Eastland Homes apologises over benefit cuts advice

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A housing association has apologised to "horrified" residents after suggesting they give up Sky TV, cigarettes, drink and bingo to deal with benefit cuts.

Eastlands Homes, which manages about 8,000 properties in Manchester, gave the advice to those affected by the new welfare reforms in a newsletter.

On the group's Facebook page residents said they were "disgusted".

A spokesman said the message was meant to be helpful but was "clumsily" written.

The advert in the newsletter read: "Can you really afford Sky, cigarettes, bingo, drinks and other non essentials?

"If your benefit is being cut and you want to keep your home you have to make up the difference.

"Non-essential items won't matter if you lose your home. Start budgeting now - we can help you do this, call us!"

'Truly appalling'

From April, unused bedrooms in social housing will be subject to an under-occupation charge under changes to the benefits system.

In response to Eastlands Homes advice, resident Sue Taylor wrote on Facebook: "Absolutely horrified and disgusted by the comments on your circular, it is truly appalling."

Another resident, Ruti Tutti, said: "In the next newsletter....will it be suggesting that those residents who actually have any money left to eat stop doing so?"

The group published a statement on its website, stating: "We're sorry if our article offended you.

"We've lobbied continuously against the government cuts which threaten the quality of life for many of our customers.

"We've increased the range of support and advice for anyone struggling in the face of these cuts as you will see from our newsletter.

"We know there will be stark choices - our message is that we are here to help wherever possible and we're sorry if we worded that clumsily."

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