NSW Council's shocking behaviour forces pensioner to live on $20 a day
Grafton resident Alan Smith, 72, fell behind on his council rate payments. He freely admits this fact.
In response, Clarence City Council in NSW tried to sell his house out from under him.
Mr Smith claims his former wife had been spending the money on herself rather than making the payments.
"I knew her not to pay bills on smaller amounts, but not on our own home," he told A Current Affair.
Then one day, Mr Smith opened the newspaper to find that his home was for sale.
"Pretty much the bottom fell out of my world," he said.
Mr Smith said he wasn't contacted by the council, and when tired to get an explanation, he was told that everybody from senior management was too busy.
He has since been told he owed $27,000, $33,000 and now $37,000, but he's received no breakdown of the money owed, nor any disclosure on interest rates.
So, to stay in his home, Mr Smith took out a small loan to pay back the rates, and commenced a payback plan that takes up more than half his Age Pension.
He is now living on less than $20 a day.
He lives in house with no hot water, a broken washing machine, and he recently learned that he needs a cancer biopsy.
"It'll be when I can afford it, I'm afraid," he said.
His neighbours have stepped up, helping him with food and other household items.
"It's something that goes against my grain because I don't seek charity," he said.
"It's a big help, and with what I'm paying council at the moment I don't have a lot of spare money."
Clarence Valley Council would not comment on individual ratepayers' cases for privacy reasons.
What do you think of this behaviour? Should the council exercise a little more leniancy? Or do you think appropriate action was taken?