Out on his ear: Soldier who served in Iraq faces bankruptcy and homelessness (From Bournemouth Echo)
When news happens text pix and video to 80360. Start your message with BE then leave a space.
Out on his ear: Soldier who served in Iraq faces bankruptcy and homelessness
A FORMER soldier who successfully fought deportation has told how his family are facing ruin and homelessness.
Fijian-born Lance Corporal Bale Baleiwai, who served in the British Army for 13 years, recorded a landmark victory over the UK Border Agency (UKBA) last year.
But he and British-born wife Kim face bankruptcy and a seven-year wait for a council house.
With just three months before they have to leave their home in Ensbury Park, the family of four are likely to end up living in a one-bedroom rented flat.
Kim, 31, said: “We fought this case so my children could grow up in my home town near my family but it’s so tempting to get up and leave now.”
Bale, 32, risked his life in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan but was refused UK citizenship after leaving the Army last April.
In 2010, he defended himself in a fight with another soldier and accepted a summary punishment from the Army.
The UKBA ruled the only stain on an otherwise exemplary record was the equivalent of a criminal conviction and deemed him unworthy of citizenship.
The deportation order prevented Bale from working while the six-month fight with the UKBA swallowed his £10,000 resettlement grant.
He now works as a mechanic in Bordon, Hampshire, but the trip costs him £400 a month in petrol. This, added to their £900 a month rent, takes up his entire salary.
Kim, an occupational therapist, had to turn down a job while Bale was fighting deportation and is still out of work.
The couple were hoping for a two-bedroom council house but have been told they can only bid for three-bedroom properties because daughter Lilly, seven, and son Sunny, four, need separate bedrooms. They have been warned the wait could take seven years.
“It’s so very frustrating because we wouldn't be in this position if the Home Office hadn’t done this to us,” said Kim.
She added: “I can’t get my head round the fact that we can live in a one-bedroom or studio flat if we rent privately but we are not allowed to bid on a two-bedroom council house.”
Bale said: “We don’t want to scrounge off the state. I’ve worked my entire life.”
Kelly Ansell, Bournemouth Borough Council’s strategic housing service project manager, said: "The family have gold band priority, which means that they are in an excellent position on our housing waiting list.
“They are being currently advised by our team with regard to their situation and we will continue to advise and support the family to secure alternative privately rented accommodation.”