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Family's agony over bedroom tax
Updated 1:16pm Tuesday 8th April 2014 in News
A FAMILY faces being made homeless as Basildon Council prepares for its first-ever controversial “bedroom tax” eviction.
The authority is taking Teresa Whitby, 59, to court on Friday to apply for possession of her home after she fell into rent arrears.
The Tory administration is thought to be one of the first authorities in the country to start evicting people who have fallen into arrears because of the benefit slash.
Angry campaigners called Basildon Council “the meanest in the country”.
Mrs Whitby claims about half of her £900 arrears have been caused by the spare room subsidy, dubbed the “bedroom tax”, which was introduced last year.
The Government scheme, which cuts benefits to social housing tenants deemed to have an empty room, was brought in to encourage people to move into smaller properties.
Mrs Whitby, husband Bill, 62, and their son, could now be evicted from their three-bedroom home.
They have struggled to cope since their housing benefit was cut by £15 a week.
She said: “I’ve called councillors, MPs, and have even been to a church to see if they can do anything, but I don’t think there’s anything anyone can do now.
“The stress has been unbelievable and I’m living in fear of being homeless.”
The couple moved into their home 40 years ago.
Mrs Whitby added: “We’ve been living in this town all our lives and my father helped build it.
“We’ve been working here for so long and have been paying our taxes and rent all our lives until we ran into difficulties when we lost our jobs.”
The couple receive £112aweek between them in Jobseeker's Allowance, but claim this does not cover their rent. The Echo revealed earlier this year that the 15,000 Basildon residents affected by the “bedroom tax”
have almost no hope of downsizing due to a lack of council homes.
Since the reforms were introduced, just 48 tenants have moved.
Dave Murray, who set up the Basildon Against Bedroom Tax campaign group, said: “Basildon is looking like it is the meanest council in the country with this move.
“This is a person that has never claimed benefits before in her life before last April’s bedroom tax was brought in and now she has fallen into arrears.”
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