Supermarket worker Andrew Wilcox, 47, wants to move from the three-bed semi in Reed Avenue, Canterbury, to avoid losing £60 a month to the so-called bedroom tax – which slashes benefits for families with spare rooms.
But he says council red tape is stopping him from switching to a smaller home with Shaun, 14 – despite a larger family already eyeing up his under-occupied house off Sturry Road.
Andrew Wilcox and his fourteen year old son Shaun
Housing bosses say any move is being held up because his
ex-partner – who left him 18 months ago – is still named on the tenancy.
Mr Wilcox says the situation is “an absolute nightmare” and has left him out of pocket since changes were introduced in April.
He said: “The increase has left me with very little money and it’s very stressful.
"I’ve been jumping through hoops and fulfilling every obligation for the council, but they’re telling me that because my partner is still on the tenancy I can’t move.
"I’ve found the ideal place in Wingham for us, somewhere that would also suit the other people who need somewhere bigger. The whole thing has been an absolute nightmare.”
Mr Wilcox told of his plight as it emerged almost half of the 378 council tenants affected by the benefit changes are now in rent arrears, with 23 facing eviction.
But, at an executive meeting recently, senior councillors said the new system is helping the authority make better use of its housing stock and allowing families to move into homes more suited to their sizes.
Andrew and Shaun are desperate to move to a smaller home
They denied they were out to evict people from their homes, insisting it was a last resort for tenants who had failed to communicate with the council about their situations.
Cllr Joe Howes, the council’s executive member for housing, wants anyone suffering as a result of the changes to go to him directly.
He said: “We are trying to make this fair for all people and we have started to see successes with people moving from overcrowded small homes to bigger ones.
"We have tried to help those people in rent arrears, but they have not been forthcoming.
“I am here ready to help these 23 people facing eviction and anyone who needs help can come to me directly. We want people to have the best possible solutions to their housing needs.”
The scheme reduces the housing benefit of council tenants regarded as under-occupying properties, in an effort to encourage them to move to smaller homes so larger families can move into bigger ones.
Families can choose to stay, but will have to pay increased rents as a result of reduced benefits.
“The increase has left me with very little money and it’s very stressful" - Andrew Wilcox
Ian Page, of the Canterbury and Whitstable Anti-Cuts Group, called for the council to not evict anyone from their homes.
He told the meeting: “The stress and suffering to households receiving notification will be enormous. I would urge the council to stop evictions and mitigate the effects of this.”
The executive voted that the council would provide support to anyone who found themselves in difficulties as a result of changes to housing benefits and would only use evictions as a last resort.