‘I’m living on just £4-a-week…’ – Cash-strapped tenant left penniless after two-year wait for smaller council house


Disabled gran Veronica Smith has told how she is struggling to survive on £4-a-week – after waiting more than two years for a new council house.

The 55-year-old has wanted to move to a smaller two-bedroom bungalow ever since husband David’s cancer death.

She suffers with multiple health conditions which affect her mobility, cause extreme anxiety and leave her at high risk of a stroke or heart attack.

But Veronica is struggling to make ends meet after losing her £90-a-month Disability Living Allowance payment more than a year ago and running up a £131 utilities debt.

Veronica Smith with her grandson

The rent payment on her current three-bedroom Smallthorne council house is £85-a-week – and she receives just £53-a-week in housing benefit. Her discretionary housing payments run out in April and she is also affected by the bedroom tax.

Veronica said: “I just can’t afford to stay here. My husband put a lot of hard work into this house, I like it.

“I just have to do without. I’ve got in a mess with the gas and electric. If I can afford to put it on, it goes on. If I can’t, I do without. I’ve been left with £8 to live off a fortnight.

“I’m at high risk of a stroke or heart attack, I’ve got osteoarthritis in the knees and arthritis in the hips.

“I appreciate that two-bedroom bungalows are in very short supply. But it is horrendous duck, absolutely horrendous.

“I’ve got to stay in Smallthorne because of my anxiety.”

Veronica is being supported by her sister Linda Dudley.

Linda said: “She’s been put through more anxiety on the back of David’s death. She could do without it. I know other people lose people, but at the same time it’s another thing on top of everything else.

“My beef has always been that if there isn’t a property for them to go to then don’t punish someone. Tenants want to get out of the bedroom tax but they can’t because of a lack of houses.”

Stoke-on-Trent City Council says it experiences a lot of demand for its housing.

Inside Veronica Smith’s Smallthorne council house

Councillor Joanne Powell-Beckett, cabinet member for housing, said: “We always work as much as possible to match residents’ requests regarding where they would like to live, however, unfortunately no properties have become available to meet Mrs Smith’s requests.

“We experience a lot of demand for our housing, and have asked Mrs Smith to consider looking at a wider geographical area to improve the chances of getting the accommodation she would like.

“While Mrs Smith is waiting for a property to become available we are working with her to support her with her financial situation.”





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