Local UK authority dumps starving British expat pensioner on the streets

Published:  28 Aug at 6 PM
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A British pensioner who returned from living in Spain has been found starving and homeless on the streets after being refused local council housing by Bournemouth Borough Council.

David Sutcliffe, an 82 year-old British citizen, was picked up by local police after being spotted by a concerned member of the public who noticed he was severely malnourished and confused. Attending officers told the media the starving old man was found to be clutching a Bournemouth Borough Council letter informing him he had no entitlement to housing assistance. Police took him to Hope for Food, a local charity staffed by volunteers, and he’s now in bed-and-breakfast accommodation funded by public donations.

The charity’s founder, Clare Matthews, told the British media David had returned from two years of residence in Spain earlier this month with nothing but a carrier bag full of documents and the clothes he stood up in. He’d applied to the local council for housing assistance but was refused due to his inability to pass the Habitual Residence Test, and was sent out on the streets in a frail and confused state. Failing the mandatory test is being used as a justification for refusing social services as it implies the applicant has no intention of staying in the UK.

The council’s letter stated it had ‘carefully considered the facts of your application and found you ineligible for assistance. ‘This decision’, it added, ‘means the council does not have a duty to accommodate you’. Unsurprisingly, head of housing Kelly Ansell told reporters she would not comment on the council’s decision as it would be a breach of confidentiality. Ansell continued her justification of the heartless decision by saying the council works with partner agencies to ensure appropriate support is provided, whether or not a duty is applicable. She failed to explain exactly why David had ended up on the streets.

To date, local people have donated over £800 via a Facebook appeal towards the costs of keeping David in a B&B, but more is obviously needed. The publication of the scandal in Spain’s Olive Press English language newspaper is likely to cause anger and concern for many British expats who cut their ties with the UK when they emigrated, with no reason to believe their departure would not be as permanent as they intended. With Brexit looming, how many more returning British pensioners will be forced onto the streets by local authorities due to a situation not of their making?
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