A Buckhaven man who faced having his children put into care and also the possibility of serving a jail sentence has been given a reprieve – thanks to the East Fife Mail.
Our front-page story last week told how Boyd Lamont, of Randolph Street, had his housing benefits savagely cut from £98 per week to just 50p following the introduction of a new benefit cap by the Conservative government.
But following the publication of Boyd’s story, he was contacted by Fife Council to say that his latest application for a Discretionary Housing Benefit had been approved – and he gives credit for this to the impact our front page made.
Boyd said: “Normally the application for this payment takes four weeks to process, but I heard from them the very next day.
“The letter they sent me said that this would allow me to carry on paying my fine. Now I hadn’t mentioned that in the application so someone must have read the article!
“They had always turned me down before.”
“The payment is for the next six months, so after that I need to re-apply.
“Of course they could turn me down next time and I’ll be back at square one – I know they don’t have an endless pot of money there – but this gives me some breathing space and time to plan what to do next.
“This means I now don’t have to go up in front of the judge and my children won’t go into care.
“It’s a massive relief.
“I’m still living off my children’s money which isn’t ideal, but hopefully in this next six months I’ll be able to find a job and get out of the benefit cap system.”
The cut to his benefits meant that Boyd was unable to meet his fortnightly payment of £140 to his fine of £20,000, which he received in 2008 following the tragic death of his employee following an industrial accident.
Boyd was offered the fine or one year in prison.
He said: “Had I been on my own I’d have taken the prison sentence but I had my five children to look after.
“The accident is always on my mind, it’s never left me.”
He is now looking to the future. “I really need to thank the East Fife Mail, on behalf of myself and my children. We’re now able to stay together.”
Les Robertson, head of revenue and commercial services, said: “We have a Discretionary Housing Payment fund which we can use to help pay the rent of those most in need. We’re discussing the options with Mr Lamont and hope to be able to help him after the recent cap to his housing benefit.”