How councils unlawfully obstruct the bedroom tax appeal..and the ballsy tenacious tenant…and the inconsistent tribunal judges!

Local councils are acting unlawfully right across the country in obstructing the tenant from appealing the bedroom tax and unlawfully taking away their absolute right for these decisions to be reconsidered!

Here I report on another bedroom tax appeal win but a bloody remarkable one given the tenacity of the tenant and this correct decision highlights by contrast the outrageous and unlawful practices councils have widely adopted to deny the tenants rights to have their decisions reconsidered and obstruct the tenant from appealing to the tribunals.  Let’s start with the positives of this particular decision….

Birmingham, the second city, the city with over 11,000 bedroom tax affected households, finally gets a bedroom tax tribunal decision, and its a favourable one.Unlike my home city of Liverpool which had at least 650 cases by August this year from a recent FOI request I have yet to hear of any cases in Birmingham and there is little activity amongst any anti-bedroom tax groups that I am aware in the second city of England.  I doubt that’s strictly true as there must have been some cases but if so they have been so few and far between and I do get many decisions positive and negative sent to me directly from appellants.

This particular case has only had a decision notice (below) yet there is enough there to see what this case was about and its both unusual and contains some very noticeable issues, not least a tribunal judge who was well versed in the HB regulations and tribunal rules too which is sadly not always the case.

The tenant  took his own case and won and without any help other than a few emails from me but only in outline and the tenant doesn’t appreciate just how he has done.  A tribunal is a daunting anxious prospect for any tenant even when represented and as per usual the tenant is effusive in his thanks to me but seriously all I did was a few 2 minute emails and no credit is due my way. (Since drafting this the tenant has informed ho he went to CAB seven times without any help and spoke with Shelter and other organisations to be told its not what we do! – A common problem which deserves and will get a post all of its own.)

Here’s page 1 of the decision notice and page 2 is just the signature and issue date with no more wording

birm1

 

Points to note:

This was an appeal against the decision of March 2013 and so has taken 18 months to reach tribunal.  Yet it also involved the tenant receiving a Directions Notice in July 2014 which read “Your appeal may not be able to proceed.  This is because it appears to have no prospect of success.”  The tenant was given 21 days to submit argument else the case would have been struck out!  The tenacity of this tenant eh reader or is that the errant predisposition of tribunal judges? I merely gave the tenant some argument but as I say he deserves huge credit and all of it for what he has achieved here.

Paragraph 4 has some very interesting comments to note “…it was never intended…as a two-bedroom property. Accordingly it was necessary to change the usage…done with the knowledge and support of the landlord.”

This is a room usage issue clearly and very importantly a reasonable change for the reasons given and these were the facts at the time the decision was taken…”The Tribunal is satisfied that at the time of the decision it is a one bedroom property…

Many tribunal judges, wrongly in my view, fail to consider this as they MUST because that is what their remit is as set down in the 1998 Social Security Act and repeated in the 2000 Child Support, Pensions & Social Security Act and further reinforced in two statutory instruments of 2008 which govern the remit of the Tribunals.  A few judges have needed ‘reminding’ of that in cases I have took and yet many other cases I have seen have decisions which say you signed for a three bed 10 years ago and if the landlord relet this in 5 years time is would be a 3 bed.

fttremit

 

The above is the original 1998 Act cited and the amendment simply replaced the words “Appeal Committee” with “First-tier Tribunal” as is stated.  These decisions must have erred in law by considering what a property may be in the future and what the landlord may call a property in the future in terms of the number of bedrooms.  There is also a strong argument that what a property was described as 5 or 10 years previously at tenancy start not necessarily the case when the decisions were made – as in this precise case.

They are two incredibly important issues and while some judges do have to be reminded of this it is also the tenant / appellants responsibility to assert and argue it. Yet not all tenants have the tenacity of the appellant here and he simply doesn’t realise how bloody well he has done – a point I will repeat and repeat!

Of course many councils do not know this either and persist in obstructing tenants from appealing with the you signed for a 3 bed its a 3 bed argument and / or it is up to the landlord – both of which are legal fictions. Some councils go even further when the tenant asks them to review a decision and they say we will not reconsider the decision unless your landlord reclassified – which is not only a legal fiction, it is the council denying your absolute right to a review and reconsideration.

That same tactic of attempting to refer the tenant back to their landlord also delays the whole process and some councils after advising tenants to do this then tell the tenant they are out of time to appeal when they are inevitably and rightly sent back to the council by their landlord.

A classic case of this errant position and legal fiction was drawn to my attention the other day on the website of Cardiff City Council when it says:

Some of my bedrooms are too small to use as a bedroom

When you moved into your home, it was on the agreement it had a certain number of bedrooms.  If you think this was wrong, and your home has less bedrooms, you should talk to your landlord. 

In very exceptional cases your landlord may consider reclassifying your home as a smaller property.  If your landlord does this, and reduces your rent, your claim will be looked at again and a decision will be made whether to revise your benefit.

I highlight just two parts of the above though the premise that you moved into a property due to the number of bedrooms it claimed to have is a highly questionable premise too.

Firstly Cardiff City Council says you should talk to you landlord and that is a nonsense as (a) the council is the ONLY decision maker and is free to choose to believe the view of the landlord or not.  Note well here that [20] of the A4/2012 HB circular says the landlord was not obligated in any way whatsoever to give the council any data for the bedroom tax decision.  So even the DWP know and admit that the determination as to the number of bedrooms a property has is NOT up to the landlord for bedroom tax purposes.  The CCC position assumes that the number of bedrooms IS up to the landlord which is a legal fiction.  Also check with the SI which enacted the bedroom tax which says the council MUST determine the number of bedrooms and that SI doesn’t mention the word ‘landlord’ once in any decision making capacity!

Secondly, the council say that only IF your landlord reclassifies the number of bedrooms that they will conduct you absolute right to reconsider the original decision.  The council simply cannot take away your right to a review or reconsideration in this way.  They are acting unlawfully in doing this.

What these two well known and incredibly common ‘techniques’ do is dissuade the tenant from appealing the bedroom tax and that is outrageous as well as unlawful practice by such councils.

Cardiff is by no means the only council to do this and many councils operate these outrageous and unlawful practices and still do so.  In the early days of the bedroom tax I reported that Cornwall and Coventry councils said there was no right of appeal whatsoever to the bedroom tax decision.  Yet within 24 hours of being named and shamed they both apologised and both amended their websites and letters – (although see Note 2 below which reveals that Cornwall Council still wrongly assert that the number of bedrooms and what a bedroom constitutes is up to the landlord.)

I could write thousands of more words on these outrageous ‘techniques’ being employed by local councils in seeking to deny the tenant right of appeal.  I could, but regrettably do not have the time, to check 340+ local council websites to see if they have these same obstruction techniques on their websites.

Instead, I am asking tenants from all over the country to check their own council websites and email me copies of letters in which their councils have said it is up to the landlord and / or you can only have your absolute right to reconsideration undertaken IF your landlord agrees to reclassify.

This matter has become a national scandal and one that needs greater awareness of and more importantly something done about it.  I will collate the evidence into some formal research and then look in detail at what is the best route to challenge.

___________________________________________________________________

NOTES

1) Here is a more subtle version of the Cardiff unlawfulness from Sefton MBC in Merseyside:

If you think we have used the wrong number of bedrooms in assessing your Housing Benefit please contact us immediately with details of the error so we can look into the matter and, where appropriate, correct it. Any query as to whether a room is classed as a bedroom will need to be directed to your landlord in the first instance. The council will ultimately determine how much Housing Benefit is paid

No, no, no!  What a bedroom is only for the council as decision maker and not for your landlord.  Sefton directed tenants on this path are sending the tenant on a wild goose chase and in doing so are by stealth reducing the tenants time in which to appeal…and with the intention of discouraging the tenant from challenging their decision by way of reconsideration and appeal

2)  Also interested in statements similar to this by Cornwall Council

There has been some discussion recently as to whether landlords should be changing the classification of their properties in relation to the Space Standards.  Cornwall Housing does have regard to the Space Standards in Section 326 of the Housing Act 1985 which are set for the purposes of defining statutory overcrowding.  However these standards are only in relation to overcrowding and do not determine what constitutes a bedroom, which is for each landlord to determine.  On occasions it is necessary for us to consider whether the size of the bedrooms meets a tenant’s needs but that is normally in relation to a situation when a family has outgrown a property and is seeking a move due to overcrowding.

Cornwall is assertively stating that what constitutes ‘bedroom’ is for the landlord to determine.  It is not and the ONLY decision maker who can lawfully determine what a bedroom constitutes is the council.  The landlord is not a party to the bedroom tax decision.

3.  A few months back I was asked to submit a permission to appeal a losing appeal which I did.  The Birmingham case above reminds me of that.  In the Statement of Reasons the judge said “It is clear from the evidence….was originally designed as a two bedroom flat, and would be re-let as such...”  Judge Fowler in the Birmingham case says this is not a relevant consideration.  One of these two judges must be wrong – and why bedroom tax appeals are so bloody frustrating!!

In the appealed case above (still waiting for a decision on appeal hence not referenced) the judge went on to say “It is for the Council to determine what is a bedroom and what it is not...” Which I agree with and has to be correct yet many councils are stating that it is up to the landlord and persist with this legal fiction.

Please email any findings from your council to me at joe@hsmonline.co.uk and let’s see how we can end this bloody outrageous farce.

UPDATES

Norwich City Council in their published FAQS say:

Who decides how many bedrooms are in my property? Your landlord will tell Norwich City Council how many bedrooms are in your property.

It’s up to the landlord according to Norwich!

 

Renter of York Gives Bedroom Investigation Veracity? The Bungled bedroom tax again.

Bedroom Tax regulations at B(13)(5) would say a family comprising of a couple with 1 daughter aged 10 and 1 daughter aged 8 would be entitled to and have a housing need for 2 bedrooms. YET a Local Government Ombudsman report from October 2012 in York found that such a household was overcrowded…AND the council in York accepted this as being correct.

The report says at [28]:

28. When Mr Green and his family moved into their property their household was 3.5 people in terms of sections 324 -326 Housing Act 1985. But, given the size of the second bedroom, the house was overcrowded by .5 of a person from the moment they moved in.

You will note I have highlighted and emphasised “...given the size of the second bedroom” and that bedroom deemed by the LGO to be too small for two girls of 10 and 8 years old to share was 7.77 square metres which is 82.88 square feet.

At [23] of the LGO report the Ombudsman says:

My investigator made further enquiries on the same day querying how the offer complied with the law, given that Mr Green’s daughters, at the time of the offer, counted as 1.5 people under the relevant legislation (and within less than 12 months would count as 2 people). A room of 7.7 m2 was only big enough for one person.

Now what all the above means is that there could be many bedroom tax affected households containing a couple and 2 children of the same sex in (allegedly) 3 bedroom properties yet (bed)rooms 2 and 3 will both be too small to be deemed a bedroom and thus has the bedroom tax been levied in error?

There is certainly a strong appeal case in these situations as for any of rooms 2 and 3 to count as bedrooms for avoiding overcrowding purposes they would need to be 110 square feet or 10.22 square metres.

So if room 1 is 120 sq/ft thats one bedroom; yet if room 2 is 90 square feet and room 3 is 63 square feet then that under overcrowding regulations is a property with 2 bedrooms. [Note well here the living room in this property had a gas fire and so could not count as a bedroom]

Let’s put this into a very local context of York Council who agreed with the LGO report and agreed they were overcrowded.  York UA has 940 bedroom tax imposed households and we can take it as read that many will be household of a couple with 2 children of the same sex under 16 in an alleged 3 bed property for which they are hit with the bedroom tax.  York, like every other local council, will not have gone out and visited all these properties before it made the bedroom tax decision and given that as a corporate body the council agrees that such a household could be overcrowded or at worst suitably accommodated with no spare bedroom then how can they impose the bedroom tax?

I am aware of scores of cases locally to me in which this household configuration of a couple with two same sex children reside in a purported 3 bed property yet both alleged bedrooms 2 and 3 are not 100 square feet yet the bedroom tax has been imposed.

This is just another of the perverse vagaries of the sham bedroom tax decisions that were made.  Yet given that the LGO found overcrowding and that a room of 82.88 square feet was only suitable for one child over ten AND that the council admitted and agreed to this then such an argument is just another persuasive argument for a bedroom tax appeal on room size and number of that mystical term ‘bedroom’ that IDS wants tribunals to believe is merely 4 walls built around a single bed giving a floor area of just 21 square feet or 1.95 square metres.

Just another bedroom tax appeal argument to add to the many already known!

 

 

Shove your housing ‘subsidy’ where the sun doesn’t shine!!!???

Housing associations correct name according to the housing regulator is PRIVATE Registered Providers. They are private companies not public sector companies as a matter of fact and many don’t see that given their charitable origins and status. Yet that is what they are.

All social landlords (HAs 60% and 40% council landlords) get derided with the tag that they are subsidised, which they are and yet they are not.  Social landlords receive grant of £1.125 billion per year as the latest settlement was £4.5 billion over 4 years as seen below.

capital funding

So yes social landlords collectively receive capital grant or capital subsidy – they are ‘subsidised’ but this is acutely misleading as it is never considered what they provide in return.  Or put another way WHY has successive governments ‘subsidised’ them as it is not for any altruistic purpose.

Firstly social housing is the ONLY place where the SODS can live – Sick, Old, Disabled, Supported tenants as the private rented sector landlords do not accommodate these ‘problem cases’ (excuse the language) as they simply do not fit into the profit-making PRS model.  The PRS do not do sheltered housing, they do not do adapted housing for those with disabilities etc as it costs too much.  Given that social housing is the only place where the SODS are able to live then it has by definition far more HB claimants and that also plays a part in the pejorative perception.

Secondly, and in purely economic terms, in return for this capital subsidy social landlords charge much cheaper rents and that translates into less cost for the taxpayer and public purse in terms of Housing Benefit.  If we look at the official HB data we see social landlords receive on average £85.66 per household in HB yet the private landlord charges and receives £106.80 per week.

This means the initial capital subsidy returns a saving of £21.14 per week or £1,100 per property per year LESS is paid by the taxpayer to the social landlord than to the private landlord.

The same latest figures have 3.34 million social tenants claiming HB and so if this ‘subsidy’ was not paid these social landlords would be charging the public purse and the taxpayer £1100 more on 3.34 million properties – or about £3.67 BILLION per year more.

In simple terms the subsidy that is always referred to in negative and pejorative terms actually saves the taxpayer a huge amount each year.  It is quite simply an invest to save project and has benefited all governments over many years.

SO – and here’s a really radical thought – why don’t housing associations tell the government to stick their subsidy where the sun doesn’t shine.  Bugger off minister we don’t want your pittance and instead we are going to charge the HB bill the same as the private landlord in HB.

Yes pretty far-fetched but not something to be dismissed as pie in the sky as the figures show.

Average PRS rent level is £165 or so per week and PRS landlords receive an average of £106.80 in housing benefit towards that.

If Housing Associations were to put up their average rent from £89.94 per week to this £106.80 per week – and note this is still significantly cheaper than PRS rent levels – then they would receive £16.86 more per week in Housing Benefit.  HAs have 1.925 million tenants claiming HB and so they would receive about £1.7 billion per year more in HB.

This of course would see the remaining council landlords all transfer their stock to become PRIVATE Registered Providers too and suddenly, the taxpayer is faced with a further 1.42 million ex-council rents receiving a further £2 billion per year in Housing Benefit.

That of course is NOT going to happen.  As apart from the huge taxpayer increase in cost it also means so many more will be made unemployed as current social housing tenants could not afford their existing jobs as their rent has increased.  It would also mean that all social housing becomes PRIVATE and so they could tell government to go bugger off in terms of accommodating the SODS – the Sick, Old, Disabled, Supported – which they alone do now.

Looking at social housing in this way, however much a flight of fancy in that such a move will never happen, is the right way to look at what social housing is.  Social housing provides huge economic benefits and economic savings to the public purse and it needs to be presented that way rather than seen as some dinosaur model of post-war council house building that is not fit for the 21st Century.

Where all of the above figures could and should be used, but never are, is in negotiations with the government of the day in which the social housing ‘sector’ is extremely weak and has been for decades as the old council house model has fallen out of political fashion. Social housing is not seen it is economic light which the above crudely outlines yet it needs to be. Instead we see this by stealth as HAs become the largest part of social housing by far accounting for 60% or more while the council housing percentage shrinks ever more.

Those HAs are increasingly becoming more and more private by the day as they develop their private arms and build more house for sale and introduce AR models, though perversely take on more responsibilities from ASB and now positioning themselves as best placed for work incentives for their tenants. Yet such services are bound to reduce as direct payment of HB is made to tenants shortly and all social landlords will not be able to afford to do such ‘housing plus’ services.

This incremental privatisation of social housing will lead to the radical position above of telling government to stick their subsidy where the sun doesn’t shine eventually as the social housing model is eradicated piecemeal by radical attacks such as the welfare reforms.  Social landlords have a strong negotiating position here of leading the agenda and being proactive with government rather than tugging their forelock and accepting whatever morsels the latest administration throws at them.

Time the ‘sector’ got off its backside and forced that agenda onto government and got government to cough up a realistic level of subsidy, oops sorry investment, that is in the best interest of the tenant, the landlord, the taxpayer, the employer and everyone else.  Social housing is a very cost-effective invest to save programme and all governments as well as Joe Public needs that ramming down their throats.

It is all too easy, and remiss, for the ‘sector’ to blame Right To Buy, albeit correctly, for the mess social housing is in and yes it is governments of all persuasions over the last 30 years that have not been supporting the social housing model when it is clearly in the best economic interest of the country and individual taxpayer to fully support it.  Those within the ‘sector’ – there is not even one lobby and one voice for it – need to look at themselves and their own roles in this demise.  They have not promoted social housing, never have yet badly need to and especially its huge economic benefits.  Instead they have sat idly by simply moaning about the problem rather than focusing on the solution to it.

The ONLY way social housing can be saved is if it gets its head out of its proverbial backside and starts selling the huge benefits of social housing; yet on past performance we can say that is not going to happen and the social housing model is dead and the speed of that death is rapidly accelerating for every day they sit blithely by and do bugger all about it.

I note there is going to be a housing demo marching to Westminster shortly and (no this is not made up) this is by ticket only invitation!! What the F…!   Somehow can’t see a noisy march with the chanting of

You can stick your housing subsidy up your arse,

You can stick your housing subsidy up your arse

You can stick your housing subsidy

Stick you housing sub-si-deee

Stick your housing subsidy up your arse!

Ah well, plus ca change!

UPDATE 22.40pm Mori just issued the top ten election priorities of Joe Public. Now surely the housing crisis is bound to make the Top Ten eh reader?  Ah!… What’s that couldn’t lobby their way out of a wet paper bag.  You may say that I couldn’t possibly comment!

mori hsg not in top 10

 

 

 

 

Why Farage should be FACT off

Farage is a snake oil salesman that for some reason the British electorate take at his word as is evident in opinion polls emerging last night that UKIP has 19% or almost one in five of the popular vote.  Farage is a one-trick pony and everything is the fault of the EU and the EU immigrant.  The EU has flooded or swamped poor old Blighty.  Yet the facts prove otherwise:

Is EU immigration a problem?

There are as many British people living in the 28 EU countries as there are EU citizens from these 28 countries living in Britain. Farage wont tell you this of course but the facts do and instead he promotes a line of lets ban EU nationals from living and send them back to these 28 countries.  Of course these 28 EU countries would play tit for tat and send back the Brits living there and we still have exactly the same number of people in the UK! So much for Polish plumbers or Romanian hop pickers stealing all our jobs.

All we have achieved is pissing off 28 countries with whom collectively we have the majority of our trade with. Here are the damn pesky facts which spoil the UKIP and Tory arguments and which have led to mass hysteria in the gutter press and all other media in the UK as they dance to the tune of Farage.

Is the EU a problem?

Those burghers in Brussels telling us what to do all the time is the essence of the UKIP message.  Now we see Cameron fearful for his political life stating – and yes actions do speak louder than words – that the EU can bugger off asking for £1.7bn more.  This all plays into the EU as bogey man myth and an organisation that dictates to us and to our sovereignty that emotive word which laughingly presumes the UK has any power to go it alone in the global economy.  (As an aside quickly search on “Bretton Woods” an international finance agreement the UK signed  in 1944 and any semblance of sovereignty was lost then)

So what does the EU do for us?  The following came on Twitter last night and note the provenance of this which is British business, the Office of National Statistics and the Treasury.   The vast majority of our trade is done with the EU which is what the Eurosceptics always say it was intended for in the first place, which of course the Eurosceptics simply try to brush off.  Notice too how suitably vague they are when questioned what happens to British trade should we pull out of the EU and what impact this will have on jobs which in turn affect every town, city, community and individual Brit.

eumembership

The above simple but stark graphic is what Farage doesn’t want the British public to see or know.

Personally I am very and unashamedly  Pro-EU which is not what you hear or read many admit to and purely because it is in the best interests of the UK to be in the EU based on a consideration of fact and not propaganda and myth spread by Farge, UKIP or the Daily Mail.  There are plenty of anti-EU persons in all major political parties of the left as well as the right and everyone should make up their own minds based on fact and not on the propaganda of the likes of UKIP.

Instead of simply believing whatever snake oil salesman like Farage says about good old Blighty being swamped or deluged with Johnny Foreigner look at fact and seek it out. Instead of straight bananas and all the huff and puff of the Daily Mail and others all aimed at painting the EU as crackpots and interfering so and so’s ask why this came about – which was to protect the banana crop our and the French former colonies in the West Indies against the dollar banana plantations of Ecuador, Costa Rica and elsewhere.

One final point.  Free movement.  That means we can retire or life and work in Spain or France or Italy or wherever, it is a two-way street.  It means nationals from the other EU28 can come and work here or retire here should they wish.  Free movement is one of the so called ‘four freedoms’ of the movement of goods, services, capital and people that was enshrined in our law in the 1986 Single European Act.

The Prime Minister then was Thatcher that well known lover of all things European! The PM adored by Farage and Cameron who raced this through the UK Parliament. The only positive policy she ever did.

Get a job or get evicted! The Tory benefit cap message and the end of social housing!

Social landlords are stupid enough to let the Tories kill off social housing as they simply don’t get what the welfare reform policies are all about.  None more so than the Overall Benefit Cap which social landlords stupidly believe is only a problem for the private landlord and in high rent areas.  Here is why social landlords are that stupid and why their apathy and lack of thought and lack of challenge will see the social housing model as we know it now disappear.  Time social landlords got angry and time they got off their backsides to challenge the highly dangerous and ill-conceived welfare reform policies rather than say there is nothing we can do!  Read on.

The Tories are set to announce that the overall benefit cap will reduce from £26,000 per year to £23,000 and thus ensure the end of social housing as we know it.  It is about time the apathetic social housing sector woke up and smelled the coffee as this proposal means they can no longer AFFORD to accommodate the same families they do now and they cannot AFFORD the risk of accommodating any family with 3 or more children.

According to the Daily Mail

Tens of thousands of families will have their benefits slashed by up to £60 a week under a new welfare cap, David Cameron will propose today.

Households would be unable to claim more than £23,000 a year in handouts for housing and living costs if the Conservatives win the next election.

And jobless youngsters would be stripped of benefits altogether under radical plans to save £300million.

Two years ago I spoke at a number of housing conferences in Birmingham and London and I told each audience that the overall benefit cap (OBC) would mean they could no longer afford to accommodate the larger family.  That argument was supported with detailed figures and based on the assumption then that the cap figure of £500 per week would rise with wage inflation and rents and welfare benefit levels would rise faster than this – the systemic flaw in the OBC I developed in 2012 which has not been disproved and cannot be.

The proposal to reduce the cap figure to £23k of £440 per week is an 11.5% further drop and makes the position of social housing so much worse than the systemic flaw I detailed.

The posit that social housing could not afford to house the larger family went down like a lead balloon with these housing audiences who (a) maintained the OBC only affected private rented housing and then only in the like of London and this is despite the OBC impact assessment saying 46% of those affected lived in social housing; and (b) social landlords maintaining that it is our ethos and we will always house those most in need – a laudable principle yet one that social landlords cannot sustain financially with a £26k cap and at £23k per year means radical change and the end of the social housing model as we know it.

Let’s look at the very basics of the OBC and social landlords once they see the figures this reduced cap figure gives WILL get the point that they cannot AFFORD to house the larger family any longer.

The overall benefit cap – How it works

How the cap works is very simple as you start with the cap figure and then take away the amount of welfare benefits received to leave the maximum residual HB or LHA that is payable.  With the current £500 per week cap take away the £396.69 of welfare benefits received which leaves a maximum and residual HB contribution of £103.31

The £396.69 per week is an exact figure which is the national amount of welfare benefit a couple with 4 children receive and note well that welfare benefits are at the same level whether you live in Land’s End or John O’Groats.

The £103.31 maximum HB payable will now reduce by a further £60 per week as the cap figure reduces from £500 to £440 per week and we have a couple with 4 children getting a maximum HB amount of £43.31 to pay for rent.

That couple cant afford social or any form of housing with the obvious outcome of get a job or get evicted.

Couple with 3 children – This 2 Parent 3 child (2P3C) household receives £330.32 in welfare benefits leaving £109.68 per week as the maximum HB payable if and when the cap figure reduces to £440 per week.  That will afford most social housing in the provinces, unless this household lives in an AR tenancy or in London.

The 1 parent 4 child (1P4C) household – receives £355.43 in welfare benefit leaving £84.57 as the maximum payable in housing benefit which is unlikely to cover rent in any social housing property across England.

Other factors play a key part to for social landlords.

The introduction of direct payment to the tenant that in and of itself creates huge financial risk to the social landlord needs to be viewed even more circumspectly in this reduced cap context.

Monthly payment of benefit to the social tenant and the ability of managing money is another factor.

The increased demands on social landlords as private tenants will undoubtedly be evicted and local councils will only be able to place these homeless families in social housing as that is the only suitable provision.  The 2P3C household with a maximum HB of £109.68 per week cant afford private housing right across the country.

The 2P2C household will have a maximum HB/LHA entitlement of £176.04 which will afford a social housing rent for a 3 bed property yet is not enough for a 3 bed private rented property right across the whole of the South East, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Bath, Bournemouth, Hertfordshire, Southampton and Edinburgh to name but a few.  Such 2 parent 2 child households will undoubtedly be evicted from the PRS and local councils will be demanding social landlords take these homeless families.  Yet what if they then have another child and their maximum HB reduces from £176.04 per week to £109.68 per week?

Forget any moralising here that such a family should not have any more children as quite often many children are unplanned and these things happen.  The same issue can be seen with a working family with 3 existing children and one on the way and then the lone breadwinner loses his or her job.  Or the sole breadwinner gets sick or is disabled with diabetes or COPD or some other issue – their social housing tenancy becomes hugely at risk and it is these risks that social landlords have to look at very closely rather than brush aside the overall benefit cap thinking wrongly this is only a high rent private housing matter.

Of course what the benefit cap reduction means is that the public purse pays out more in temporary housing for those made homeless.  Yet central government don’t give two hoots for that as this is just (another) transfer of cost and financial risk from central to local government, yet still a public purse cost increase.  Social landlords who are not council landlords are and will be coming up with more and more ways to put two fingers up to councils who will want these housing associations to take these higher risk cases – not because HAs want to do that, but because they will have to do that in order to survive financially!

Yes the relationship between councils and housing associations is going to become very strained with the OBC reduction and is yet another example of how the welfare reforms are a direct attack on the social housing model itself.

And of course the systemic flaw is still there too as it appears highly unlikely that the cap figure will rise along with wage inflation or rise at all.  Then throw into the mix that the Tories are proposing to increase HB by just one per cent from 2016 onwards regardless of how much the landlord increases the rent level. Yes that means no social tenant will be getting full rent paid and the social landlord will have to incur far greater rent collection costs too to get this shortfall (a mini bedroom tax anyone?) from all tenants including the pensioner – and I can’t see social landlords harassing them with red-inked letters as they have done with the bedroom tax household can you?

To cut to the chase the social landlord is in the shit if the Tories are not voted out and the benefit cap is reduced to £440 per week.  The social landlord will have to become acutely risk averse and cannot afford to house the larger family household as they do now and do now in massive proportion to the PRS.

These dimwitted Tories with their back of a fag packet policies are dictating that social housing no longer takes the type of households that social housing is now the only option for.  So where will such households go?  There is nowhere for them to live!  Outside of sterilising every female or selling the odd child to Madonna in order to keep a roof over one’s head where the hell will such families live!!!

Get a job or get evicted – I don’t care if you’re disabled – get a job or get evicted – I don’t care if your child is disabled and you have to care for them – get a job or get evicted – I don’t care if you are your partners full time carer and you are saying the public purse hundreds of thousands – get a job or get evicted!

That is Tory policy – get a job or get evicted – cue unscrupulous employers rubbing their hands with glee as the cannon fodder of National Minimum Wage workers has just grown dramatically so they can expand dramatically just as workfare expands as God knows how many more households will get sanctioned and social housing becomes ever more a financial risk too far and social landlords have to red-ink and doorstep the social tenant just as the social tenant takes control of the payment of rent with direct payment!

So dear social landlord, if you think the benefit cap only affects private rented properties in high rent areas keep making the annual pilgrimage to Cloud Cuckoo Land!

_______________________________________________________________

I haven’t discussed the even more naive proposal to stop HB to 18 – 21 year olds as the proposal is bizarre and under developed.  The Daily Fail suggests this will affect 30,000 single people yet that bears no correlation to the number of 18 -21 year old claiming HB currently as they record 130,361 single people under 25 with no child dependents and also 14.207 couples under 25 with no child dependents making 144,000 or thereabouts.  The 18 – 21 year olds should make up 4/7ths of this figure or about 82,000 of them so how the 30,000 figure is arrived at is anyone’s guess and a clear and obvious guess of the Daily Fail and the Tories.

Yet as PRS landlords will stop housing any young person because of this and also because such a policy is an incentive to have a child in order to get a roof over ones head….Yes you begin to see just how fucking naive and stupid this policy is too don’t you reader!

No need to say it also means 16 – 21 year olds can pay tax but not get HB; that soldiers injured and unable to work can’t get HB; that single women aged 16 – 21 can’t flee domestic violence and abuse as a refuge can’t afford for them to stay there given they will get no HB….oh and what about all those non-dependent deductions your tenants with 18 – 21 year olds at home will now get and they cant afford the rent?

Yes its a really fucking insanely stupid idea isn’t it reader and one dreamt up because the Tories believe the general public are stupid enough to believe their myth and spin about the benefit claimant …which the general public and the social landlord have done bugger all to challenge when they should have done… Oops this is turning into a rant…just as it did two years ago when social landlords ignored what the OBC means and told me that their ethos will mean they will always house the vulnerable!

Naivety writ large.  Apathy writ large.  Inability to see the woods from the trees writ large.  Oh but please carry on blaming this messenger and carry on developing AR units with foundations in quicksand as it mirrors your abilities in thought over the benefit cap.

Stop and think social landlord.  I rant because I am angry at what ill-considered and highly dangerous policy is doing to social housing.  You should get bloody angry about it too!

Lord Freud is not the L’Oreal man – His worth? Time he was FACT off

Lord Freud’s remarks were, by his own admission, offensive.  If he had said ‘blacks’ or ‘women’ or ‘gays’ were ONLY WORTH £2 per hour the true offence of his words come to the fore.

Note well I use ‘blacks’ and not black people as that is the same offensive and condescending label Freud use of ‘the disabled’ when he referred to this group of people.  The true offence of his words and thoughts were heightened by this condescension and bigoted use of language and especially in the context of discussing their worth.

It is extremely dangerous ground for any politician to open a debate about people’s monetary worth as then it opens up the meritocratic debate about how much they are worth – and in Lord Freud’s case that becomes a minus figure per hour.

Lord Freud, the architect of the bedroom tax and the (unelected) welfare minister charged with reining in the ‘burgeoning’ welfare benefit spend which the ‘last lot’ left the country in a mess with in the coalition view.  So let’s have a cursor glance at how much his tenure over the radical welfare reforms have saved UK plc.

Ah!

Yes the first point is that the overall welfare spend has increased by 13% since the election and that is a 13% increase in welfare benefits and a 13% increase in working tax credits too.

welfarebenspendfreud

On that simple analysis Lord Freud has seen the ‘hard working taxpayer’ (strange how that term is never used!) having to find an additional £44 billion per year on his plans all aimed at reducing the welfare spend which he has ‘burgeoned’ through his own incompetent policies.

Ah you say but a large part of that is the pensioner bribe, which admittedly all parties do when in office, and which all parties fail to tell Joe Public they take more than £2 of every £3 spent in welfare benefits.

wb£

Yet as you can see this has increased some more under this coalition moving from 66% to 68%

Yet lets leave aside the contentious issue of the pensioner spend as just raising that FACT – yes its one of those bloody pesky facts again reader – causes outrage. How dare you call the pensioner a scrounger (by inference) etc, when the “poor” pensioner only gets double the minimum amount of welfare benefit that the scrounging single working-age person.

In Freud’s case let’s look at Housing Benefit which he and his coalition ministers cite as the largest welfare benefit spend after pensions and which is the key target for the bedroom tax, benefit cap and the rest of the welfare reform policies.  Let’s look at his record there.

A month after the last election and after the first budget the coalition stated they would reduce the overall HB bill by nearly £2 billion per year by 2014/15 from the outrage of £20 billion they inherited from the last lot who they say had doubled the HB bill.

Today’s HB bill is in excess of £24 billion or £4 billion per year more not £2 billion per year less and is therefore £6 billion more as a direct result of the policies of Lord Freud.

So reader how much is Lord Freud worth judged by his record?

And while on the subject of the last lot ‘doubling’ the HB bill here are some more of those damn pesky FACTS which show that Freud, McVey,IDS and the increasingly politicised DWP civil servants have been lying through their teeth when discussing Housing Benefit

HB bill blair v thatch

As you can see the HB bill went up by 78% in 13 years of the last lot, which compares to Thatcher increasing it by over 6 times in her 11 years.  And those of you who can do basic arithmetic can see from the above that the HB bill went up from £5.095 billion to £11.38 billion in the 6/ years under the Major administration.

In summary Freud should be sacked for his performance and not just for his incredibly offensive remarks over people with a disability.

 

PS – Of all ironies all the above figures come from official data on benefit tables and caseload figures released by DWP in the same month that Freud uttered these truly offensive remarks and available here

 

 

I hate lies, try facts (2) – The EU and migration – as many Brits abroad as EU nationals here

There are as many British people living in the 28 EU countries as there are EU citizens from these 28 countries living in Britain.

So lets ban EU nationals from living here as UKIP et al want and send them back to these 28 countries.

Then these 28 countries send back the Brits living there and guess what we still have exactly the same number of people in the UK!

All we have achieved is pissing off 28 countries with whom collectively we have the majority of our trade with.

What a great plan this is eh reader!!

Here are the damn pesky facts which spoil the UKIP and Tory arguments and which have led to mass hysteria in the gutter press and all other media in the UK as they dance to the tune of Farage.

 

 

 

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