‘Pay £78 a week for heating and hot water’, disabled tenants in Holloway sheltered accommodation told

Disabled and elderly residents in sheltered housing at Belmore House have been charged an extra £65

Disabled and elderly residents in sheltered housing at Belmore House have been charged an extra £65 per week on electricity. Terry Oyston, Edward Scales, Lynne Hunt and Carlton Benoit - Credit: Archant

Disabled pensioners in Holloway were sent letters by their housing association threatening a 450 per cent increase in bills.

But after the Gazette got involved, more than a month after the letters were sent, Circle Housing did a U-turn and claimed the bills had been an admin error.

In a letter dated February 22 sent to Lynne Hunt, 60, of Belmore House in Camden Road, she was told she would be charged £78.12 a week for hot water and heating instead of the existing charge of £12.64 a week, with an estimated annual charge of £4,062.02. This is aside from her rent which is covered by housing benefit, plus an unchanged £6-a-week charge for “other” services.

Circle Housing now say revised bills will be sent out – but did not say what the “correct” charge would be.

“I was absolutely shocked and horrified,” Ms Hunt, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, told the Gazette.

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“If I had to pay that I’d be left with about £25 a week for food and the rest of my bills. There are 24 flats so if everyone paid that it would come to about £2,000. Are they telling me a communal boiler costs two grand a week?”

Carlton Benoit, 62, who suffers from diabetes and only has one leg, said he only found out about the increase when a neighbour brought it to his attention. “I thought: how can they do such a thing without coming to talk to you?” he said. “They expect us to just roll over. Normal people wouldn’t think to complain.”

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Circle Housing owned up to the mistake in a letter dated April 1, blaming an “administration error”. The amount had now been corrected, it said, adding residents would shortly receive revised letters.

Brett Mayne, regional head of service charges for Centra Care and Support, which is part of Circle Housing, said: “We immediately apologised and reassured our residents after this administrative error, as soon as we became aware of the mistake.”

But Ms Hunt claims she complained on March 24 when she was visited by a rent officer, and that no effort to amend the figure was made until she told Circle Housing she had contacted the Gazette.

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