Benefits changes from April
by Angela Cole
It may not be a palace, but Sally Moore does not want
to leave her home of 36 years. To pay her bills, the 58-year-old
buys her shopping monthly and freezes it. She doesn’t use lights at
night, and rarely goes out in her car. But this frugal, £90-a-week
existence and careful budgeting is futile against the government’s
welfare reform, under which she is deemed to be "under-occupying"
her th ree-bedroom home and must pay an extra £25 a week or
With no way of finding the
additional funds, Sally, who cares for her 80-year-old diabetic
mother next door, has taken the decision to move out.
Sally, who has lived in the same
Mangravet street almost all her life, first with her parents a few
doors down and then with her late husband and three sons – Paul,
38, Barry, 36, and Gareth, 34 – is now one of a raft of Golding
Homes tenants looking to take part in a mutual exchange before the
new charges come in.
This means she is hoping to swap
her home with a family who live in a two-bedroom
But with many tenants looking to
downsize, the demand for smaller houses is much larger than the
want for bigger homes.
"They can pick and choose,"
Her carefully-kept abode, which
includes a kitchen she put in herself and large fish pond in the
garden, will be hard to replicate.
She said: "I don’t want to move
far. I need to get to my mum. I go round twice a day.
"It is a huge worry. My blood
pressure has gone up again."
Sally hopes to find a new base
with a garden, so she can take her fish, but her 15-year-old cat
Minnie will be moving in with her mum to prevent too much upheaval
for the elderly feline.
A new two-bedroom home will mean
Beacon Church volunteer Sally pays an extra £14 a week, but she
says switching to a one-bedroom property would be
"It is still going to be hard to
pay for one room. But I need to be able to have mum with me if she
gets really ill. My son who lives in Essex also needs to stay when
Mutual exchange is just one way
tenants can tackle under-occupancy.
For advice on the
welfare reforms, call 01622 602557.
The Kent Messenger is
running a series of features on the changes in the coming weeks and
how they will affect thousands of people when they come into
force in April.
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