A FAMILY who were persuaded to move to a smaller council home by the promise of a £1,500 sweetener have now been told they were never entitled to any cash.
Dawn Benson, 52, and husband Shane, 53, agreed to swap their three-bedroom house in Bardfield, Vange, for a two-bedroom bungalow after being tempted by a promise of cash on Basildon Council’s website.
Having spent several hundred pounds moving house, they have now been told the wrong information had been posted on the website and the cash offer didn’t apply to them.
The Bensons and daughters, Charlotte, 19, and Susan, 24, moved into a rundown two-bedroom bungalow in Samuel Road, Laindon in May.
Mrs Benson said: “Me and my husband are both disabled, so we were told we needed to move to a bungalow, even though we’d had a stairlift put in and other adjustments made to our old house.
The only one available was a twobedroom place, so we had no choice but to go for it.
“The move has ended up costing us money. We’ve had to fork out hundreds of pounds already and the bungalow is in a bit of a state, so we’re going to have to save up to get it up to scratch.
We’ve even got bare boards in our living room.
“If we’d known we weren’t going to get the £1,500 we’d never have moved.
“We worked and paid taxes our whole lives until we became ill, but now we’re not getting anything back.
“We’ve uprooted the whole family and our daughters are having to share a bedroom for the first time.”
Mrs Benson has health problems including arthritis and diabetes, while Mr Benson has the lung condition emphysema.
The couple, who had lived in the Vange property for ten years, first got in touch with Basildon Council about moving in September 2013- four months before the downsizing scheme was introduced.
They moved into the bungalow in May.
A council spokesman said: “The downsizing incentive scheme is predominately aimed at applicants occupying three, four or five-bedroom accommodation, wishing to move to a one - bedroom property. The policy states consideration will be given to applicants in four or five-bedroom properties wishing to move to a two-bedroom property, subject to approval.
“As Mr and Mrs Benson were in a three-bedroom property, they were not eligible.
“The council accepts our website contained incorrect information, regarding the criteria for the scheme.
“We have apologised to Mr and Mrs Benson and can confirm the website has now been updated.”