Tony Roath, 52, is facing eviction after his housing benefit was changed 'without his knowledge'
Tony Roath, who lives in Rugby, was served an eviction notice “out of the blue” and was ordered to be out of his house, which he shares with his partner, Chris, and three children, by the end of February – plunging his entire family into homelessness.
Tony, who suffers from PTSD, was shocked to discover Rugby Borough Council, which had been paying housing benefit to Affinity Sutton Housing Association, had slashed his payments to just 50p a week – leaving him almost £2,300 in arrears.
Rugby Borough Council says it received notification from the Department of Work and Pensions that the household income had increased and cut his benefits accordingly – something the Northern Ireland veteran vehemently denies.
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Tony, who spent 13 years in the Fusiliers and then the Pioneer Core and fought in several conflict zones, works as a therapist to help other veterans suffering from PTSD and acts as a life saving suicide intervention officer for the charity Veterans Association UK.
On the evening he discovered he was being evicted he raced to the aid of an former soldier who was attempting to kill himself after feeling let down by another council which could not find him accommodation or mental health care.
But he is on a zero hour contract and claims he is working fewer hours now than he was a couple of years ago, disputing the DWP’s claims the household income has risen.
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He faces a do-or-die court hearing at Nuneaton County Court in the coming weeks after his last case on Thursday, February 16, was adjourned.
Tony told Express.co.uk: “Rugby Council were paying my housing benefit but then out of the blue it all but stopped and they didn’t tell me.
“This accumulated rent massive arrears.
“The first thing we knew about it was when we got the eviction letter.
“I feel totally demoralised and let down – I served this country and this is how my whole family is being treated. My whole family is devastated.
“The way the council and Affinity Sutton have treated us makes me feel like they just don’t care.”
Tony Roath (not pictures) developed PTSD after serving in many conflicts
But it is not the first time Tony feels he has been let down – he claims he waited years for mental health care for his PTSD under the Government-funded veterans’ medical channel, Combat Stress.
The Armed Forces Covenant, which Express.co.uk is fighting to reform, currently states military veterans "SHOULD" not "MUST" be given “priority status” when it comes to “good quality, affordable and suitably located housing”.
But Tony said he waited six months for Affinity Sutton to fix the damp in his asthmatic son's bedroom, and two weeks for them to bring a replacement door after his property was broken into.
The Covenant also states: “Veterans receive their medical treatment from the NHS and should receive priority treatment where it results from their service in the armed forces.”
But Tony waited months for urgent mental health care.
Every local authority, including Rugby Borough Council, signed the Covenant, but Tony and countless others say they have “never had priority and feel totally worthless”.
Tony Roath is going to court to try to keep a roof over his family's head
The Express.co.uk Homes for Heroes campaign petition, designed to force the Government to reform the Armed Forces Covenant to make it fit for purpose, is available to sign here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/182429
Rugby Borough Council says it was acting on information given to it by the Department for Work and Pensions when it cut Tony’s housing benefit, it also says it did inform the brave veteran of the change in payments and is doing its utmost to give him advice and help in his current situation.
A spokesman said: "Our priority has to be to help Mr Roath and his family avoid eviction and stay in their home, and are helping him with court paperwork and an offer of a discretionary housing payment. Of course, if the family are evicted, we will do everything we can to help them."
A spokesperson for Affinity Sutton told Express.co.uk: “Eviction proceedings are always the absolute last resort and prior to this we offer a range of support to all of our tenants to help them to sustain their tenancies. We have a dedicated tenancy sustainment team, welfare benefits advisors and a financial guidance service – all of which were available to Mr Roath.
“We appreciate this will be a difficult time for Mr Roath, however, ultimately, any decision about Mr Roath’s tenancy will be made by the judge.”