Elderly tenants paying fortune to heat freezing social housing

Ellen and Bruce Wilkinson say their New Linx property costs �60 a week to heat and is causing them health problems.
Ellen and Bruce Wilkinson say their New Linx property costs �60 a week to heat and is causing them health problems.
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Elderly residents in Chapel St Leonards say substandard social housing is costing them a fortune in heating bills, causing health problems and making their lives a misery.

Ellen and Bruce Wilkinson have lived in their New Linx Housing Trust bungalow on East View Close for the past four years and are at their wits’ end with their ‘awful’ living conditions.

“During winter it’s absolutely freezing, we spend £60 a week on electricity but we still have to sit shivering under a blanket, which is ridiculous in this day in age - we’re only asking for a bit of comfort,” said 68-year-old Ellen.

The arthritic pensioner claims other bungalows along the street, most of which are also inhabited by elderly residents, are just as bad, if not worse.

She claims the persistent cold and damp causes wallpaper to peel, leaves black marks on walls and windows and gives her and Bruce constant chest infections.

Ellen had all but given up on resolving the problem until her county councillor Colin Davie called past and after seeing the state of the property first hand promised to escalate the issue with New Link.

She said: “He has done in a day, what they couldn’t do in four years.”

Coun Davie agreed that it is unacceptable to have people living in such ‘substandard’ conditions and believes East Lindsey District Council, should ensure social housing providers offer better quality homes.

He said: “Having viewed Mrs Wilkinson’s property it is clearly very substandard with damp clearly visible throughout.

“The elderly suffer chronic illness in the winter months from damp in their homes and it is totally unacceptable for any landlord to be profiting from the misery of others.

“I will be taking the matter up with New Linx personally but the district council, who have recently pursued a number of private landlords over poor rental properties now need to focus their attention onto social housing providers, who are housing some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.”

New Linx received complaints about dampness from the Wilkinsons in January 2012 but has no record of anything since.

Having now heard their latest concerns, director of operations Jack Whyman said humidity and temperature monitors will be installed today (Wednesday) to gauge the extent of the problem, which New Linx will then look into resolving.

Though happy to investigate the issues, Mr Whyman believes electricity costs of £60 per week are not unusual during winter for elderly tenants who spend most of their time at home.

He said: “Heating is a significant expense for all our tenants and we advise them to make sure they are on the most effective tariff.”

Other East View Close tenants have raised complaints in the past, which Mr Whyman says were investigated and resolved with replacement radiators.

“We can only respond to the complaints that are made,” he explained.

Mr Whyman also claims the properties’ where tenants have allowed New Linx to carry pout improvements, are better insulated than many in the private sector.