Unemployed Wisbech man teetering towards bankruptcy and homelessness in suicide threat

14:20 13 February 2013

Craig and Kim Howlett of Wisbech trying to find new accommodation.

Craig and Kim Howlett of Wisbech trying to find new accommodation.

Archant

A WISBECH man with debts of £86,000 and teetering towards bankruptcy says he will commit suicide rather than be put up in a hostel.

Craig and Kim Howlett – who have debts totalling £86,000 – are desperately looking for a new home before they are evicted.

Craig, 42, said: “Last week we went to the Fenland District Council One Stop Shop in Wisbech and there was a notice saying no Homelink packs were available, giving information about homes for rent.

“But we saw a foreign couple walk out with a pack, it made my wife cry. I feel that we are at a disadvantage.

“I feel like a second class citizen. I have told the council that if we are put in a hostel I will commit suicide. To see Eastern Europeans walk out with the pack was devastating.”

Craig and Kim, 50, both became unemployed last autumn, Craig had been a self employed builder and Kim, who is a long term sufferer of anxiety and depression, worked in a school.

Their debts started to mount up when they were still working, and they have received support from Christians against Poverty.

“Our landlord has also been great, but he is a businessman, and I think eviction is inevitable,” said Craig.

“The Christians have also been fantastic, taking us shopping once a fortnight. They are still helping us with debt advice and dealing with creditors.”

The couple, who haved lived in Wisbech for 14 years, receive benefits of £106 a week between them. They pay £1 a month off their rent arrears, but all the time their debt is growing.

Craig added: “I feel we are trapped at the moment, private landlords will not touch us because of our rent arrears of nearly £1,000; and Roddons Housing Association says we must show we are paying off our rent arrears before they can help us.

“Our application for a housing association property has been suspended because we have rent arrears, although we are about to re-apply.

“What we want is a new home and jobs, anywhere in the UK.”

A spokesman from Fenland council said: “There is no question of us discriminating in favour of immigrants – we treat everyone the same. In this case, there has obviously been some confusion about the way that Homelink works.

“You only get a new pack if you have never registered. If you are already on the register, as the Howletts are, you don’t get another pack, you have to re-register, which you can do online or in one of our shops.

“We are very sorry to hear of the Howletts’ circumstances and are keen to offer housing advice and assistance. We would urge them to call our housing options team on 01354 654321 as soon as possible to receive this.”

Jenny Hodson, Managing Director at Roddons Housing Association, commented:

“We accept applications from people with existing rent arrears if they can show us a repayment plan is in place. Where this is not the case we write to the applicant, advising them how to proceed and including guidance on where they can receive independent advice and assistance.

“We have written to Mr and Mrs Howlett advising them on the steps they can take to start clearing these arrears and where they can seek further help.”

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