Under existing Housing Benefit Regulations (HBR) the mixed-age pensioner couple are not affected by the bedroom tax. Yet come April, just 30 days time, the mixed-age pensioner couple will be affected by the bedroom tax as UC needs both to have reached pension qualifying age, and so when not if, they have a change in circumstances UC regulations will apply.
From April Universal credit is being introduced in Oldham (14,660) Tameside (15,480) Wigan (18,590) and Warrington (9,880) and the numbers in brackets are the latest figures for the number of HB claimants in those areas. They total 58,610.
The bedroom tax affects 660,000 social tenants according to DWP claiming HB out of a total of 3,391,410 total social tenants receiving HB yet the CIH reveals that there are 67,000 on top of the 660,000 who are the mixed-age pensioner couples which the DWP estimate doesn’t factor in.
67,000 out of 3,391,410 is 1.98% of all social tenants claiming HB are the mixed-age pensioner couple. So 1.98% of the 58,610 HB claimants who will have their benefits assessed under UC regulations in just 30 days time sees 1,160 mixed-age pensioner couples hit by the bedroom tax in these 4 areas.
Wigan which has 18,590 HB claimants will statistically see 368 mixed-age pensioner couples hit by the bedroom tax from April, so more than 1 per day. I choose Wigan here as (a) it has the highest number of HB claimants, and (b) because Wigan and Leigh Housing (WALH) is one of the few social landlords who have challenged the bedroom tax in public and deserve many plaudits for that. It also means Wigan is the most likely area – ceteris paribus - to see the first pensioner hit by the bedroom tax and WALH is most likely of all social landlords in these areas to make a big noise about it!
Of course any of these 4 areas may be a statistical aberration, possibly being like Eastbourne in the South East or Southport in the North West which are presumed to have a large number of older persons: Maybe they have a disproportionate amount of cougars and sugar daddy’s than the rest of the population at large – I know of no statistical data on that subject!!
Which of course leaves a definition of a change in circumstances! What does this mean? An answer is found in one of the comments on another of my blogs which reads: -
I emailed DWP asking for clarification of ‘Change in Circumstances”, and have just had the following reply:
“A change of circumstances is a change that affects the records that are currently held by the department for a claimant. For example, a change in circumstances could be an increase/decrease in income, savings or capital, or a non-dependent coming to stay with the claimant for a period of time.”
In other words almost anything and everything.
Take the increase / decrease in income for example. The near pension age member of the mixed-age couple works an hour or so more or less. Perhaps his or her private pension such as superannuation which allows you to receive before full retirement age goes up in April – this is a change in circumstances and means the transitional protection ends and the new claim due to these CIC is dealt with under UC rules and not the current rules. It could be that your elderly parents or a relative dies and leaves you some money or your son or daughter splits up with their partner and comes to stay or you become a kinship carer (that’s an unpaid foster carer who look after kin, often grandchildren – which the state gets away with paying for and there are about 300,000 of them in the UK and who also wont count as part of your household for bedroom tax purposes like paid for foster children!) - in short any typical occurrence that can happen is a CIC.
The bedroom tax will apply and the mixed-age pensioners couple in these 4 areas become the first to have it applied.
PS – Apart from stating that pensioners WILL be affected which will resonate with so many who see the political importance of this, and not least that the government has lied about it, the inclusion of the kinship carers is a point I have not seen raised before in the bedroom tax debate.
These kinship carers do exactly the same job as foster carers except they have the children 365 days a year and need the alleged “spare” bedroom or bedrooms 365 days per year too.
300,000 families do provide free support to their kin and are mostly not paid for this by the state public purse. Many will be affected by the bedroom tax as the grandsons, grandaughters, nieces and nephews they take in and care for and bring up for whatever reason their parents are not around, can’t include these as household members for bedroom tax purposes. Social services call these arrangements ‘private fostering’ ones so presumably they will be treated the same as foster parents and the children do not form part of the household? More often than not the kinship carer doesn’t have the Child Benefit book and so in HB terms doesn’t claim HB for their kin and so the bedrooms they use are for bedroom tax purposes ‘spare!’
Yes you can take in your 3 grandsons because their mum your daughter has mental health or even drug addiction issues and you are the only alternative to the state taking them into care and costing £100k per child per annum and have them share one bedroom yet you are still underoccupying as far as the bedroom tax is concerned.
Grandma saves the state £300k per year and is then hit by the bedroom tax!!
Apart from this revealing what an ignorant and heartless bunch of bar stewards we have in government, these 300,000 kinship carers are also competing for the same miserly DHP budget of £50m per year with all the ‘disabled’ and other worthy cases, including the mixed-age pensioner! If just 25% of these kinship carers are hit by the bedroom tax then their £14 per week average bedroom tax deduction then this forgotten and not-factored-in group alone would swallow up the entire DHP budget!