CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

I’ve paid my dues but now need help and fear for the future

11 April, 2019

• I’M a 68-year-old pensioner who moved to Hampstead 26 years ago when my daughter was awarded a bursary to become a pupil at a local school. I had just left an abusive marriage without a job and very little money.

Having done a Montessori teacher training course for young children (which I was unable to complete) I managed to get some part-time work as a relief teaching assistant. At the time I also undertook some voluntary work at the Royal Free Hospital.

I eventually found work at an estate agent where I worked for 13 years. I worked hard and was making a decent living. But in April 2016 I was the victim of age discrimination and lost my job.

I have brought up my daughter single-handedly, which wasn’t always easy, especially in our first few years living in Hampstead. The point of this letter is to highlight the plight of people such as myself.

I have paid my council tax to Camden without fail for 26 years. I pay my taxes. I am now struggling financially and have been for some time and have applied for housing benefit.

Through the kindness of my landlords I’ve managed to get my rent reduced, as Camden said this might help my housing benefit entitlement. From an “award” from them of £11.62 per week, they have just informed me that they will “award” me £19.69 per week. This is not a fair award.

Surely, after 26 years of paying my dues, Camden should assist a fully-paid-up resident within the community and make a decent and fair contribution towards my rent. I am at a loss what to do next. In addition to a very meagre wage, from a part-time job, I am only getting my state pension.

My private pension was swallowed up (lost – call it what you will) when my ex-husband went bankrupt for the second time and his company went into liquidation. When I called him about it he just told me that it was “long gone”!

Having lived here for so long, I know many people who do not and have not worked in all the years I have known them, yet they are living virtually (if not entirely) rent-free.

All I am asking is for fair treatment. I am terrified of what the future may hold. All I want is a roof over my head. I asked if I could go on a waiting list for a council flat, but evidently I do not have enough “points”, that is, I am not being abused, I am not disabled and not (yet) homeless.

Do the council want to wait until I am homeless, until I am just another statistic they have to deal with? I know I cannot be the only person who is being passed over as an “inconvenience”, but I am truly in need of assistance from a wealthy council who should do better for their residents who are in need.

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