Disabled man facing eviction from Newcastle home blames bedroom tax

A disabled man claims he is facing eviction from his council flat over falling behind on rent payments.

The man, who wanted to remain anonymous, has blamed the Bedroom Tax for getting into financial difficulty and could be made to move in just over a month.

That’s if Your Homes Newcastle, an organisation which manages council homes across the city, decides to evict him from his flat in Westgate Road.

The potential eviction follows the loss of the tenant’s housing benefit.

Though it was reinstated, a shortfall caused by the bedroom tax was not paid, meaning his rent arrears have continued to rise.

The man appealed his eviction yesterday at Newcastle Crown Court in a case which will be heard again in 42 days. It will allow him to reapply for benefits that will enable him to pay his rent and reduce the level of arrears, according to the housing provider.

Following the hearing, he was joined at Todd’s Nook Tower on Westgate Road by fellow tenants and activists in protest of the proposals.

The man, who suffers from anxiety which worsens his arthritis, said his life has become dramatically worse since the situation began.

He said:

“This situation has made everything worse for me. The anxiety causes so much pain in my body and makes my arthritis even worse. It’s a massive downward health spiral.”

He added that the situation had left him unhappy in his own home, where he has lived for almost a decade.

I now hate being in the flat, I want out of it. The memories created by the way the council have treated me sicken me. There’s no way I can be happy here,” he said.

Bedroom Tax protest at Todds Nook flats off the Westgate Road
Bedroom Tax protest at Todds Nook flats off the Westgate Road

He said that the extended 42-day window before the decision is made on the eviction will give him more time to involve disability activists in his case in a bid to save himself from eviction.

Campaigner James Bell, 23, from Whitley Bay, attended the demonstration has offered support and advice to other tenants being hit by the tax.

Mr Bell said: “He’s come out and given support to people who are going through this. He’s been consistent to opposition to this.”

Tradesman Richard Hartfield, 34, from the West End of Newcastle added:

We’re putting the unity back in community. He’s helped others in need and we’re to return that.

“I’ve been in that situation a few times, it’s about having other people there that you can go to for advice. We’re here to defend the man and his rights.”

Your Homes Newcastle said eviction was only an option in the most extreme circumstances and that the situation has arisen after attempts to engage with the man failed.

Director of tenancy services Neil Scott said:

“Since the introduction of the bedroom tax in April 2013 we have made every effort to assist any tenant who has been affected and offer support to enable them to meet their rent payments.

“Eviction action has been an absolute last resort where we have exhausted all other avenues or where tenants have refused support from us.”

A spokesman for Newcastle City Council said:

“The council social housing provider Your Homes Newcastle has an excellent track record in supporting tenants who find themselves facing financial difficulties. We would much prefer to work with those at risk to help them avoid losing their homes. Clearly this does depend on the tenants being willing to cooperate in the process.”

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 28 Nov 2014

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