Benefits cuts leave our young workers struggling to pay bills

James Cocking
James Cocking

A SHOP worker has accused the Government of being ageist after his housing benefit was cut because he is not yet 35.

James Cocking, 30, used to get about £130 housing benefit every month to help him pay the rent for his flat in Market Rasen’s Queen Street. But now James has been left with just £9 a month.

This is because single 25 to 34–year–olds who and rent from a private landlord are now only entitled to the housing benefit rate for people living in shared accommodation.

James – who was already struggling to get by – is furious and thinks he is being punished for not being 35.

He said: “I’ve lived on my own for seven years and I was really annoyed when I found out what was happening.

“I think it’s ageism – I’m being punished for not being 35, it’s not my fault that I’m only 30.

“I’m trying to avoid moving out of my flat but I don’t know how I’m going to afford to pay for everything.

“How can it be fair to give someone living on their own a shared accommodation rate.

“I have to pay for everything myself, I don’t have anyone to share the bills with.”

James has a part–time job at McColl’s newsagent in Market Rasen, but usually works extra hours and says he still cannot afford to live.

He said: “I can’t afford to cut back in any other areas.

“I’ve already had to make cutbacks – I only go out once a month now and struggle to pay for basic things.

Market Rasen’s MP Edward Leigh said: “The previous Government’s failure to reform housing benefit left us in the absurd situation where some benefit claimants could claim over £100,000 a year to live in large houses in expensive areas.

“This is unacceptable when hard-working people are struggling either to find affordable private rents or pay their mortgages.

“The current Government’s reform of housing benefit has included discretionary housing payments in order to aid in the transition when housing benefit has been reduced.

“Not knowing the specific circumstances this gentleman finds himself in, I invite him to write or e-mail me so that we can see if there’s anything we can do for him.”