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Starved by benefit changes

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: April 25, 2013

  • Peter Boor. PZPM20130418B-003_C.JPG

Comments (6)

A PENZANCE man suffering from a debilitating condition has said he can no longer afford to eat after changes to his council tax benefits.

Peter Boor, 57, has been claiming benefits and council tax relief since being diagnosed with ME, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome.

Now, however, he says the decision by Cornwall Council to make every household pay at least 25 per cent of its council tax has left him severely out of pocket.

"With the changes, that's £25 a month, which is half of my money towards food," he said. "I haven't had a cooked meal for nearly a week because I can't afford it. It's criminal."

Mr Boor lives in a one- bedroom flat in Tolver Place and has been on benefits since 2008. He told The Cornishman he lost his job and hadn't been able to work during this time because of ME, which often left him confined to his bed.

Given housing benefit of £436 plus Employment and Support Allowance of £284, he said the cash was just about stretching to cover bills and food.

"It has been bearable up until the changes," he said, "but now they want me to find an extra £25 per month. I'm just eating beans on toast and bread and butter.

"I'm just being told to find somewhere cheaper to live but there isn't much cheaper around. I'm in a ground-floor flat in a pretty quiet area so I can get the rest I need."

Volunteering one day a week in a charity shop, Mr Boor said he would like a job but it would be difficult to find work, adding: "I might be able to find a job but finding an employer who says, 'Come in when you're able' isn't realistic."

The Government announced last year that local authorities would be required to create their own localised council tax support schemes.

A spokeswoman for Cornwall Council said that at the same time funding was cut by 12.5 per cent – leaving Cornwall with a £4.2 million shortfall.

"As the council was required to protect pensioners from any reduction in council tax support, members reluctantly approved a recommendation that all working-age recipients of council tax support should pay at least 25 per cent towards their council tax," they said.

"We recognise this has created additional pressures and have set up a number of schemes to provide support."

For more information, visit www.cornwall.gov.uk or call the council on 0300 1234121.

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  • break  |  April 26 2013, 12:09AM

    This is as much the fault of the system as much as it is the councils,politicians as a whole seem there more to serve themselves than they are to serve the public.It may be that some people do live a lavish lifestyle from living on beneficts,but if the public face a pay cut,then so should politicans,they could probably save a million quid just by changing toilet roll brands.As for councils and governments breaking the law,they are the law.They can do as they like,no-one's got enough money to be able to afford to take them to court,plus they would probably make it difficult for the people involved.This government seems determined to try to get blood from a stone.

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  • Kate_Cody  |  April 25 2013, 1:51PM

    And whilst I fully sympathise with people affected by the benefit cuts, having seen many cases of people in genuine hardship.... in this case the full booze cabinet and tin of chocolates in the background doesn't help when you're saying that you can't afford to eat.

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  • Kate_Cody  |  April 25 2013, 1:45PM

    Needs to get some benefit advice, if has been unable to work since 2008 should not still be in reciept of the assessment amount of ESA. If has had medical and been found not fit for work then should be getting at least £100 per week.

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  • Chelz65  |  April 25 2013, 11:33AM

    This is so sad. Unlike the 'Bedroom Tax' where it is actually a 'cut' in the housing benefit, this new Scheme 'Council Tax Support' (CTS) means that people previously on 100% Council Tax Benefit (CTB) now have to find an amount from their 'Everyday Needs' benefits. When the DWP awards someone a benefit, it states on the said award Letter, that, "This is the amount of money the Law deems you NEED to live on". If that was the case, prior to April 1st how can anyone find this CTS now? I would like to point out that yes, there is a Transitional Award Fund given to the Council from Central Govt to help people with the new CTS. Sadly ONE Cllr and TWO officers of the Council made the decision to 'Cap' this relief to just 50%!!! To my knowledge, this was NOT put to Council or passed by Council. Is that Legal??? For people to find money from nowhere is beyond me. People are given CTB because their incomes are so low that they need help. Some Councils have absorbed this elsewhere but not Cornwal Council, they have almost gone to the maximum allowed of 30%. Would this be because they were in so much debt at the beginning of the financial year that now the poorest in society are having to PAY for CC's mistakes???

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  • dongcopter  |  April 25 2013, 11:00AM

    Second Homes Double Council Tax, second homes used as a business at ANY point of the year business rates and double Council Tax. Problem solved!

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  • KJHXXX  |  April 25 2013, 8:57AM

    As I've said a few times on TiC, this is disgraceful Cornwall Council (and others). You should be ashamed of yourselves. The poorest and most vulnerable in society are having to make decisions like food, or heat or council tax. The 100% exemption was a life line to those that had no money and now they are faced with CCJ / Bailiffs if they don't pay. Kick someone when they are down why don't you? Here's some common sense ideas - Why not increase the revenue from expensive properties to make up the shortfall, or maybe add some extra bands to council tax for very expensive properties, cut costs from non-essential services, realise that like everyone in the private sector, council pensions are going to have to take bit of a hit? I hope people realise what's going on here and VOTE the current council and the hangers on out at the earliest opportunity.

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