Under-Occupancy

Got a panicked call from Mum. Katie moved to Newcastle last year to go to Uni (after half gap year and Further Ed because her A levels weren’t good enough, like she’s ever going to stick with anything and finish Uni) and has been living with Dad. No one made the adjustment to Katie’s official residence, as all her Uni docs go to Mum’s house not Dad’s. Well, somehow the council got wind of the fact that Katie is officially living in Newcastle (I think maybe Dad put her on the voting registrar, or even if that matters, I don’t know but no one is confessing) and Mum is living alone in a three bedroom council house.

She was told she is ‘under-occupancy’ by two bedrooms (the council never quite clicked that I haven’t lived there since the summer of 2010), and she’s going to have to move to a one-bedroom or lose 25% in a Housing Benefit. I think.

To be honest, I’m not positive that mum has all the facts straight, because I looked it up and there is some sort of loop hole for those in residence since 1996. And she should have received a notice letter a year ago saying she was at risk. But she does tend to get muddled when she’s flustered.

She called the council in a panic, and they said that it’s a really long waiting list to get a one-bedroom council flat, but she could look further afield. Except, that would mean she couldn’t get to work as easily and commuting in that part of England would eat up the little income she makes. So moving outside the area isn’t really an option. Someone at the council said that she has to move, even if she has no where else to go, or lose 25%.

I guess she could go full time at work, but I don’t think they have the hours, or she would have done that already. Or she could look for another job, but she loves that shop. She’s mates with them all and she’s really comfortable there.

I looked it up, and if Katie had kept mum’s house as her main residence, then mum would only be over occupancy by one bedroom, which means she’d just have a 12% penalty. But, that’s still pretty steep when you only make barely above minimum wage and work part time.

Plus, mum raised us kids in this house. It’s her home. She takes really good care of it, she’s does pay a high rent (not including Housing Benefit), and well, it’s worth saying again. It’s her home.

Yes, I understand there may be a young family on the waiting list for a three bedroom house, and it’s not fair that Mum doesn’t need all her bedrooms. But, telling people to ‘get out or else’ isn’t a solution either.

We don’t know what to do. Then again, I’m not sure if mum correct about what’s going on. No point in panicking now. I’ll have to call the council tomorrow myself.

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2 responses to “Under-Occupancy

  1. She could take lodgers, I think. This bedroom tax has been a scandal up and down the country, I’m surprised you missed it, but then, Scotland probably doesn’t do it.

    • Lodgers. Of course. Hadn’t thought of that. I’ll talk to her about it. Thanks! I think we just missed it because I’m not on Housing Benefit and my mum just got lucky no one noticed I wasn’t living there.

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