OAPs celebrate win over charges hike

VICTORIOUS pensioners are celebrating today after they fought tooth-and-nail to win a u-turn which will save them nearly £300 a year.In a victory for grey-power, the plucky pensioners refused to accept a potential rise of £578 in their annual living costs.

VICTORIOUS pensioners are celebrating today after they fought tooth-and-nail to win a u-turn which will save them nearly £300 a year.

In a victory for grey-power, the plucky OAPs refused to accept a potential rise of £556 in their annual living costs.

Seventy-eight pensioners in sheltered accommodation across Ipswich were told by the borough council their bills would increase because of a problem over a Subsidised People charge which is funded by the government.

However the OAPs rebelled over the price hikes and Ipswich Borough Council, which runs the sheltered accommodation finally relented, agreeing to review its policy.


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This means there will now be an increase of just £5.16 a week for the OAPs instead of the £11.12 a week they were originally told.

Derick Bentley, who has lived in Morecambe Court in Roundwood Road for about six years, said he was “over the moon” after the climbdown.

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He said: “This is a massive difference to people on a fixed income. When we first got a letter about this year's rent we saw that we were facing a massive 15 per cent increase in charges which is enormous.

“We tried to get them to listen to us and finally contacted The Evening Star (to complain) so this is a beautiful victory for the underdogs.”

Eric Symonds, 81, who has lived in Morecambe Court with his wife Freda for six years, said: “I'm happy that it has changed and that is a help but I still think it's ridiculous that they ever put it up so much in the first place because I'm on a fixed income.

“It has caused me worry because I didn't know where I would get the money from.”

Richard Dowling, IBC head of housing, said: “We are sorry for any inconvenience to those affected.”

Mr Dowling said prior the government cutting the Supporting People grant, the council was covering 50 per cent of the charge for those who moved into sheltered accommodation before April 2003. Now it was faced with covering around 75 per cent of the charge.

Part of wording of Ipswich Borough Council's letter to residents confirming the final price increase:

Kevin Barnes, sheltered housing manager at Ipswich Borough Council, wrote: “After consultation with a number of residents it has been recognised that the residents receiving a subsidised Supporting People charge were being disadvantaged.

“We have reviewed the way these charges were calculated on the letter and the difficulties faced by tenants in receipt of the subsidy and will therefore continue the current rate of subsidisation into next year.

He added: “I apologise for any confusion caused.”

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