Heavy drinker given booze benefits

Peter McDonald of Doncaster
Peter McDonald of Doncaster
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In a bizarre show of generosity a council has given an alcoholic extra benefits to help finance his heavy drinking.

Boozer Peter MacDonald was stunned when he received a letter awarding him the additional payments, having never made an application for them

The 51-year-old was told by benefits chiefs at Doncaster Council that he would be paid an additional £9.06 on top of his £120-a-week allowance to help finance his heavy drinking.

The former boiler cleaner said: “I know it’s a nanny state but I’d no idea they looked after you this well.”

Benefits manager Marian Bolton wrote to Peter after he fell into arrears with his rent.

The letter stated: “We can see that you are struggling to pay the shortfall between your rent and housing benefit due to the large amount you spend on alcohol.

“We understand that you spend this as you are alcohol dependent.

“We have decided to award you a discretionary housing payment and from 6/10/2014 we will pay you an extra £9.06 a week.”

The payments from the South Yorkshire council will last until next April, but Peter has been told he may be able to apply for them to continue.

Peter, who suffers from a bipolar disorder, insists he did not apply for any extra cash and disputes being branded an alcoholic, although he admits drinking about five pints a day.

Doncaster Council’s Director of Finance and Corporate Services, Simon Wiles said: “We are committed to supporting our most vulnerable residents in particular when it comes to housing needs.

“As the applicant had been adversely affected by the spare room deduction, we decided to provide a Discretionary Housing Payment to help meet the shortfall between Housing Benefit and rent. This temporary financial support, in response to a signed application, pays his rent straight to his landlord and helps him keep a roof above his head.

“We followed national guidance when signposting support.”

Mick Werritt, Director of Property Services at St Leger Homes, said: “St Leger Homes provides a range of help for vulnerable tenants and this can include assistance when completing Discretionary Housing Payment applications, however on this occasion we had no involvement with this application.

“Where we do assist with Discretionary Housing Payment applications they are always completed with the full knowledge of the applicant, who must also sign the form. An applicant must give evidence of severe hardship and explain what plans they have in place to help pay their rent in the longer term.”