Social Housing Residents Told to Cut Back on Bingo

In the UK social housing reforms will be imposed in April and those living in social housing (Similar to Section 8 housing in the United States) will face a cut in benefits if they have an extra room in their apartments and houses. For those that are disabled and just getting by the ‘reforms’ will be disastrous. A report on RT Today showed a man who said that just because he has a tiny extra room he may have to choose between food and the medicine he needs to survive. He has tried to find other housing without success. Many living in council housing are pensioners on a fixed income. The ‘reforms’ are seen as callous by many and are unpopular.

In Manchester a housing association was forced to apologize to tenants after they sent residents a newsletter that stated “Can you really afford Sky, cigarettes, bingo, drinks and other non–essentials? If your benefit is being cut and you want to keep your home you have to make up the difference.”  Residents were justifiably outraged. One resident told reporters “This is just patronising nonsense. People are having a tough time as it is without having to be fed this nanny state nonsense. Anyone who read this would think we were living in the lap of luxury.”  Another angry tenant said “In the next newsletter … will it be suggesting that those residents who actually have any money left to eat stop doing so?”  A third resident accused the housing association of “stereotyping your unfortunate tenants as feckless, gambling couch potatoes who slob around all day playing bingo and watching Sky TV”.

Eastland Homes was forced to apologize after the snafu. Eastlands included the insulting advice in its newsletter Streets Ahead. Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith’s reforms include measures that will cut benefits for those with an extra room. In their apology Eastland Homes wrote ‘We’re sorry if our article offended you. We’ve lobbied continuously against the government cuts which threaten the quality of life for many of our customers. We’ve increased the range of support and advice for anyone struggling in the face of these cuts as you will see from our newsletter. We know there will be stark choices – our message is that we are here to help wherever possible and we’re sorry if we worded that clumsily.”

For many pensioners bingo is a way to get out of the house and socialize with friends and have a good time once in a while. In the UK bingo is inexpensive and is affordable to just about everyone. Some pensioners have been playing for decades. For invalids and the handicapped internet bingo has provided hours of fun and entertainment. It is easy to see why the social housing residents were so upset when they saw one of their favorite activities under attack.