Travellers' housing benefits decision
A housing benefit wrangle that left travellers facing eviction from their homes has been settled.Families on the Romany Lane site in Kessingland, near Lowestoft, were shocked and angry when Waveney District Council announced it was considering cutting their benefit from an average of �70 to �33.
A housing benefit wrangle that left travellers facing eviction from their homes has been settled.
Families on the Romany Lane site in Kessingland, near Lowestoft, were shocked and angry when Waveney District Council announced it was considering cutting their benefit from an average of �70 to �33.50 per week, leaving them to meet the shortfall.
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The threat of the cut even spurred residents to stage a peaceful protest outside council offices in Lowestoft with one single mother, Natasha Lord, cradling her newborn baby.
But now the council has informed Ian and Jill Real, who run the site as a husband and wife team, that the amount of housing benefit will continue at the same average of �70 per week.
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Adrian Mills, the council's service manager, said they had been following a standard process as advised by the Department of Work and Pensions.
He said: 'We have been in negotiations with the Kessingland travellers' site, there isn't an issue anymore and the benefit will continue.
'We look at all sites and the rent that is charged because at the end of the day it's taxpayers' money. Everyone is satisfied now and the matter has been resolved.'
Mrs Real pointed out that a single person on Jobseekers' Allowance received about �50 a week so they would have had no hope of meeting the full rent.
Relieved that the wrangle had been settled, she said: 'It would have meant we would have to evict them or they would leave. Either way they could have ended up homeless. Some of the residents have lived on the site for a number of years.'
Mr Real, who has owned the site since 2001, said: 'I'm pleased the matter has been resolved but it is a shame it hasn't been sorted out sooner and that there wasn't more help at hand.
'It caused a lot of uncertainty and unrest and it is the first time I have seen all the site residents stand united when they protested last month.'
Sherry Bacon, who has lived on the site for more than 10 years and has three children, confirmed that none of the residents would have been in a position to pay the rent, set in the range of �65 to �75 by Suffolk County Council, without full benefit.