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Gran's benefit ban over Spanish holiday home
6:00am Thursday 5th December 2013 in News
A GRANDMOTHER had her housing benefit stopped after council officers discovered she owned a £170,000 holiday home in Spain.
Zena Cooper, 60, did not tell Basildon Council about the house when she applied for benefits in April 2011.
She has been receiving £280 a month to live in her one-bedroom bedsit in Baker Close, Laindon, for more than two-anda- half years.
Despite admitting owning the Spanish home, Mrs Cooper is furious her benefit has been stopped.
She said she desperately needs the money as she was given custody of her six year-old grandson in September.
He has special needs and stays at a boarding school from Monday to Friday.
Mrs Cooper said: “Social services said I need a two-bedroom place because of my grandson, but the council won’t help me.
“They said as I have a house in Spain worthmore than £16,000 it is classed as savings and I am not eligible.
“I have had it up for sale for two years, but not one person has been interested because the market has crashed in Spain.
“It’s no use to me if I can’t sell it.”
Mrs Cooper bought the penthouse for £170,000 ten years ago but has put it back on the market for £130,000.
Basildon Council told the Echo it was made aware of her Spanish home a number of years ago.
Officers worked with the Department of Work and Pensions to give Mrs Cooper a “period of grace” to sell up but this has come to an end.
A spokesman said the council would not be claiming back any of the money.
Mrs Cooper added: “I didn’t just buy that house. My husband and I worked all the hours we could for years. He passed away 16 years ago.
“I can’t work now because I look after my grandson because of his special needs. I’m just so angry.
“I’m going to write to the Queen about it.”
Stuart Sullivan, councillor responsible for resources, said: “Mrs Cooper’s entitlement to housing benefit has ended as we have been informed by the Department for Work and Pensions that Mrs Cooper is no longer entitled to a benefit due to a change in her circumstances.
“If Mrs Cooper disagrees with this decision she has the right of appeal to the Department for Work and Pensions and if they change their decision we would amend ours to reflect that change.”
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