Southfields dad committed suicide after housing benefit cut

Reposted from Wandsworth Guardian

A desperate man who lined up three kitchen knives before stabbing himself twice in the heart, blamed cuts in housing benefit. Unemployed Richard Sanderson took his own life after writing three suicide notes which were laid out neatly on a bed in a meticulously planned act. In one to his wife he wrote: “Don’t come into the bathroom, this time I will most certainly be deceased”.

Mr Sanderson, who said he could not face the thought of his family being homeless, stabbed himself twice in the heart with a kitchen knife on May 29 at home in Augustus Road, Southfields, after years of being unable to find work finally took its toll, an inquest heard. The 44-year-old former helicopter pilot wrote three suicide notes – two for his wife, Petra, and one for the police – after carefully planning the suicide over several days.  This followed a failed attempt less than a year earlier.

Coroner: Man ordered by Job Centre to give up training course

After returning a verdict of suicide at Westminster Coroner’s Court on Tuesday, August 23, Dr Fiona Wilcox said: “What I find particularly tragic in this case is this act appears to be pursued by a man who was not suffering from an illness and appears to have made a considered act in response to his inability to find employment.

“The fact his housing benefit was about to be cut and the family would be at risk of having nowhere to live, and being ordered to give up his training course because of the Job Centre’s rules, would appear to be especially poignant and tragic.”

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Labour’s housing spokesperson, Councillor Mark Thomas said:

“This is a tragic case.  It is understandable that people facing the prospect of having their housing benefit cut will be worried about losing their home.  If you are in this situation, approaching an organisation like Shelter or Citizen’s Advice can be a real help – they know all about housing law and can advise you on the different options that might be open to you.”

Leaked letter highlights homelessness impact of welfare cuts

Last weekend’s revelation that, according to the Government’s own analysis, its welfare reforms risk making an additional 40,000 families homeless, will have shocked many. Yet here in Wandsworth, the council continues to bury its head in the sand over the human impact of the cuts and the potential cost to council tax payers of assisting people forced out of their homes.

Next January alone, nearly 2000 residents renting privately in the borough will see their housing benefit cut, with families amongst the hardest hit. Despite this, the Tory leadership has failed to come up with any plan to keep people in their homes, and continues to sell off scarce council properties that will almost certainly be needed to house the homeless.

It’s hard to see what purpose can be served by keeping up the pretence that it’s impossible to predict the consequences of the Government’s flawed welfare reforms. We need the council to come up with a proper plan to help those who risk losing their homes, and to tackle the root causes of the borough’s housing crisis by increasing the supply of affordable housing. The alternative is a picture of individual hardship, social chaos, and a rising bill for the council tax payer.

For the Guardian’s story on Eric Pickles’ leaked letter, see