March 9 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, January 2, 2014
Work to create a six-bedroom council home for an Ipswich family of 12 after borough chiefs agreed to knock through the house next door will start early next week, it is understood.
The Ipswich Star exclusively revealed in October that Tim Fisk, 44, his heavily-pregnant partner Mandy Ball, 41, and their 10 children were promised their new taxpayer-funded home in Glamorgan Road.
The move provoked national controversy and triggered a petition signed by 84 angry residents opposed to the move.
Those objections were turned down by Ipswich Borough Council (IBC), which said the conversion was the most cost-effective way of meeting the family’s housing needs.
Former security guard Mr Fisk defended the decision in the aftermath of the revelation, slamming his neighbours in the Maidenhall area for being “jealous”.
He said he had “worked all his life” and insisted his family were entitled to the extra space, while arguing it was their “human right” to decide how many children to have.
The unemployed couple, whose children range from 15 years old to one-year-old, have lived at their terraced property for seven years. The new home will cater for 10 of their 12 children, with the other two having moved out.
Construction work, which an IBC spokesman said will cost £6,000, will see builders knock through an unoccupied house next door to where the family live.
The Star understands it will finally start early next week, most likely on Monday, after it was previously reported builders were due to start before Christmas.
Speaking in October, Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said the news would “concern” taxpayers.
He argued it reinforced the importance of the Coalition Government’s flagship welfare reform, which recently introduced a benefits cap of £26,000 – £500 a week – on all households. However those with a person on disability allowance are exempt.
Mr Fisk refused to disclose exactly how much his family receives in benefits but said he has been forced into becoming a full time carer to his 14-year-old son Daniel, who is blind in one eye and has serious learning difficulties.
He also said he had to give up security guard employment in Clacton-on-Sea in Essex three years ago in order to care for his partner who he said requires “round-the-clock care”.
Speaking in October, an IBC spokesman said there were 3,203 people on the council’s housing waiting list, with 391 of these eligible for three-bedroom homes.
Explaining the decision, he said: “This is a very unusual situation and not something we would normally contemplate doing but, having reviewed all the options, we believe that this is the most cost-effective option to find a solution to this family’s needs.
“The alterations can be reversed in the future. We have only one six-bedroom house in our stock.”