Mrs Lyth — who cared for her husband during his long illness — said: “Most of our married life has been here.

“I’d like to think the memories won’t fade by moving but living here helps remind me of the times we had together.

“We’ve done a lot of improvements to the house because when we moved in here it was a mess.

“I don’t want to move and I don’t think anyone should be made to leave their home because they can’t afford to pay this tax.”

She said: “I can’t really afford to keep living in this house, especially if energy bills keep on rising.

“We’ve been using one of the rooms for when my grandchildren come to stay at the weekends.

“I won’t even have anywhere for my relatives to stay any more.”

Mrs Lyth is one of 2,330 Bolton at Home working-age tenants hit by the under-occupancy penalty.

A Bolton at Home spokesman said the organisation was “firmly against” the government’s introduction of the under-occupancy penalties.

He said: “While we can’t comment on individual circumstances we have endeavoured to make contact and have visited people to give them information.

“We’ve opened up a dedicated debt and money advice team help residents reduce bills, manage budgets, tackle debts and seek other benefits or payments they might be able to claim.”

The government trebled the amount of discretionary housing payment money it gave to the council this year to help people facing difficulty with their rents.

Richard Wilkinson, chief officer at Bolton Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “People are coming to see us with similar situations and there’s a clear impact in relation to people struggling to manage their weekly bills, particularly those in vulnerable groups.

“But there are discretionary housing payments available for people in situations like this and I’d encourage them to come and see us.”

The Department for Work and Pensions said it was putting fairness back into the system by making better use of the social housing stock and that change was needed to bring down waiting lists.

Any Bolton at Home tenant considering moving can contact the dedicated moving options officer on 01204 338 477 or e-mail ian.morton@boltonathome.org.uk Bolton CAB, in Mawdsley Street, can be contacted on 0808 8010011.