The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 30th August 2013
LORRAINE Fraser, a severely disabled single mother, is about to become the first council tenant in Scotland to be evicted because of the bedroom tax — the cut in housing benefit for tenants deemed to have more bedrooms than they need.
Labour-run North Lanarkshire council, near Glasgow, took court action to force her out of her specially adapted home in Uddingston near Glasgow, after she fell into arrears of £248 with her rent after having her housing benefit reduced.
Lorraine Fraser has scoliosis — curvature of the spine — and arthritis and she is wheelchair- bound.
The council moved Lorraine into a specially adapted flat with a wheelchair ramp, wet room and handrails two years ago.
Lorraine, 46, said: “Where will I go? I need a specially adapted home just to survive. What kind of people would throw a disabled woman and her kids out on the street?
“They have no compassion or conscience.”
North Lanarkshire Council have sent Lorraine a series of hard-hitting letters, warning her that eviction proceedings are under way.
One letter dated 8th August says: “I can advise you that North Lanarkshire Council has commenced court action to evict you from your home.”
She has also been told she faces paying for the authority’s “considerable” legal costs.
Lorraine receives disability living allowance. And even before the bedroom tax, she struggled to pay her bills and feed her family.
When the hated tax was introduced in April, she was told she would have to pay an extra £62 in rent every month.
She was informed she was being targeted because she has two spare rooms.
But Lorraine is baffled because she shares her three-bedroom flat with her daughter Collette, 19, and son Mark, 17.
They are both students who live at home, although they also spend some time living with their dad, who is divorced from Lorraine.
Lorraine thought she still had a month left to fight her case because she was told in a letter that legal proceedings to evict her wouldn’t begin until 2nd September.
But she was devastated when the council’s letter on 8th August said they had already started court action.
Council housing officers visited her last week to go through the eviction process. 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 at the end of my tether. I have tried to explain to them that my children still live here.
“My son sometimes stays at his dad’s house because we are divorced but this is still his home.
“I feel angry, upset and totally helpless.”
Lorraine has called on the All Scotland Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation and Glasgow lawyer Gordon Dangerfield to help save her from eviction.
Meanwhile in Edinburgh council tenants affected by the bedroom tax are being told they should give up luxuries like cigarettes, alcohol, mobile phones and Sky television packages if they want to be considered for discretionary housing payments to help cover the cut in housing benefit.
People must reveal details of their exact outgoings before qualifying for the payments.
This is reminiscent of the worst aspects of the hated means test of the 1930s depression. Anti- bedroom tax campaigners have labelled the step “utter nonsense” and an “intrusion of privacy”.
And while the city’s vice-convener of housing, Cammy Day, said the unique crackdown is necessary to prevent the council’s oversubscribed DHP allocation from running out, he added he was “not comfortable” with the tough policy.
Cllr Day, whose Forth ward is one of the poorest in the city, said: “As a result of a policy imposed by the Conservative Party we are having to do this, otherwise our entire DHP allocation would have been spent in the first three months of the financial year.
“It is a horrible position to be in, having to make a judgement on people’s lifestyle choices.”
But city Tory group leader Cameron Rose backed the stance. He said: “I think people would expect that those seeking taxpayer money are asked to rein in their spending on luxuries. People make decisions on how they can afford to spend their money within households every day and I don’t think it’s a bad discipline to encourage.”