A ‘BEDROOM TAX victim’ – saved from eviction in May by campaigners who surrounded his house with the bailiffs due – says he has now been effectively driven out of his 40-year-old home.
The case of unemployed Coventry man Archie Millar has concluded with him moving to Nuneaton where he says there is a better chance of a job and training.
Campaigners say the fight against the so-called Bedroom Tax goes on, and housing association landlord Whitefriars has offered to help resolve similar cases in future.
The 55-year-old had faced eviction from his home in St Margaret Road, Stoke, Coventry, after his mother died and he got into rent arrears from losing benefits from the Bedroom Tax, also known as the coalition government’s ‘spare bedroom subsidy’.
The policy reduced Housing Benefits to claimants deemed to have an extra room, or rooms, they did not need.
Mr Millar lost £25 of his £72-a-week Housing Benefit payments – as he was deemed to have two ‘spare rooms’ – and he was unable to pay all his rent.
His old family home has now been repossessed by Whitefriars after he racked up debts of more than £1,000 to the housing association.
Mr Millar says he is now set to start a computer training course and has registered on the Nuneaton and Bedworth housing list, while temporariliy staying with a friend.
He said: “Whitefriars did nothing for me, but I don’t blame them, I blame David Cameron and the government.
“I feel I was driven out of my home of 43 years.”
John Boadle, of campaign group Coventry Against the Bedroom Tax, whose protest at Archie’s home was seen by millions on TV and viral internet videos, said: “If Archie was determined to stay in his home of 40 years, we would have defended him till the cows come home.
“But the protest did give him space to find an alternative and he’s chosen to move on, fair enough.
“We have shown that peaceful direct action does work and we’ll do the same again if necessary.
“We’ve had a very positive response from people and there’s definitely a mood of resistance to austerity.
“Which is good because misery is in store for many if we don’t fight back.”
Mr Boadle said he and Mr Millar met with Whitefriars representatives after the attempted eviction, and it offered concessions including finding a smaller place for him, rather than him having to bid online for vacant properties in the usual way.
Whitefriars offered a £600 payment to ease his move, and said they would consider overlooking plumbing work in the house which they would normally expect the tenant to carry out before being transferred.
Archie later decided to move out of Coventry.
Conservatives in government claimed the policy was meant to encourage social housing tenants living in properties suddenly deemed too big for them to move to smaller properties – which would in turn free up larger social homes for larger families who need them.
Housing charities say that plan failed, not least because of a chronic shortage of larger social homes, and political opponents labelled the policy ‘cruel’ and ‘vindictive’.
Mr Boadle said anyone threatened with eviction due to cuts, or who wants to join the campaign, should get in touch via Coventry Against the Bedroom Tax on Facebook.