An ex soldier has been forced to live in a tent in a garden — after being informed he is not entitled to benefits.
After serving in the first Gulf War, the Falklands, and Northern Ireland
during his 16 years in the army, John Heaps who is 50 has been told he
has failed the Department for Work and Pensions’ Habitual Residence
Left without aid, he has been forced to sleep in a good friend's garden in Leeds, West Yorks.
The father of two said: “I have always been of the opinion that
everybody is supposed to be treated as an individual but they do not
listen to each individual story.
“I think it stinks, it beggars belief. I have travelled the world but this is my place of birth and my home.
"Essentially all that’s happened is I’ve been on holiday.
“I am not demanding anything from them but I just want a bit of help while I search for a job.
"I have a birth certificate, a passport, I have my military record.
Since I left the Army I have worked in a variety of jobs and paid my taxes.
“I accept I haven’t put anything in for two years, but I also haven’t asked for anything either.
As far as I’m concerned I should be entitled to help.”
The Department for Work and Pensions exam is structured in a way to make
certain that only those with strong links to the UK are entitled to
John's mother and sister reside in the UK, as do his two brothers, both having served the Army with one still serving.
His father and grandfather were also former soldiers.
John added: “This wasn’t what I was hoping for when I came back home.
One of the first questions I was asked when I made my claim was ’Why
have you come to England?’
"But I’m English by birth and this is my home."
John was given a voucher for the measly sum of £55 from the state to
purchase clothing for a job interview, but other than that has only hand
me down clothing from friends and hot weather climate clothing from his
He said: “I’m still wearing shorts and T-shirts as my main form of
dress. I have a couple of T-shirts from my travels, a fleece from a
Spanish charity shop; my trainers were bought for me.
"My clothing is suitable for the warmer climates so I’m relying on generosity."
He has been to three different job interviews in the past week, but is
hoping the DWP will have a change of mind and his appeal is successful
so he can have financial support while he continues his search.
He added: “I have appealed but they said there is no guarantee of success. They are simply not listening at the moment.”
A spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “The
Habitual Residence Test ensures that income related benefits are paid to
people with reasonably close ties to the UK and who have an intention
to settle here.
"Anyone can appeal a decision and we will look at any new evidence they supply."
Visitors to this website will no doubt be angered and feel a
large degree of sympathy for the man, especially when news is broken on
the same day that a family of Somalis have been handed a luxury
£2million home in one of London’s most affluent streets.
The ten-strong tribe, on housing benefit and income support have been
allocated a council-owned Georgian house near where ex-PM Tony Blair
used to live.
One of the women living there said: “We are from Somalia. I don’t know how we got the house. We were lucky.”
It is estimated they pay £1,000 a month.
The four-storey property could receive up to eight times that amount of rent privately.
Constructers did almost £100,000 worth of refurbishments last year, including making two new bedrooms.
A neighbour commented: “These are dream homes for most people.”
Yesterday a man residing in the house, known as Mohamed, and aged 55,
stated that the family had been somewhat fortunate to get the home.
He said: “We were on the council waiting list. All adults in the home are on housing benefit and income support.
“There are ten of us. We have a nice garden and there’s wood flooring throughout.
We are lucky, but it’s a very big family. I had been in temporary housing for years before this. We are good people.”
Robert Oxley, Campaign Manager of the Taxpayers’’ Alliance, blasted the
council last night for “blowing its budget renovating a single home”.
He added: “Lots of taxpayers would love to live in a mansion, but have to opt for what they can afford.”
A spokesman for the council further commented: “This home has been
owned by the council for many years and is currently let to a family who
were in great housing need.”
With ten of them in a family and every single adult on Housing
Benefit and Income Support, why these people are never asked if they can
support themselves before given a free for all upon entry into this
country is a disgrace and only the British National Party will put
British subjects first and foremost.
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