A severely disabled man claims he has been “threatened with eviction” from his home due to mounting rent arrears, after his benefits were stopped because of the UK Government’s hated ‘bedroom tax’ policy.
Nigel Hamlett, from Tewskesbury, who suffers from Cerebral Palsy, says the local council is threatening to evict him from his home due to “non-payment of rent for six weeks, because my housing benefit has been stopped”.
Mr Hamlett says the local authority has withdrawn round the clock care, resulting in cessation of his housing benefit entitlement.
The housing association and Tewkesbury Council say they are working with Mr Hamlett to hopefully alleviate his problems.
“24 hour care was taken off me, and I didn’t fight it this time”, said Nigel. “I can’t keep fighting year after year after year. It wears you down.”
Nigel says he is worried that his growing rent arrears and the loss of housing benefit will result in him becoming homeless.
“There is nowhere for disabled people to be put,” he told Gloucestershire Live. “It’s taken me 30 years to get a property like this, where do they want me to go?”
Nigel claims that he is being asked to pay an extra “£14 pound a week” in rent because of the reduction in his housing benefit entitlement, which he claims to be unaffordable.
He said: “They are saying I don’t need 24 hour care anymore, so this is where the bedroom tax comes into force.
“If I don’t need a live-in carer, I now have to pay tax on my spare room which I can’t afford – or move.
“Because I am disabled, everybody knows it’s not that easy to find an adapted place.
“So if I get evicted, where am I supposed to go?”
A spokesperson for Severn Vale said they cannot comment on individual cases, but added: “Generally speaking, however, our housing officers always work closely with customers to provide support and advice if they are struggling to meet their rent payments.
“Where we have permission from our customer, we will liaise directly with the local authority or with the Department of Work and Pensions to understand what benefits they are receiving and why.
“We follow nationally-approved guidelines about pre-court protocol – which includes allowing people enough time to pay if there are changes to benefits, for example.
They continued: “We don’t take action if there is a reasonable expectation that benefits will be paid and any rent arrears settled.
“It is only a last measure that we will take legal action to recover rent payments.”
Head of Corporate Services at Tewkesbury Borough Council, Graham Simpson, said: “While we weren’t involved in any decisions that resulted in Mr Hamlett’s change in circumstances in July, once we had been informed by him in October that his living situation had changed then we were legally required to investigate.
“Working to government legislation and following assessment by his social services team, Mr Hamlett only requires a one bedroom property.
“If he stays in a two-bedroom property then he will receive a 14 per cent reduction in benefits – that is government legislation.
“We are aware of Mr Hamlett’s preference to stay in his property, and we have gone above and beyond to support him in this, including to see if he qualifies for a discretionary housing payment to meet the shortfall in his current rent.
“The outcome of whether he will qualify will depend on Mr Hamlett’s income and expenditure but we are hopeful that this will allow him to stay in his current home.”