You probably remember James Bowen and Bob the cat. James was a busker, homeless and a heroin addict when along came a ginger tabby street cat who he called Bob. They formed a great partnership. Bob helped James to straighten out his life and James provided companionship, food and shelter for Bob. As a consequence a book was written. The book and other enterprises have made James quite well off financially, being worth an estimated £500,000.
James used to live and continues to live in a Peabody Trust housing association flat. The rent for that flat was paid through benefits i.e. by the taxpayer.
When a person starts to earn sufficient money to pay rent himself he has to disclose that to the local authority. James says he has done this although he is not sure whether he did it within the usual timeframe under the rules.
However, the rent for the flat is still being paid by the taxpayer under housing benefit as I understand it. This is going to be upsetting to some people because it is turning a really positive story about James and Bob into one which is a little bit seedy on the face of it.
However, the story is complicated because James says that he personally told the council, Social Security and the Peabody Trust housing association that he was able to pay rent himself. He has been doing this for two years but, he says, the Peabody Trust won’t cash his cheques in payment of the rent.
This is quite an interesting story and the problem seems to originate not with James Bowen but with the Peabody Trust. There appears to been a breakdown in communication between them and the local authority.the story is also interesting because the public now knows how much James has earned through his books.
James, is apparently looking for a property because he has made a mortgage application. So no doubt, in due course in any event, he will be moving out of his housing association flat but in the meantime he needs to straighten out this problem because somebody might argue that he has been fraudulently claiming housing benefit when it appears, as stated, that this is simply a mixup.