.
Martyn Bradley
 

‘Future-proofing’ move causes shattering choice

Martyn, who is a wheelchair user, feels he is ‘living in limbo’ after finding out his housing benefit will be cut by 14%. He faces a choice between letting his carers go or downsizing to a new area – either of which would shatter his wellbeing and independence.

Martyn moved into his two-bedroom bungalow seven years ago. As he is paralysed from the chest down, it has had a number of major adaptations – including ramps, widened doorways, and a hi-tech bathroom – and the kitchen was next on the list. “Living here was the council’s idea – they said it was ‘future proofing’, so I’d have an extra room if I ever needed a live-in carer. I never thought bedroom tax would affect me – when I got the letter I couldn’t believe it.”

The idea of moving is unthinkable for Martyn. After his father died in 2011 he has relied on his sister and brother, who both live nearby, and his neighbours for support. “Moving away would be extremely difficult – there wouldn’t be anyone around to help me. Everyone knows me in the village, and I’ve got a life here – I have lunch with my brother, then go to the gym.”

The benefit cut means Martyn will have to find an extra £80 per month. He has also been informed he must start contributing £67 a week towards his care – a decision he is fighting. A Discretionary Housing Payment awarded by West Berkshire Council has provided some support, though Martyn has been told it’s highly unlikely he’ll receive one next year so he should look for somewhere else to live. The uncertainty this has created is causing a great deal of stress.

“I can’t relax in my home – I feel it could be taken away from me. The kitchen adaptations were full steam ahead, but they’ve been put on hold because no-one knows how long I’ll be here. I can’t live like this, I keep burning myself and having accidents.”

Martyn has found his Sovereign tenancy support advisor very helpful. “She did a financial assessment, and helped me fill out the forms for the DHP. She also gave me guidance on money management, and we’re applying for a grant from my energy supplier which will hopefully ease my bills.”

He has no idea what he’ll do next year, however, when the DHP comes to an end. “I’ll have to find the money somewhere. But my only option seems to be getting rid of my carers – and I can’t do without them. My dad would have supported me through this, but he’s not here any more. I was having counselling already, and now I’ve been referred for higher level support. This hasn’t helped.”

Sovereign is helping residents prepare for and cope with the changes resulting from welfare reform in a number of ways. These include:

  • providing general information about the changes to benefits
  • contacting any household that may be affected, helping them investigate their options and providing advice
  • offering a more flexible range of rent payment choices
  • making it easier to exchange or transfer to a smaller home
  • helping people find ways to manage their money and boost their income.

 


“Living here was the council’s idea – they said it was ‘future proofing’, so I’d have an extra room if I ever needed a live-in carer…”



“We take the welfare of our residents seriously and are making sure that we are well prepared to
help you deal with the impact of welfare reform.”