A MAN who is homeless and without benefits since returning to Eastbourne from Australia earlier this year is holding a 48-hour vigil over Christmas to highlight his plight.
Steve Morman arrived back in England in October after living in Australia for nine years – he failed to find any work has been refused any kind of benefits.
He is now living on the streets and says is holding the peaceful vigil from today, Christmas Eve, until 10am Boxing Day to bring attention to his situation.
“I am lonely, helpless, confused and desperate,” said 52-year-old Mr Morman. “At what should be a joyous time of year is for me a constant battle to get through the day.”
Mr Morman said he returned to England from Australia to make a fresh start after his long-term relationship broke down. His initial plan was to find work but with the shortage of jobs, he made a claim for Jobseekers Allowance.
It was then Mr Morman was told that because he had been out of the UK for so long he would not be eligible for any help.
“Despite me being born and educated in the UK and having lived here all my life before going overseas I have been unable to attain any help at all. Since I was told this my life has been hell and I have been forced to live out on the streets. I am not asking for anything other than what I believe I am as a UK citizen entitled to.”
Mr Morman’s case has been taken up by Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd and case workers at Brighton Housing Trust but he is now facing the festive season on the streets.
A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions said Mr Morman had failed a Habitual Residency Test so was not entitled to receive benefits but he could appeal.
The spokesperson added, “Jobcentre Plus is contacting Mr Morman to discuss any support he might be entitled to.
“The Habitual Residence Test ensures that income-related benefits are paid to people with reasonably close ties to the UK and who have an intention to settle here. Anyone can appeal a decision and we will look at any new evidence they supply.”