Severely Disabled Mum of Two First to be Evicted for Bedroom Tax Arrears

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Severely disabled mum of two Lorraine Fraser suffers from scoliosis (curvature of the spine), arthritis and is a wheelchair user.  Lorraine and her children now face impending homelessness due to just £248 of Bedroom Tax arrears.  Campaigners will be holding a Mass Sleep Out this Saturday in more than 60 towns and cities in solidarity with Lorraine, and so many others paying the penalty of ideological austerity.

Bedroom Tax Evictees

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Lorraine Fraser

The Labour run Council moved 46 year old Lorraine into a specially adapted flat with a wheelchair ramp, wet room and hand rails just two years ago. She has faced court action over £248 arrears in bedroom tax and has received a letter from North Lanarkshire Council on August 8th stating:

“I can advise you that North Lanarkshire Council has commenced court action to evict you from your home.”

She also faces the bill for the Council’s legal costs in pursuing the action.

Lorraine was already struggling to pay bills and feed herself prior to the Bedroom Tax, as she is reliant on Disability Living Allowance and other social security which is being reduced while the cost of living is rising.  But on April 1st this year she was informed she needed to find £62 a month in additional rent.  Council officers have visited her in her home to explain the eviction process, and no alternative accommodation has been offered.

Speaking to the Daily Record, Lorraine said:

“I can’t believe I am going to be thrown on the street. My condition is getting worse every day. This has caused me so much stress and anxiety it’s making me really ill.  I feel angry, upset and totally helpless.

“I feel like my life is falling apart. I have been in this house for two years and it was the council who put me here because they knew I needed a specially adapted home for my disability. Now they want to throw me out on the street like a piece of old rubbish. They are targeting the most vulnerable in our community. It’s a disgrace they are allowed to get away with it.”

In a matter of months we have become a nation which puts severely disabled people and their children on the streets, rather than supporting them to live in dignity.  If only Lorraine was an isolated case.

Cancer victim refuses to pay spare room subsidy

Veronica Kenning

Last August, wheelchair user Veronica Kenning was given a year to live last August, after developing terminal cancer. Veronica refused to find the cash from her meagre budget to pay the Bedroom Tax in her final months alive.  Rather than let the issue go, Birmingham City Council is pursuing her through the courts for the £23.57 a week.  She has received documentation from the Council stating:

“Your rent debt is now at an unacceptable level and we are serving you with a notice of seeking possession. This is a legal notice and should not be ignored.”

Veronica responded defiantly: “I haven’t got enough time left to waste it filling out forms. I’m making a stand.”

These are just two cases.  But Inside Housing report that of the 660,000 social housing tenants hit by the Bedroom tax, around two thirds will be disabled people. These tenants will lose between £520-1300 a year.  For those unfamiliar with being dirt poor, this means choosing between eating three meals a day and having the heating on for an hour in the evening in the winter.  Now the worst fears of campaigners and poor council housing tenants alike have become reality – they are losing their homes.

Some Housing Associations have pledged not to evict tenants over the Bedroom Tax, but will still face the reduced funding for Housing Benefit.

It’s Not Fair, and it’s Not Necessary

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The three pillars of the pro-Bedroom Tax argument are fairness, proper allocation of housing to need, and a reduction in the housing benefit bill to the tax payer.

Proper Allocation

First let us look at capacity.  There are five million people on waiting lists for social housing in the UK today.

Currently the UK is building 100,000 homes a year less than it needs to in order to meet requirements.  There is not adequate housing of sufficient type (one bed, two bed, three bed, etc.) to meet needs.

It was discovered recently that for 19 of every 20 people hit by the Bedroom Tax, no ‘appropriately sized’ accommodation was available.

Reducing the Housing Benefit Bill

Secondly, on the matter of reducing the Housing Benefit bill to the taxpayer – the government has failed to properly address why the bill has risen.  It simply states that it has, and that it must be reduced.

The National Housing Federation issued a report last year which showed Housing Benefit has doubled in recent years as a direct result of an astronomical increase in housing costs.  The report shows an 86% rise in housing benefit claims by working families, with 10,000 new claims coming in per month.  House prices are now 300% higher (in real terms) than in 1959.  If the price of a dozen eggs had risen as quickly, they would now cost £19. Rents across the UK have risen by an average of 37% in the UK in just the last three years.  The rise in Housing Benefit is coming from escalating private rents outpacing the rise in wages, not the ‘burden’ of the jobless.

Fairness

The truth is, decades of defunct housing policy has left the UK with a housing shortage crisis.

Instead of expanding the social house building programme, instead of taking on this cartel of private landlords who are artificially inflating rental prices to increase profits on tenants who have no option but to pay up, the government is walking away from the problem and blaming the victims.  How is that in any way fair?

The Mass Sleep Out

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This Saturday, 24th August, thousands of people across more than 60 towns and cities will be sleeping on the streets in protest at the Bedroom Tax.  The Mass Sleepout is not only a protest, but a chilling preview of coming attractions if we do not unite and fight back against the Bedroom Tax and regressive changes to the social security system.  It is time to stop asking when people will rise up.  They are rising.  The question is – will you be joining them?

Get Involved!

Join The Mass Sleep Out this Saturday.  Go to the website, find your nearest event and join in.  It doesn’t matter if you are a veteran protester or have never seen a placard in your life.  You will be welcomed and a part of something bigger than yourself.

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25 thoughts on “Severely Disabled Mum of Two First to be Evicted for Bedroom Tax Arrears

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  3. Lanarkshire Bedroom Tax Bullies

    This evil Under Occupancy Penalty couldna get much crazier
    Look at the harassment of brave disabled mum Lorraine Fraser
    Do North Lanarkshire Council have a heart as cold as a glacier?
    Those wee council meanies wanna implement a house seizure
    Never mind Lorraine’s children, her illness, the arthritis or scoliosis
    Lorraine doesn’t have life easy, it’s not a bed of bloomin’ roses
    Taking her to court for arrears of £248 is institutional psychosis
    That’s not even a month’s rent, now she’s got to pay court cost
    A decision that makes Lorraine poorer, a decision akin to frost
    No compassion or conscience, they care not if her home is lost
    Her home n sanctuary, specially adapted so Lorraine can survive
    Lorraine’s a brave ‘un, she’ll fight so her home they canna deprive
    Her kids Colette and Mark sleep in these rooms, they aint spare!
    Does Lanarkshire Council consider their plight? Do they even care?
    They have become Manicshire Council with their manic harassment
    Lorraine and family are facing eviction for less than a month’s rent
    Lorraine is getting worse, every day she’s ill, she doesn’t need stress
    She’s fighting the bullies who want to make a disabled lady homeless
    Yes the single worst piece of legislation Jim McCabe has ever seen
    Targeting the most vulnerable in society, is dishonourable and mean
    Let Lorraine live happily in her home, the council should leave her alone
    End this evil and unjust Bedroom Tax, into the bin it should be thrown!

  4. so much for entering the 21st century feels more like were slipping back into the 19th century seems to me more so money more important than people and profits are more important as recently laid off me self as my old company want make more money at the expense of the workers

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  6. Good article, a further read in the local press shows this lady may be in a wheel chair, but she is far from helpless. She has confronted the main government official at his door step, and clearly unnerved him, I take my hat off to her, this is a despicable social policy, and the craven scum class of politicians who support it need to go, pitch forks, tar, feathers and splintery rail, would be nice extras in their going away party, one must always remember that a politician is only as good as the time, and distance, you need to travel, to get your hands around his throat.

    While this story is important, and needed to be told, the real fight in your country, ( I am an American with plenty of battles to fight right here, but I like to keep an eye on what’s going on around the world, which is why I read, and comment on this blog.), is about, ” Land”, who owns it, who’s holding it, and what you can do with it. It affects those at the top, and at the bottom of your society, and drives all of your housing cost, and a lot of other related, and non related cost in your society, food being just one example. The top can well take care of themselves, the bottom for a good part is taking the knife. Home ownership is the only real cure to this problem, which started as a result of your previous governments back to the post war period in the 1940’s forwards, preference to subsidize rental units that the government would continue to own. Instead of a policy that encouraged home ownership for working class, and middle class families and singles. though home lending policies, that even if subsidized, in the form of government guaranty, would have increased societal wealth, across a broad plain, and the government would have recovered any funds expended in subsidy, through the increased value of property, in an expanding home ownership market, and the property taxes that generated. (This is what happened in the U.S. during the same time scale, the policy of encouraging home ownership through lending policies drove the market, the bulk of the lending was done in the private sector, meeting government set standards.) An ownership that would have produced long term family wealth, which subsidized housing no matter how generous can not do, and as you now see can be up ended at the whim of any political movement that takes power under your winner take all governmental system, with no constraints, that any politician needs respect, as you have no written constitution to hold them to account to.

    You need to attack the real cause of this disease land ownership, and usage, if you are ever to solve this problem, and encourage families to go the extra mile to own their own homes, instead of renting in a trap of government subsidized housing, that takes their most productive years,, and leaves them, and their children, with nothing but the hope that the subsidies will continue.

    You do no one any favor by taking them out of the economic market place, no matter how good your intentions you still leave them crippled when they have to reenter it, and at some point they will.

    • Owning your own home is not really the issue, why would you want to own a home? Nobody lives forever. There are better ways of making sure everyone has somewhere to live. In a truly civilized society no-one would be kicked out of their home.
      Land ownership is also a bit of a red herring, the land should belong to the people.

      • A nice view from LA LA Land, now come back to Earth, the Optimum Word in Subsidize Housing is, “Subsidize”, that means that, that portion of the UK population not living like, the 65% of UK population that are home owners, and somewhere north of 93% +/- of UK renters, that rent in the open market, and pay market rate rents, are getting a government Subsidized rent.

        Some simple rules here, Governments can either print money, and inflate the economy, making every one poorer, or they can rob us through taxes and fees. While all civilized countries will have some system in place to provide for the Poor, and Disabled, there is a limit on anyones call on the general purse, considering it is squeezed out of the rest of us, through taxes and inflation, and there are other things it needs to do, some I would agree with, some I don’t, not that I, or you get much say in the matter. so please inform me what right, do you have, to take my labor, and the food I would put in my families mouth, for your own, through a subsidy, that I do not get, or for that matter, want. I have found in life, that there are very few, truly free lunches, government subsidies tend in the end to own you, more then you own it. So while I may in charity give a portion of my earnings to the poor, it is my choice, not a requirement, the taxes I am forced to pay by law.

        Governments like market rate Landlords can change, you are now screaming about this, “bedroom tax”, this government, if it had an once of brains, could have said that it was going to reduce government outlays in subsidized housing, by simply increasing the rents across the board by, pick a number 1 to 3% a year for the next 5 or more years, your only protection is their forbearance, because clearly in your system of government they have the votes to do so. They just chose to enact this this very stupid law instead, smart they are not, but hay, either by voting for them, or not voting against them, or by not voting at all, which is also a vote for the winner, you put them in office, elections do have meaning.

        The numbers do not lie, a UK citizen that buys a house for his, or her, self, or family, will be wealthier over any given time period of ownership, then a renter of the same starting income and equal income in 90+% of the time, the home as an investment will increase in value, if managed properly, and may even produce income, for a smart owner. It is real wealth to leave to ones children, and in other ways to increase the wealth of a family. A rental unit even a subsidized one will not do this. Land is never free, even after a revolution land still belongs to someone, and in your country land held by your government, to a great extent is not used to house your population by building homes or anything else, its turned into parks and reserves or just held, why don’t you go ask them to give it back to the, “People”, and see how far you get. I to a great extent try to live my life in the real world, I may not like all of it , but it is what it is, I find it works better that way, you should try it.

        • Sadly Mike that’s not how it works here. Those who buy their homes just sell them to pay for their nursing home fees. There’s no legacy or inheritance to pass down. Private rents and housing costs are now totally unaffordable to most with averag me house prices at £250k and a minimum 10-15% deposit that people cannot afford as saving is all but impossible thank to cost of living rising at four times the rate of wages.

          • Ok I am from the USA, but I do know how to do research, so to your first statement, that most home owners in the UK sell their homes to pay their nursing home fees, please justify that statement with researchable facts, and sources. Or I could do a source search of UK wills for the last 4 or 5 years, this kind of data is always out there in governmental, or social science data bases. The last data I have, and it is from the last two years says that 65% of your population own their own homes, and unless an illness takes them out of the blue, they have more then enough time to plan how their property is past to their children, to be blunt the statement does not hold water.

            Mean prices are a useless number when dealing in the housing market, all it means is that half of the home prices are higher then the number, and half are lower. Something I know about since I sell them for a living. A better judge of the housing market, is where you live. Can you find a house, condo, or a lot to build on in your community, and don’t just look for the standard house box, or one close to you, for what you can afford, and if not, how far do you have to go to find one. Calculate commute time, and cost, and add it to you housing price, if you can pay for the commute, you may be able to live closer in, and let’s be real here, you are not going to live in some parts of London for under 500,000.00 Pounds, or more, but a search of London, and its close in suburbs will produce affordable homes.

            For the fun of it, I looked at the housing market in the community where the lady in your story lives, there are market rate rent which I found on line, using a UK rental, and sale data base, that shows active rentals, and sales. There were homes in that community starting in the 75,000 Pound range, and I did not look at condo’s, or row houses, meaning that number will go lower, monthly market rate rentals starting from 345.00 Pounds for two bed rooms.

            Families that want a home save for it, at 10% down a 100,000.00 Pound house is 10,000 Pounds plus cost, these are not numbers out of the reach of a working family if they want a home, and given the number of home owners in your country, it is clearly being done all the time, or are you saying the 65% of home owners are the exception to the rule.

            Never try to cripple a low income person by telling them what they can not do, or that they must be wards of the government to have a decent life, most have more skills then you know, and a working family can always improve its economic standing by working more, or educating one partner, while the other works, and then do the same again for the other, I know families that was done this, and pulled themselves into this middle class, it works.

            You people are having a hard economic time, and so are we, and your governments policies are no help. You can not cut your way out of a down turn, put another way, ( “Austerity”, is like putting your head in a noose, and jumping off a chair, and then trying to find a source of air), down turns that’s when you invest, and put people back to work, look around the world, and look at the austerity economies, and the spending growth economies, and see who is doing better, if we in the US had done what your UK government did, we would all be in bread lines, if we could find any bread, no I do not have much respect for this UK government, don’t hold the one in the US all that high either, but in somethings they do have some brains, not much but some, when they are not spying on us, and the rest of the world, or engaged in other murderous acts.

            I will leave you with this, don’t sit around listening to people, tell you what can not be done, go and look for your self, you may see something different, some of the best homes I have found for families who’s incomes were low, was because I was, and am, always willing to go out, and take a look, you will be surprised of what you will find. The same goes with jobs, yes it is lousy, and you don’t want to do it, but it pays, two bad jobs that pay, is better then no job the does not, and if you got some skills work for your self. think outside of the economic box they want to put you in, crying about it, hoping it will change, dues no one any good, fix your self and your family first, the rest will take care of it self.

  7. to evict a severly disabled woman from her house because of the bedroom tax ;is disgusting the council concerned should be ashamed of themselfs even worse that tory goverment should be ashamed as well for what they are doing to vunerable people i aso hope this womans story hits the headlines mane and shame the council officals

    • Yes it is in so many ways, but here is a thought, both of her kids who live with here are clearly at working age, what are they doing to protect the roof over their, and their wheel chair bound mothers heads, just asking.

  8. I too am a North Lanarkshire Council resident now facing eviction over bedroom tax arrears. I am not sick or disabled but I am unemployed so life isn’t easy trying to survive on JSA. I’m being threatened with eviction for £130 arrears, although when the final demand came in it was for just £81 so that just goes to show how ruthless this council is. When I say council I suppose I really mean Councillors, as the staff I have spoken to have been very supportive and sympathetic, if they could they would do more, it’s just that their hands are tied by this heartless Labour run Council. NLC has over 6,000 tenants affected by the bedroom tax, how many of us have had an eviction notice I wonder?

    I have asked NLC staff what the chances are of being moved to a smaller property and been told quite clearly that there are no 1 or 2 bedroom properties available. Despite NLC being one of the few local authorities building new homes, some just down the road from me, they are not building accommodation to meet smaller household needs that would then free up larger properties. I have to wonder at their competence since during their planning of new homes they would have known the bedroom tax was to be implemented this year.

    As you said in your article I am in a catch 22 position. Either I pay up and stay where I am, or I move out of social housing and move into the private rental market that has more properties of the size I need. The problem with the latter is that for a smaller sized property I would be paying more and therefore claiming more in housing benefit. So not exactly helping the government lower the welfare bill, eh? There is of course another problem with the latter option, more and more private landlords are refusing to rent to the unemployed because of the introduction of Universal Credit as this means housing benefit will no longer be paid directly to the landlord. They naturally fear that they too will start to suffer the increase in rent arrears that is already being felt by every social landlord up and down the country.

    The government don’t have a single clue how hard their policies are hitting the most vulnerable in our society. I have been, and hopefully still am, a strong independent woman who has worked for over 30 years paying my tax and national insurance, and although it is stressful facing eviction I know I will get through this. Unfortunately I now also know just how hard it has been for a lot of people in my position up and down the country. I now better understand why some have felt desperate and suicidal. None of us expected our safety net to have such lopping great holes in it. Sadly for our nation some people fall through these holes and we lose them completely. This government has sold out every one of us to the highest, and lowest, bidder and they do not give a rat’s ass who suffers as a result.

  9. I just wanna know where they are going to house the influx of immigrants next year when they arrive. Is there a method in the governments madness, are these houses being made available for their arrival.

  10. This is so wrong they are targetting the wrong people.
    I agree that the able bodied dont need to have a bedroom each. my parents bought there own home and my sister and I shared she was 6 years younger than me, and my brothers shared as well. I had a friend who shared a bedroom with 3 others sisters 4 in a bouble room they had bunk beds so why do able bodied families need to have a room each.?

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  12. This country has gone to the dogs {thats a mild word cant put wot i really want to} we have no rights anymore this bedroom tax is one of many stupid and usless things they have ever done then they wonder why no one votes for them before they start with the bedroom tax i think there are more important things to do like sort out the immgration problem out first then we will have enouugh money in the bank we could scrap the bedroom tax among others

  13. A government can best be judged by the way it treats the poor and needy.If they wanted to save money make MPs and local councillors take a wage and expenses cut. From each according to their substance -to the weak and sick according to their needs.

  14. Another really well written post which I have shared. As a tenant who is being squeezed by a private landlord I know how difficult it is to be faced with no alternative but to move house yet not be able to find anywhere. However, I am not a single parent and neither am I disabled. It is nothing short of scandalous to hear how local authorities are dealing with the victims of the bedroom tax.

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  16. Another point which is salient to the reducing the ‘Housing Benefit Bill’, from most of the reports in the press and online it seems that displaced tenants will end up in private short term accommodation at significantly higher cost. Hence higher Housing Benefit claims. Seems pretty illogical. The only way that this can reduce the Housing Benefit bill is if people don’t claim HB. The only logical inference from this is that they must be homeless. I suppose that this can be the only intention of this ridiculous piece of legislation. Equivalent only in its stupidity to the archaic ‘Window Tax’, but that survived for 156 years.

  17. Thanks for this article. I support you and appreciate your blog, but a couple of points. You’ve missed out a few words from this sentence ‘Inside Housing report that of the 660,000 social housing tenants hit by the Bedroom tax, around disability.’ Secondly, disabled people tend not to like the term ‘wheelchair bound’. Wheelchair user is better, as people are not tied to their wheelchairs. thanks

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