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Just days after being evicted from her home, the body of Margaret Blenman was discovered by a fisherman close to Brighton Marina at around 06:30 on November 19th last year. Ms Blenman, 48, had been struggling to pay her rent after having to pay the heavily-detested ‘Bedroom Tax’, introduced by the Tories in April 2013.
The foster carer could not cope with spiraling debts when she was forced to pay the tax when a spare room for children she fostered became vacant. Her housing benefits were also slashed by 14%, and by the 17th November 2017 she was evicted from her property – a two-bedroom home in Romanfield Road, Streatham Hill, London.
The ‘Bedroom Tax’ policy was supposed to encourage council tenants living in houses ‘too big for their needs’ to move to smaller properties so that existing housing stock can be better used.
In a report published by the Independent in 2013, there are no spare houses in the social housing sector for 96% of tenants affected by the ‘Bedroom Tax’.
Ms Blenman would have been faced with two options once the tax came into effect – find a smaller, but more expensive property in the private rented sector, or, stay where she was and pay up. By cutting her vital support, the Tories failed Ms Blenman, as they have failed many thousands with this malicious and despicable tax.
It is alleged that Ms Blenman had told housing officers on the day of her eviction they were “lucky not to find a dead body”, an inquest at Brighton and Hove Coroner’s Court heard.
Housing provider Optivo’s head of area Jackie Pauley told the court:
“When housing officers and bailiffs arrived she said they were lucky to find her and not a dead body. It isn’t uncommon for people to say things like that. After that she was quite upset when officers entered with the bailiff. She said she didn’t know how things had got that far. She became incredibly calm and left. When the housing officers came back to the office they said something didn’t feel right.
They called her to ask her if she had managed to get to the council [for emergency housing] but there was no answer to their calls.”
Her family will take some comfort from the peace of mind she found when visiting Brighton. Ms Blenman’s sister stated:
“My sister use to come here to find solace and peace in her head, so I think that’s the reason why she decided to come here. It is a peaceful, nice place and now it is a special place for us as a family now.”
Ms Blenman was described as “loving, caring and kind” by her family – who added that she enjoyed reading and listening to music, but liked her own space.
Ms Blenman’s family are appealing to hotels or guest houses who could help locate her suitcase or give any information about her time in Brighton, from November 17 to 19, 2017.
Anyone with information can email Andre Rhoden-Paul who broke the story in The Argus at firstname.lastname@example.org who will pass on details to her family.
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