Pay Back Time?
Today I received the shattering news that the housing benefit we have relied on for the last three years to help towards the rent has been stopped by Hillingdon. Ironically, I was notified at a meeting I attended after applying for a discretionary housing payment as I have been really struggling to pay the rent since the rent cap was introduced. The guy admitted that the regulations haven’t changed and our circumstances haven’t changed but Hillingdon have decided to reinterpret the regulations. They now see our old marital home differently than they have for the past three years. Up until now, they have disregarded the property as not being available to me, as Steven’s mother still lives there and is unwilling to sell, and that it is in Steven’s best interests to be living away from there. Today, they say that they have to take half the value of the house into account as being available to me and that disqualifies me from any benefit.
So, from October 16th, Steven and I will be homeless. Or there’s a possibility that he won’t be but we won’t be able to live together. Steven could be offered a place under the independent living scheme with 24 hour live in support, possibly even the flat we’re currently living in, if I can get the landlord to agree to change the tenancy. But being family, I cannot be that live in support as my presence wouldn’t make it “independent”. As there is nowhere locally that I could afford to rent on my income, that seems to be the only option open to us, even though it is hardly in Steven’s best interests and goes against all the court recommendations. Obviously, the council don’t have any duty to rehouse me as a single man, and if I remain as the main applicant, Steven is only treated as a non dependent and his specific needs become irrelevant.
My friend and our solicitor reckons this is Hillingdon’s revenge. I don’t want to appear too paranoid but it is odd that after three years, their decision about the HB is suddenly completely reversed. In applying for the discretionary payment, I had to lay myself totally bare, so they would be fully aware that it is impossible for Steven and I to live together, anywhere in the borough, without the assistance of the benefit. I wouldn’t be able to work more hours to try to make up the shortfall because I don’t have the support to cover. In fact, after yesterday’s blog about the FACE assessment and the probable outcome of that, I would probably have to reduce my working hours. And the damages that Hillingdon were ordered by the court to pay Steven can be clawed back by Hillingdon from Steven if he becomes the tenant to cover his rent because he will fall into the same category as me as having “funds available”. It feels like 2010 all over again because whatever best interests argument I put, and heaven knows, I’ve got all those expert witness reports that state categorically that Steven should be in his own home with me, Hillingdon can just shrug their shoulders and fell back “on the regulations”.
Linda Saunders, our old friend from 2010, is not only director of adult social care but of housing as well, so I’ve considered appealing to her, whilst remembering that she authorised the “sorry” press release that sought to destroy Steven.
Under housing law, a council has no obligation to house someone if they deem you have made yourself “=intentionally homeless”; I don;t know that there is anything in law to cover the situation where the council intentionally makes you homeless. It feels like I’m in an old western movie and am being driven out-of-town!
I’m tired, very tired but it feels like a race against the clock to get something sorted for Steven before the 16th October. And then his life will really be in the lap of the gods, or in the lap of the Hillingdon gods. A friend just text me to say: “you’ve got to get away from this persecution”. I know it’s a strong word but that is exactly what this last two days feels like.
From → Social Care