Hartlepool dad who made impassioned plea to PM over bedroom tax told ‘to get a smaller house’

William Ryan
William Ryan

A FORMER businessman made an impassioned plea to the Prime Minister fatre he was left with £130 of rent arrears due to the controversial bedroom tax.

But David Cameron - who pledged to look at each individual case - snubbed William Ryan’s call for help and told him to “make some realistic choices”.

William appeared in the Mail telling how he lived on just 99p each day after paying his bills from his £71.31 Employment and Support Allowance.

But after the bedroom tax was introduced in April, he immediately fell into debt and after being left owing £130 he contacted town MP Iain Wright, who wrote to the PM on his behalf.

But his hopes that his case would be listened to fell on deaf ears when Mr Wright received a letter back dismissing the cry for help.

Desperate William said: “It’s the first time in my life I have been in arrears - but it’s simply because I can’t pay the money.”

The Prime Minister said he “noted Mr Ryan’s concerns”, but palmed William off to the local authority urging him to enquire about Discretionary Housing Payments.

William has done that, but is yet to receive any response.

William, 55, who lives in a two-bedroomed flat in Tiverton Grove, in Hartlepool, was told he must pay around £11.83 a week following the introduction of the Government’s much criticised welfare reforms in April.

But so far he hasn’t been able to pay a penny because he says if he was to cough up the cash for the bedroom tax, he would be left with no money to buy food each week.

“I’m roughly around £130 in arrears,” said William who once ran a sportswear firm in the town and employed 10 people.

“I have barely nothing left every week, if I paid the bedroom tax I wouldn’t have the money to eat.

“I just wish the Government could see what was going on.”

The Government introduced the controversial tax in April this year which saw social housing tenants in employment and those in receipt of housing benefits have their payments cut by around £13 each week for one bedroom or £22 for two.

At the time William, who suffers with osteo-artritis of the spine, asked for a flat with one bedroom to avoid paying the tax but was told there wasn’t any available.

William pays weekly bills of £1.37 council tax, £12 electricity, £15 gas, £2.98 television licence, £7.20 Child Support Allowance, £5 for travel, £4 for clothing and laundry, and £5 to top up his mobile phone. If he was to pay the bedroom tax that would leave him with £6.93 a week without even buying any food so instead he spends the money on small and simple meals. It leaves him with just 99p each day.

With growing concerns over his financial worries, he organised a meeting with Hartlepool MP Mr Wright who set out William’s plight in a letter to Downing Street.

In his response Mr Cameron said he had “noted Mr Ryan’s concerns” but went on to say: “The underlying principle behind this policy is not to force people into moving, but for people who are under-occupying to make the same realistic choices about affordability as those living in the private sector.

“Individuals may choose to remain where they are in housing that is larger than they need and fund any shortfall themselves. Some may increase their hours of work or find work, take in a lodger or seek their landlord’s permission to sublet part of their property, without needing to move.”

Mr Cameron said he notes Mr Ryan’s concerns about the lack of affordable accommodation, but claims the Government have a “comprehensive strategy in place to increase the numbers of new homes for rent”.

William said: “I have done all sorts, everything I can to try and get my point across.

“When I get a letter saying ‘pay or you are out’ I have absolutely no idea what I am going to do.”