Woman left in severe debt after being ‘stuck’ in four-bed Fareham council house on her own

Lorna Derrick    Picture: Malcolm Wells
Lorna Derrick Picture: Malcolm Wells
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A MOTHER-OF-FIVE has been left in severe debt after being ‘stuck’ in her four- bedroom house.

In 2016 Lorna Derrick from Fareham and her daughter were struggling to pay council rent on a four-bed property in Butser Walk and approached Fareham Borough Council to be moved into alternative accommodation.

The 52-year-old said: ‘My children had all moved out bar one, so we did not need all the space and it was expensive.

‘We wanted a two-bedroom for my daughter and a one- bedroom bungalow for me and then the council would get a four-bedroom house back for a family that would use all of it.’

Mrs Derrick explained the council agreed to move them both at the same time to avoid one being left with the whole rent.

She said: ‘They moved my daughter out in the April and nearly a year-and-a-half later I am still stuck here and now I am in a lot of debt.’

The grandmother-of-10, who has lived in the council house for 24 years, has now been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and can no longer get up the stairs.

Mrs Derrick said: ‘The stress of the situation has made my health much worse and I can’t get up the stairs, so I live downstairs and can’t have a proper bath.’

Mrs Derrick, who was a carer, has now been signed off work.

She said: ‘I can’t work at the moment due to my health problems, which has meant I can’t pay the rent and now I am in a lot of debt and I am so angry and upset that I can’t do anything about it.’

Her daughter, Samantha, said: ‘It is not fair and it is upsetting to see her in this way. She is a great mum who has always worked hard and by trying to give the council a four-bed house back, her health has deteriorated and she is in debt.’

Mrs Derrick added: ‘The council did offer me one property but it was the same in terms of costs and would not have solved any of my problems.’

A spokesperson for Fareham Borough Council said: ‘Mrs Derrick is a Hyde Housing Association tenant.

‘She is in the high housing need band, to recognise that her current property is larger than she requires.

‘We have made one offer of accommodation so far which Mrs Derrick refused on the grounds of affordability.

‘Unfortunately Mrs Derrick has given us quite specific requirements. She is seeking a one-bedroom bungalow or ground floor property with a garden, close to the town centre and where she can take her dog.

‘In the meantime we are providing Mrs Derrick with additional financial assistance from our Discretionary Housing Payment Fund.’