The sight of a donkey watching EastEnders and drinking tea in a Dungannon living room has become a more common occurance after it emerged that the “bedroom tax” will apply to housing benefit law in Northern Ireland from February 2017.
The range of ultra-domesticated animals in the greater Dungannon area include cattle (bulls and cows), sheep, goats, pigs and even horses. A Housing Benefit assessor explained the unusual scene he was met with when he paid a visit to a NI Housing Executive tenant in the town at the weekend:
“I should have been alerted by the noise and smell but just thought the TV was up loud and maybe the toilets were broken. On passing the living room window, I witnessed what could only be described as a goat vacuuming the room with an apron on it. And it stays in the spare bedroom apparently.”
Legislation currently fails to rule out adopting an animal as a dependent, preventing the payment of bedroom tax. The loophole cannot be fixed for 12 months due to the imminent Stormont collapse, resulting in thousands of housing association dwellers in Dungannon taking in 4-legged family members.
“It’s a bigger scam than the RHI debacle. These townspeople don’t know how to handle large animals. I visited a house outside the town and a donkey had dunged all over the stairs. Is it really worth that for a few pounds onto your rent a month?”
Owners have been warned about keeping bulls in houses joined onto other houses with cows as residents. Two such dwellings were wrecked last week after the bull bored a hole from one house to the other to get to the cow.