altA housing association in the north of England has recently hit the headlines for telling their “horrified” residents to give up their beloved bingo. Eastland Homes manages more than 8,000 properties in the Manchester area, and their management came under fire when they sent a newsletter out to residents who were suffering from the latest benefit cuts. In the newsletter, it was suggested that people give up perks such as cigarettes, alcohol, satellite TV, and bingo to help them cope with the new welfare reforms. A spokesperson for Eastland Homes has publically apologised for what he says was supposed to be helpful advice, and admits it was “clumsily” written. The newsletter inferred that bingo was one of the “non essentials” possibly enjoyed by residents, which wouldn’t matter if they ended up losing their homes. It invited home-dwellers to “start budgeting now,” offering help via a telephone number.

The missive was sent out following news of the forthcoming “bedroom tax” that will be imposed by the government from April 2013. In the new regime, bedrooms which are unused in social housing will be charged for under-occupation.

However, most of those who live in Eastland Homes properties were incensed by the suggestions that were made, and took to the company’s Facebook page to voice their anger. One woman said she was “absolutely horrified and disgusted” at what she read, calling the comments “truly appalling.” Another resident wrote to enquire whether the next newsletter would suggest giving up eating.

Eastland Homes followed up the deluge of complaints by posting a public response on their website, apologising for causing any offence. They went on to add that they have been continuously lobbying against the government cuts which are likely to affect their customers, and have taken steps to provide more support and advice for those struggling to cope with the impending benefits cuts.

Have you ever felt forced into giving up bingo in order to to make ends meet? If so, do you think that benefit cuts and taxes should be allowed to take away the few things left in life that make us happy? Or, perhaps you think exactly the opposite, and that people should be more prepared to sacrifice their hobbies in order to keep their homes and possessions? If you could give up anything just to be able to continue playing, what would it be? Maybe chocolate, cigarettes, or even sweets?