Christian paying for helping friend

For decades he has acted as a modern-day Good Samaritan, helping those less fortunate, despite living on the bread- line himself. But one of 81-year-old Douglas Miller's acts of kindness has brought him nothing but trouble.

For decades he has acted as a modern-day Good Samaritan, helping those less fortunate, despite living on the bread- line himself.

But one of 81-year-old Douglas Miller's acts of kindness has brought him nothing but trouble.

More than two years on from helping a family friend who was down on his luck, Mr Miller, known as Dusty to his friends, is still paying the price.

Mr Miller took in the penniless and homeless friend for a short time, allowing him to sleep on a bed settee in his one-bed flat in North Walsham.

Although no rent changed hands, the act of kindness, which Mr Miller said only lasted a matter of three of four weeks and then only on an intermittent basis, led to the withdrawal of rent and council-tax benefit, leaving him with rent arrears of more than £2,000 and threats of eviction.

That money is still being repaid by Mr Miller, who now owes around £1,000.

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"I'd like to warn people living alone in council property," said Mr Miller.

"If you are receiving benefit, do not take pity on homeless people. Being a Good Samaritan in this century is very costly."

Mr Miller said that as a younger man he had often helped people who found themselves homeless, but now he was living in a one-bed flat he was generally unable to do so.

"But in this case I decided I could help out because this man was very much down on his luck," said Mr Miller.

"As a Christian I would not turn my back on anyone who needed help.

"As much as anything he needed an address to apply for jobs and so on, which he successfully did.

"For me it has turned into a nightmare."

Officials at North Norfolk District Council said they were unable to comment on individual cases but said it was possible to appeal against a benefit decision, both to the council and afterwards to an independent external body.

A spokesman for the council said: "In respect to housing and council-tax benefit regulations, another adult living in the household of a person in receipt of benefit in certain circumstances will reduce the amount of benefit entitlement of the applicant.

"This is based on the circumstances of the applicant and the income of the other adult living in the property."

Disputes could be handled firstly by the council and then by the Tribunal Service, an external independent body which deals with social- security matters.

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