Blind pensioner will turn to charity for help when payments rise

A blind pensioner has said he will need to use a foodbank when his rent and service charges increase in April.

Paul Smith, 77, lives in a one-bedroom flat managed by Freebridge Community Housing and is so concerned about his rent going up next month that he plans to use foodbanks to ease the squeeze on his finances.

It comes after Freebridge have told him his rent will rise by £100 and the service charge is going up from £112 to £191.

Foodbanks supply donated food and household items to those in need (iStock image)
Foodbanks supply donated food and household items to those in need (iStock image)

The pensioner, who is registered blind as he has severely impaired sight and could lose it at any time, is concerned that there are others in his position with a fixed income who cannot afford the increases alongside the cost of living crisis.

Mr Smith, who lives at Waterside in North Lynn, said: “They sprang it on us without any negotiation or consultation. I had a letter to say rent and service charges go up in April basically saying you will have to pay this.

“Freebridge says there is a hardship fund after going through my finances as I haven’t got a lot to play with.”

Mr Smith said he has now been moved from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to a personal independent payment (PIP).

“I have a little bit of savings for emergencies to fall back on but how long will that last if they want me to use that?”

“I will need to use a foodbank. There will be other pensioners on a fixed income who will struggle and just can’t afford it and we can’t fight back.”

The 77-year-old has slammed the government’s treatment of people of his age.

“I feel we are the forgotten generation,” he said. “It’s a case of like it or lump it, but how can the government treat pensioners like this?

“At the moment I am in limbo land and I don’t know if I shall qualify for the hardship fund so I will go to Citizen’s Advice as there is lots of hardship to disabled and ordinary pensioners.”

A Freebridge spokesperson said: “The service charge rise is represented by the cost of energy, with those on sheltered schemes sadly seeing that price hike that we have all been experiencing for the first time.”