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Carterton teenager's dance dream hit by High Court ruling on benefit
A TEENAGE dancer is facing having to drop out of his “dream” college after a High Court ruling means he is no longer entitled to housing benefit.
Ellis Linford-Pill, 18, has to find £8,000 to cover his rent for the next two years of his course at Laine Theatre School, in Epsom, Surrey.
The teenager from Carterton was receiving almost £80 a week in housing benefit, which covered his rent of £365 a month.
High Court judge Ernest Bano ruled in July that anyone studying for the National Diploma in Musical Theatre was doing a higher education degree.
It had been classed as a further education course by Epsom & Ewell Borough Council, entitling students up to £80 a week in housing benefit.
The ruling has hit about 150 students at the Laine Theatre School and has been enforced with immediate effect.
Mr Linford-Pill, who has been training to be a dancer since he was 11, said: “I don’t even want to think about what will happen if I cannot raise the money.
“I was working two jobs for some spare money but I can’t afford to now I have to pay £4,000 a year.
“This is my dream, my dream career and it is too upsetting to think about what will happen if I have to drop out.”
Mr Linford-Pill, of Home Close, Carterton, won a scholarship to attend the prestigious school, where Victoria Beckham was a pupil, and has just completed his first year.
His dream is to appear in shows in London’s West End.
The former Henry Box School student performed in several shows in Witney when he was part of the Jill Stew School of Dance.
He added: “This is what I have always wanted to do and it is all I can see myself doing.
“I really want to be on the West End stage, but just to be performing would be amazing.”
His mother, Tracey Linford, 50, said her son was unable to stay at home and travel to school.
She said: “It would probably cost more for him to do that.
“He is incredibly hard-working and he deserves what he has achieved over the years.”
His father, Hugo Pill, who is currently unemployed, is hoping someone will be come forward to help his son continue at the school.
Mr Pill, 60, of Hill View, Carterton, said: “We help Ellis out with some of the other costs but we cannot afford £8,000 for the next two years.
“The rug has just been completely pulled from underneath him. He has been given a scholarship for this, he has such promise.
“Going to this school will help him achieve anything that he wants and we want him to stay there but it is looking increasingly difficult.”
Epsom & Ewell councillor Neil Dallen said: “It is deeply regrettable that we can no longer offer them support through the housing benefit scheme.”
Mr Linford-Pill has set up a fundraising page. Visit indiegogo.com/projects/ellis-laine-campaign
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