A father-of-six has slept on his couch next to his disabled son and one-year-old daughter for the past year after bungling council staff mixed up details that could have seen his family get a bigger house years ago.
Michael Bullock, wife Melissa and their six children have been living in a cramped three-bedroom house in Hallglen and have been on the waiting list for a bigger house since 2007.
While Mr Bullock sleeps on the couch, son Lewis (5), who has a form of autism, is forced to sleep on a blow-up camp bed while his little sister Amber (1) sleeps in her travel cot.
Mum Melissa sleeps in one room on her own due to health problems after problems following Amber’s birth last year, and the couple’s other children, James (14), Mikey (8), Amy (11) and Paige (4), share the other two rooms.
Despite telling the council they have had two children in the past four years, staff didn’t update their details and they believe they have lost out on a potential move.
Falkirk Council said it is doing all it can to re-house the family and insisted the Bullocks had the highest priority for a new home.
After the Falkirk Herald contacted the council about the family’s situation, staff paid them a visit last week and told them their records showed they only had four children.
Mr Bullock, however, is adamant they told the council each time they had a new arrival within a week and even provided birth certificates as it would have boosted their chances of being re-housed.
Local councillor Georgie Thomson also said she highlighted the family’s plight to the housing department two years ago.
“The situation is placing a massive strain on the whole family,” said Mr Bullock. “We’re so overcrowded it’s unbelievable.
“No one is allowed in the living room once the kids are asleep in case they are awoken, and Lewis can’t do anything without being supervised because of his condition.
“He is basically confined to living his life in the living room and doctors have told us it isn’t good for him.
“I need a C-PAP (positive airway pressure) machine because I suffer from sleep apnea. It can be quite loud and wakes the children. We can’t go on like this much longer.
“Health visitors and Lewis’s support worker have tried to help us. It’s been like this for two years and it feels like the council has used any excuse not to give us the house that we need for some reason.
“They’ve had the wrong details for us for years. It’s total incompetence. The way we see it we could have got another house by now and they can’t explain to us what went wrong.
“I have high blood pressure and I’m suffering from palpitations under the stress and I’m now on anti-depressants. Can’t they see they are playing with people’s lives here?”
Councillor Georgie Thomson, intervened on the family’s behalf and believes the new bidding system is letting families down.
She said: “When I became involved I sent an urgent email to the housing department but it seems there has been an error somehow.
“I can appreciate how angry and frustrated Michael and Melissa are because they could have been allocated a house by now if the council had the right details. This family has been badly let down.
“There is not enough housing stock in Falkirk, but under the old system I think the family would have had another house by now. This new system is clearly not working and it is not supporting families.”
A council spokesman said: “It is an unfortunate situation that the family is in and we have done everything we can to assist them with their housing application.
“We stress that they are in the highest priority category and they should continue to bid for all properties that meet their requirements. In the meantime, they have not been disadvantaged as the system is objective and designed for priority need.”