Plea to Tower Hamlets councillors not to make ‘bedroom tax’ evictions

A GPs receptionist made redundant a year ago and now living on jobseekers’ allowance wept as she pleaded with councillors to make a pledge not to evict tenants in rent arrears.

Audrey Aymer, 54, is one of 2,800 households in London’s depressed East End facing so-called “bedroom tax” arrears because she’s living alone in a two-bedroom flat after her son moved away and can’t afford the extra rent.

She was one of a delegation addressing Wednesday’s Tower Hamlets Council meeting with a petition urging the authority not to evict anyone hit by benefit changes.

“The government is putting people back into depression,” she said. “We can’t cope because we’re stressed out by the pressure.”

Audrey, who lost her job at a surgery in Shadwell last year, has already had housing officials call at her flat on Whitechapel’s Collingwood Estate suggesting she “down sizes” because her son no longer lives there.

She said after the meeting: “I’m trying to get back to work and am living on £71 weekly jobseekers’ allowance.

“But they want me to pay £41 rent which would leave me with £30—that’s not enough to live on with food bills and gas and electric to pay for. I will go into arrears and could face eviction.”

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She was one of the campaigners lobbying councillors to make a pledge not to evict those in rent areas caused by benefit changes.

Campaign co-ordinator Eileen Short from Tower Hamlets Benefits Justice told councillors: “Evicting people doesn’t create one new home—it only relocates the misery. We are asking you to stand with the community against the injustice being perpetrated.”

But there was widespread support across the council. Cabinet member for Housing Rabina Khan and Deputy Mayor Ohid Ahmed signed the petition during the lobby.

Cllr Khan said: “It’s not in our vested interest to make anyone homeless through eviction caused by bedroom tax. To evict someone would cost more.”

It costs up to £16,000 a household to evict somebody in arrears, then there is a duty to rehouse those evicted, campaigners pointed put. Their petition has been handed to the authority’s social services director.