Bedroom tax tenant told: ‘Sell your telly’

Protests against the Council Tax
Protests against the Council Tax

A TENANT in Kirkcaldy has claimed she was left in tears after “intimdating” council staff demanded she cough up bedroom tax arrears.

Mandy Fairgrieve (58), of Adamson Avenue has accrued a £340 bill since the tax came into force on April 1 - and was advised to sell her telly to meet the cost.

She said: “I was phoned by a council officer who asked me was I aware of how much I owe in arrears and how did I intend to pay? I found the call very intimidating.

“I’m at my wits end because of the bedroom tax . I’ve been a council tenant for 40 years and have never owed them a penny in all that time. I just broke down in tears after the call.”

Ms Fairgrieve applied for a discretionary housing payment through Fife Council.

“They told me to sell my television, music centre, dvds and cds. They even counted in my DLA as part of my income which they’re supposed to ignore. The whole system is rotten to the core,” she said.

The bedroom tax was introduced this year by central government as part of cuts in social security benefits.

People of working age with one extra bedroom must meet 14 per cent of their rent; 25 per cent for two or more rooms. Louise McLeary of the Kirkcaldy Anti-Bedroom Tax Campaign claimed people were being told to get rid of their dogs, telephones and, in the case of a woman with a severely disabled husband, her car.

She commented: “People are feeling very vulnerable – they don’t need officials phoning them at their homes demanding money.”

Louise Sutherland, service manager Fife Council said: “We are sorry to hear Mrs Fairgrieve’s concerns, but we would like to stress our staff are trained to be polite, helpful and give advice to any customer including those who are dealing with the impact of the welfare reform changes.

“We want to hear from tenants who are having problems paying their rent and would urge anyone who finds themselves in that position to get in touch with us as soon as they can.”