Starved by benefit changes
A PENZANCE man suffering from a debilitating condition has said he can no longer afford to eat after changes to his council tax benefits.
Peter Boor, 57, has been claiming benefits and council tax relief since being diagnosed with ME, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome.
Now, however, he says the decision by Cornwall Council to make every household pay at least 25 per cent of its council tax has left him severely out of pocket.
"With the changes, that's £25 a month, which is half of my money towards food," he said. "I haven't had a cooked meal for nearly a week because I can't afford it. It's criminal."
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Mr Boor lives in a one- bedroom flat in Tolver Place and has been on benefits since 2008. He told The Cornishman he lost his job and hadn't been able to work during this time because of ME, which often left him confined to his bed.
Given housing benefit of £436 plus Employment and Support Allowance of £284, he said the cash was just about stretching to cover bills and food.
"It has been bearable up until the changes," he said, "but now they want me to find an extra £25 per month. I'm just eating beans on toast and bread and butter.
"I'm just being told to find somewhere cheaper to live but there isn't much cheaper around. I'm in a ground-floor flat in a pretty quiet area so I can get the rest I need."
Volunteering one day a week in a charity shop, Mr Boor said he would like a job but it would be difficult to find work, adding: "I might be able to find a job but finding an employer who says, 'Come in when you're able' isn't realistic."
The Government announced last year that local authorities would be required to create their own localised council tax support schemes.
A spokeswoman for Cornwall Council said that at the same time funding was cut by 12.5 per cent – leaving Cornwall with a £4.2 million shortfall.
"As the council was required to protect pensioners from any reduction in council tax support, members reluctantly approved a recommendation that all working-age recipients of council tax support should pay at least 25 per cent towards their council tax," they said.
"We recognise this has created additional pressures and have set up a number of schemes to provide support."
For more information, visit www.cornwall.gov.uk or call the council on 0300 1234121.