Tuesday 27 July 2021

Unemployed couple on welfare face eviction with three cats, 40 fish and a tortoise

NEWS AND VIEWS: Simon and Joanne Graham live in Gloucester, UK and they are both on 'welfare' to use an American term or 'benefits' to use a British term. Their entire income is from welfare payments from the local authority. They appear to live in private rented accommodation but the landlord has successfully applied to evict them because he is changing the flat to other uses which is one of the grounds for eviction in the UK.

Simon and Joanne Graham with two of their 3 cats one of which appears to be a Ragdoll
Simon and Joanne Graham with two of their 3 cats one of which appears to be a Ragdoll. Photo: Samuel Port.

The local authority will not rehouse them until they are homeless. In this instance that means Simon and Joanne and their menagerie including three cats have to be on the street with all their furniture and other possessions before the council will consider rehoming them.

In the meantime, they have been offered temporary housing but they say they need assistance with respect to their animals. The report in The Mirror states that the council has offered "nothing for their animals". They going to have to put their cats in a boarding cattery while they are homeless and until they are rehomed which they say will cost £150 a week. They cannot afford those outgoings. They have found someone to take fish temporarily.

They will be evicted on July 31. The council understand that they are in receipt of universal credit, personal independence payment (PIP) and I'm going to presume that they also receive housing benefit to pay the rent on their privately rented flat.

Comment: it seems that the rules for payment of benefits and the rules for homing people in council properties do not meet this couple's requirements. Simon Graham had a brain injury in a car accident. We are not told whether Joanne can work. It is difficult to comment because their predicament does beg the question as to whether they could do more for themselves such as find some work. But I don't know whether that's viable or not. They might contact Cats Protection which is a very large cat rescue organisation manned by volunteers who foster cats. They may be able to foster their cats temporarily while they waited for the council to provide them with suitable housing.

You could argue if you were being a bit tough that Simon and Joanna are not really in a position to have this many animals as they are living entirely on benefits. To have three cats living in a flat while you are both unemployed surviving on welfare is a bit of a stretch. It is placing demands on yourself which could be avoided. You could argue, without wishing to be mean, that one cat would suffice. And it seems that one of the cats is a purebred Ragdoll (held by Graham).

I, for one, have always limited myself to one cat because I don't want the responsibility of looking after more than one cat at this time in my life. It is a matter of self-discipline at the end of the day. And I could afford to support hundreds of cats if I wanted to.

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