Residents say festive message is insulting for those who pay rent on time
A postcard sent by Hammersmith and Fulham Council warning council tenants to not overspend this Christmas and pay their rent has been labelled 'insulting'.
Tina Buckley complained to the housing department after her 82-year-old mother Mary became distressed when she received the note in the post last week.
It is understood the card was sent to every council tenant in the borough regardless of whether they were behind with their rent or not, as well as leaseholders who own their properties.
Ms Buckley, whose mother lives in the Westway in the White City Estate, said: “My mother is 82, she has a severe illness and to get that through the door was very distressing.
“We want to know why are they targeting her. She was incensed, because over some 60 years as a tenant she has always paid her rent before buying food.
“I was absolutely flabbergasted. It’s a crass and insulting message.
“And when I went to complain, the lady on the phone laughed at me.”
Councillor Andrew Johnson, cabinet member for housing, said: “The postcard was not intended to be insulting but to deter tenants from getting into debt over a period which can bring financial headaches.
“Research shows that this is the one time of year that many families will consider forgoing their rent. This brings stress and worry as it can often be very difficult to catch-up.
“We want to prevent this from happening while offering support to people who are experiencing financial hardship. Many local authorities and housing associations carry out similar exercises, with evidence showing it does have a powerful impact in raising awareness and reducing debt.”
The council said research from homeless charity Shelter suggests one in 12 council tenants are prepared to forgo their rent payments over Christmas.