By Ros Wynne-Jones 22 May 2013 00:00
ROS WYNNE JONES’ REAL BRITAIN
Just over a month since the tax began letters with the words “final demand” and even “eviction” written on them started arriving
And so the Bedroom Tax evictions have started.
This weekend, just over a month since the tax began, came letters with the words “final demand” and even “eviction” written on them.
“The letter was hand-delivered,” says Alan in Lanarkshire, who I spoke to in Scotland on Monday.
“On a Sunday. An eviction letter because I owe £50.10 Bedroom Tax.”
By any definition, Alan is one of the country’s more vulnerable people.
Now aged 38, he grew up in care and has been deeply affected by a series of family tragedies, including the suicide of his mother.
In 2003, he had a breakdown and suffers from an acute depressive disorder as well as several physical problems.
For personal reasons he doesn’t want me to use his full name, but his problems are real enough.
Alan’s council flat is his sanctuary. He is too frightened to leave home except to go to the hospital for appointments with a psychologist.
You can imagine how a hand-delivered eviction letter affected him.
Labour-run North Lanarkshire is Scotland’s biggest council housing landlord, and 6,038 people there are affected by the Bedroom Tax.
The council’s leader Jim McCabe has vocally opposed the cut, calling it “the single worst piece of legislation I have ever seen”.
Yet while many councils across the country have said they will do everything they can to avoid evicting people who cannot afford the Bedroom Tax, North Lanarkshire say they are not adopting a “no evictions” policy until they have studied the impact of reforms.
Alan says he only ever wanted a one-bedroom council flat.
“I was told there weren’t any available,” he says. “They insisted I take a two-bedroom one.”
He has since asked to downsize to avoid the tax but there are only 90 one-bedroom properties available in the whole borough and thousands of people are in his situation.
More than 90% of the flats were occupied even before the Bedroom Tax.
Meanwhile, this weekend, a series of Bedroom Tax eviction notices also emerged in South Lanarkshire – a separate, neighbouring Labour council.
Those affected included Angela Buskie, a mother of three from East Kilbride, who has been targeted over arrears of less than £130.
Her letter said: “If you do not pay, we will take legal action against you. This means you could be evicted from your home.
“If you are evicted for not paying your rent, we can still collect payments for the money you owe us straight from your wages or your bank.”
The leader of South Lanarkshire council, Eddie McAvoy, claims the letter was a mistake – despite the fact it was also hand delivered.
Meanwhile, Angela Buskie’s solicitor Gordon Dangerfield says he has three other cases in the borough.
McAvoy has now vowed that the council will not ask tenants to pay Bedroom Tax arrears until at least April 2014.
Angela says this will only delay the inevitable:
“I will still be getting into arrears and worrying about how I am going to pay.”
In North Lanarkshire, Alan’s eviction letter came despite the fact he has lodged an application for a Discretionary Housing Payment – the emergency handouts the Government claim will help the vulnerable.
Dangerfield says his clients in the neighbouring borough are all in the same position.
North Lanarkshire council, which is facing £64million in cuts handed down from central Government, says it has set aside £5.3million to help people affected by welfare reform.
In April, 1,451 applications were made to the local DHP emergency fund. A year ago, that figure was just 37 people.
A spokesman for the council said it does not discuss individual cases, and has not sent out eviction letters.
Alan’s letter doesn’t use the word “eviction” explicitly.
But it does say:
“This letter is notification that North Lanarkshire Council will be raising proceedings for the possession of the dwelling house at [his address] due to outstanding rent arrears.”
Which sounds a lot like eviction to Alan.
He also owes £80 for a lost front door key, and he is struggling to pay that. Before he became ill, Alan used to work with homeless people.
“I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do,” he says. “I’d be living on the streets with my old clients.
“The thing is, if I managed to borrow the money now, in the next couple of months I’ll owe another £50. It will be endless.”
It is unclear why Lanarkshire – north and south – are putting eviction on the agenda so much earlier than other councils.
But, with 660,000 people affected by Bedroom Tax nationwide, it is more than a taste of things to come.
Nearly 400 miles away in London, the High Court is still considering a verdict on whether Bedroom Tax discriminates against disabled people.
The stories of the 10 test cases from across the UK are heartbreaking – victims of assault and abuse, children with Down’s Syndrome, a woman with spina bifida.
All of them now penalised by cruel, poorly thought out welfare changes.
Alan, raised in care, lives in isolation, walled in by anxiety.
“I’ve a couple of wee cats I’ll have to take to a shelter now,” he says. “Beyond that, well, if I had a rope in the house…” His voice falters. “I might be using it. That’s how they get to you.”
To hear someone discussing welfare reform in such grave terms is now becoming distressingly commonplace.
A grandmother has already taken her own life. But still the Government’s austerity steamroller rumbles on.
Join the fight against Bedroom Tax at www.no2bedroomtax.co.uk
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POST: Real Britain, Daily Mirror, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AP
CALL: 020 7293 3000 and ask for the Real Britain desk.
Bedroom tax eviction nightmare as Scots Labour-run councils threaten to boot struggling families out of their homes Posted on May 21, 2013
Bedroom Tax suicide: Stephanie Bottrill’s grieving son Steven hits out at David Cameron Posted on May 15, 2013
12 thoughts on “Bedroom Tax evictions set to begin as first notification letters arrive”
“It is unclear why Lanarkshire – north and south – are putting eviction on the agenda so much earlier than other councils.”
Why?, because they are as bad as the Tories!
I am ashamed to have to live in a country that allows banks to bankrupt it taking everything its got and then turn on its most vulnerable . What kind of men and woman pick on the weak the country I was brought up on showed a bit more respect than that ,even the threat of it I find disgusting where are your backbones
and what kind of future are you creating . Think ! You are a disgrace and not fit to serve…….. Resign Or move to Engalnd
Automated council bullshit!
The day council employees are actually trained to deal with real life situations, as opposed to conveyor belt autonomy, realising there are many individual cases, will be a better day for us all!
Local government = CORRUPT! Horrible people.
I would like to know if this money goes to something that councils have been forced to budget for. If not they are enforcing a ‘tax’ that just fills some deficit made by other losses of revenue that have not as yet emerged. It is my belief that enforcement of this policy will in the long run cost councils more, and individual householders more. Relocation, temporary housing, etc cost far more in the long run. People all over the country are being held to ransom for the last bits of their spare cash, in order that central government can carryout an ideological emptying of property in order to create a little property boom closer to them which they and their supporters will benefit from. Well motivated councils should say no to this. If they can defer payments temporarily the should do so, and then decide on reasonable moral grounds not to collect them at all. Evictions should similarly be deferred, and then eviction orders withdrawn. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain, because people will feel that their councillors are acting in their interests, and not the interests of supporting what is proving to be a tyrannical regime.
What “spare cash” would that be? Most of these people are struggling to survive on the barest of incomes and don’t have anything spare! I know mums who only eat one meal a day so their kids can eat and often don’t eat at all! No wonder there are people committing suicide! Personally I would rather do that than be homeless.
Ironic? I think you said it ” the most anti-tory…” It makes perfect sense to a nasty, vindictive tory government I would say.
yes but those who caused this are still walking around free and still doing it with this lot looking on ,perhaps when the persons working saying they not social scroungers but then find they are bcause they claim tax for their children well then they are open to this abuse are they going to stand has it seems at the moment its just the unemployed and sick disabled wh oare getting clobbered by this watch out coming your way is a tent city jeff3
i have never seen such outright persecution of the poor and disabled…
up until now people from abroad have tried so hard to enter this realm…. by lorry and ferry… thinking the yuk is the land of plenty…. well maybe they need to be warned… that is now worse than the hell they came from!
shame on this “government”…. bad luck… to all who are party to it.think of 1637 and when a new prayer book was introduced to scotland… jenny geddes threw a stool at the minister in glasgow cathedral…sometimes it takes actions rather than words!
are we all to go like sheep to the slaughter?
Surely this is very old news, now?
All hail to the Mirror, but the leader of Lanarkshire council has cancelled all those heinous notices, saying that he was not consulted, and if he had been, the notices would never have been sent out.
Right lets send Cameron / Osborne / IDS / Clegg and all those high ranking councillors in every council in both the UK /Scotland & Wales their eviction notices as they exceed their needs?, We the voters hereby give you all notice to downsize within the next 7 days? or scarp this unfair bedroom poll tax & forced homeless!
Cameron you are given notice leave no 10 asap?????
Hmm, this seems only right to me. Public housing is a national asset that should be distributed to the most needy, not those who have been there the longest. Therein lies the problem with so many corrupt socialist regimes over the decades