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‘I’m not a sponger’ says man given flat
A HOMELESS man who was offered a flat after setting up camp outside Swindon Council’s offices has denied claims by a relative that he is a freeloader who sponges off the state.
Danny Lake, 27, started living in a tent in the garden of the Civic Offices, in Euclid Street, on Monday evening to highlight the effects of Government changes to housing benefit for single people aged 25 to 34 in private rented accommodation, which he said had forced him out of his Purton flat.
After discussions with council officers on Tuesday, he said they offered to provide 100 per cent housing benefit to cover the £170 weekly rent on a private one-bedroom studio flat in Grange Park, under a scheme which he said was not mentioned to him previously.
Danny has since admitted that, even though he was made homeless in January because he could not afford to cover the rent shortfall caused by the changes, he spent his last Jobseekers Allowance payment on a three-week trip through Holland, Germany and Belgium.
After returning to England, his blog, entitled The Globetrotting Nationalist, also details how he walked around the West Country and attended two major protests, including the Occupy London protest against corporate greed.
Katie Garwood, whom Danny says is his cousin, brought the blog to the attention of the Adver.
In an email, she said: “I am just embarrassed to be related to him. Daniel puts himself of a pedestal and thinks he is above working and that he is entitled, like many people in Britain, to everything without contributing a single thing.
“I feel for the taxpayers that work their hardest for a fraction of what Swindon Council has given the likes of Daniel. I also feel for the legitimate unemployed who actively seek work but, I’m sorry, this is a mockery of the system.”
Danny, a former Headlands and Churchfields School pupil, said the claims were ‘rubbish’, she did not have the full facts, and part of the family did not like him because he left the Army over his views about wars in the Middle East.
He said he always signed off when he left Swindon because he would not be available for work and did not want to be accused of fraud.
He said he continued to look for jobs even when he was at protests, and he had CVs and application letters to prove it. But he could not get a post because he was long-term unemployed and was once leader of the Young British National Party.
He said: “I’m no longer with that party but unfortunately there’s a lot of online dirt out there, articles that have been written, things that have been suggested, a lot of which is totally untrue – just various bloggers wanting to make a name for themselves.”
Danny said he had never been abroad before but decided to go to clear his head before coming back to deal with the consequences of being made homeless, adding that it would have cost taxpayers more if he had stayed in the UK and continued to claim benefits.
He said: “It would have cost more because I would have been in a hostel, which would have been £170 a week, and then there would have been my Jobseekers Allowance of £70 a week. What’s better, that 180 Euros I left with as a result of signing off my final payment or three times £170 plus three times £70?”
He said despite MP Justin Tomlinson’s suggestion that he could rent a room in a shared house with the reduced housing benefit, he claimed it was difficult to do this because private landlords did not like to rent to the unemployed as the benefits are paid in arrears.