> So far its only individuals who are reaching the point of no return. How long before whole sectors of society blow up ?
A father of four children threatened to ‘blow up’ his own home yesterday (4 June 2014) as he faced eviction due to the government’s controversial ‘bedroom tax’ housing policy.
52 year-old Michael Hilton from Church, East Lancashire, had been living in his social home for 30 years before being ‘hounded’ by his social landlord, Hyndburn Homes, to cover the shortfall in his rent since September 2013.
Mr Hilton was told that he would have to contribute toward the cost of his rent because a spare bedroom in his home was not being used, even though his children sometimes occupied the bedroom when they came to visit.
Bailiffs reported the incident to the police who arrived at the property with six cars, two police vans, police dogs, a riot van and two fire engines.
Mr Hilton’s distressed wife and son, Johnny, looked from behind police barriers as Michael barricaded himself in the property and refused to leave.
Onlookers soon gathered at the scene with one witness saying: “It’s the government this is. They are putting these taxes on vulnerable and poor people and look what happens.”
Another onlooker told the Lancashire Telegraph: “It’s been his home for 30 years. It’s a bit extreme but no-one would want to be thrown out like that”.
A police negotiator was sent to the house to try to convince Mr Hilton to leave the property voluntarily. However, police say that a decision was eventually reached to force entry into the house and detain Mr Hilton.
Mr Hilton’s 29 year-old son Johnny, said: “I knew something like this was going to happen. He has been hounded to pay bedroom tax since September last year.
“My dad has four children altogether and, sometimes, they stay here with him.
“In the eyes of the council, he has a spare room but, from his point of view, that’s a bedroom for his kids.
“I have even tried to speak to the council myself and try to sort it out. I called them last week and told them that my dad has mental health problems. He thinks he’s being persecuted.”
“He has been driven to this and I think that he feels like he is making a stand for everyone that has been faced with the unfair bedroom tax. I am very worried about him.”
Nigel Fenton, managing director of Hyndburn Homes, said:
“Any repossession of a tenant’s home is always an absolute last resort and would only happen after we have repeatedly attempted to resolve the issues and help them.
“We always try to support our tenants and assist them in any way that we can. We would always urge our tenants to discuss problems with us so that we can provide our support.
“Staff from Hyndburn Homes were at the scene and worked with the emergency services to ensure the safety of residents in the area.
“We have been made aware of gas cylinders at the rear of the property and we have been working with officers from the council to resolve this matter.”
A spokesman for Lancashire Police said:
“We were very concerned as there was a suggestion that there was petrol inside the property and we had also heard reports that he had a large number of gas canisters with him.
“We sent a negotiator in to reason with him but eventually, a decision was taken to enter the house and detain the man.”
Source – Welfare News Service, 05 June 2014
Fraud squad detectives are probing claims jobseekers were conned out of cash in an elaborate ‘Hustle-style’ scam from luxury city centre offices.
Applicants were interviewed by ‘Options 4 Families’ at a rented office in the Manchester One building on Portland Street, but heard nothing from the company after paying £65 for background checks upon offers of employment.
The £18.5k-a-year ‘trainee child counsellor’ jobs were even advertised on the government’s own Universal Jobmatch website – but the Department of Work and Pensions has since removed the adverts and has sent a warning to those who applied.
> Maybe they want to take a look at all those non-jobs that clutter up UJ – leaflet distributors, etc. But I suppose if they did, they’d have virtually nothing left – few respectable advertisers use UJ.
Other candidates are understood to have left their current jobs after being offered positions.
Burnley-based businessman John Sothern, 44, interviewed candidates at the start of January and is understood to have offered at least 12 people roles based in Manchester city centre following two days of interviews.
He is now at the centre of a police investigation – but denies any wrongdoing.
Greater Manchester Police were called to Manchester One by an interviewee on January 8 but Mr Sothern had fled the premises by the time officers arrived.
The M.E.N has spoken to jobseekers who were told they would begin their roles – which would increase to £34k-a-year after a training period – at the start of February but have still not heard from the company six weeks after transferring money.
Lancashire Police confirmed allegations regarding the Manchester-based jobs were passed to them by national agency Action Fraud on January 28.
It is understood a fraud probe into Mr Sothern’s activities is currently examining around 70 alleged offences across the north west.
A Lancashire Police spokeswoman said: “We can confirm officers have received a report in relation to an allegation of fraud. An investigation has been launched and enquiries are on-going in relation to this matter at this time.”
A Department of Work and Pensions spokeswoman said: “The vast majority of those employers offer genuine roles for jobseekers to apply for – however we won’t hesitate to ban anyone who tries to break the rules and post fraudulent jobs. When possible, it can – and has – led to criminal prosecutions.”
Options 4 Families was dissolved as a limited company in 2010.
Matthew Bourton, 24, thought he’d finally ended his two-year search to find work when he was offered a ‘trainee child therapist’ job by Options 4 Families.
He applied through Universal Jobmatch and was interviewed just hours before police were called to the office on January 8.
Matthew, who has been out of work since leaving university, was offered the position the following day. He was then asked to provide a ‘refundable’ payment of £65.60 for a Disclosure and Barring Service background check to be carried out.
Six weeks later, he’s had no contact from the company.
Matthew, of Wigan Road, Leigh, said: “The job itself seemed too good to be true, but I’m so desperate to find work I was ready to believe everything I was being told. John Sothern was very friendly and charming. I gave my details for the bank transfer and that’s the last I’ve heard from them.
“I tried to get in touch with them but the number was a dead line. There was no mention of them on the internet apart from their own website and I came to the realisation that I’d been had. I feel taken advantage of and totally devastated.”
Businessman John Sothern insists job offers with Options 4 Families were genuine and he has done ‘nothing wrong’.
Mr Sothern is aware of a police investigation into the interview process at Manchester One but insists applicants will be given the jobs they were offered with Options 4 Families. He intends to contact candidates ‘within seven to 10 days’.
He said: “We’ve applied for funding with different organisations, including the Big Lottery Fund, and with private investors. As soon as we get that funding through, we’ll be in a position for people to start those jobs. We’ve had to put everything on hold but those people offered jobs will be getting e-mails – the jobs are still open. Background checks are standard industry practice and those people will get their money back.”
Source – Manchester Evening News, 03 Mar 2014