Bedroom Tax – How to get rid of it quickly and simply

Dear Bedroom Tax Affected Tenant.

This is a fully updated post on 16 March 2013 at 8pm and combines two previous articles that together say how you can get rid of the bedroom tax for good and very quickly.  Yes its long but it is worth reading and will only take 5 minutes.  It says why you should challenge the bedroom tax with a simple letter and gives a draft of that letter after having described what carnage and chaos a simple one-page letter from every bedroom tax affected tenant will create.  It will cost you a stamp or you can simply hand it in to your nearest council one-stop shop. 

Please read on:

This post looks at WHY and HOW every bedroom tax affected household should challenge their local council’s bedroom tax decision. It also explains using Liverpool City Council figures to illustrate the absolute pandemonium this will cause.

What do I mean by challenge?

Some tenants have received letters from their landlords to say the bedroom tax may apply to them.  Any such letter is simply a letter and for the bedroom tax to apply to any tenant your will receive a formal letter from the council HB department – a Notice – with regard to the bedroom tax decision.

When a decision is taken by the Housing Benefit department that the bedroom tax applies you will receive a “Benefit Decision Notice” (BDN) and this by comparison is a legal letter – a Notice. Even if your landlord is the council they will need to send you a formal letter from the Housing Benefit department.

The BDN will say how you can appeal the decision, which is a right, and I copy below what HB decision letters from Liverpool City Council say and wherever you live this will be very similar.  It says: -

“If you want to know more about this decision or think it is wrong, you must tell us within one month of this letter or we may not be able to help.

You can either:                     

  • Ask for an explanation

  • Ask us to look again at the decision

  • Appeal against the decision – this can only be in writing.  If you appeal against the decision an independent tribunal administered by the Tribunal Service will hear your appeal.”

In short – ‘explain’, ‘look again’ and ‘appeal’ are your basic options.  Any or all of these 3 options form the challenge.  You can write asking for the council to send a more detailed explanation to you which you can then consider with a view to issuing a later appeal within the month or asking the council to look again after they have sent you the more detailed explanation.

Why this will create pandemonium?

1. The scale

  • Liverpool has 5 parliamentary constituencies which form the City Council local authority area which issues Housing Benefit decisions.
  • The National Housing Federation issued a breakdown of bedroom tax affected households by parliamentary constituency.
  • As such we know that Liverpool City Council (LCC) has 12,649 bedroom tax affected households in these 5 constituencies.
  • Therefore LCC would need to consider 12,649 bedroom tax ‘challenges’ if everyone challenged
  • UPDATE (see comments) For the avoidance of doubt Liverpool has 43,460 social tenants claiming HB at latest figures.  The 12,649 is the number of those affected by the bedroom tax.

2. What does each ‘challenge’ involve?

  • The DWP (purported) impact assessment gives an estimate of each ‘appeal’ as a monetary cost of £200 to the council.
  • This gives a cost to LCC of 12,649 x £200 if we accept this extremely low DWP estimate of cost and a cost to LCC of £2,529,800 at face value.
  • Yet just as the tenant has a month to issue an ‘appeal’ or other form of challenge then LCC will need a policy of how long they will take to respond – probably a month as well – to explain, reconsider or refer to appeal at Tribunal.

3. Unpicking the LCC response needed

  • If we assess each hour of LA time at £25 or so  – which is what a few years back the government advised as a cost per hour for councils to use for processing Freedom of Information requests - then the £200 cost of an ‘appeal’ or challenge (the DWP figure) broadly equates to 8 hours of LCC staff time per appeal or challenge
  • The total staff time needed to consider 12,649 challenges becomes 12,649 x 8 hours – a total staffing time of 101,192 hours!!
  • 101,192 hours is one month’s staff time of 160 hours for approximately 632 full-time workers!

So Liverpool City Council would need 632 staff solely dealing with bedroom tax challenges

That assumes they need to do this in one month.  It further assumes that 8 hours of staff time per appeal or challenge is sufficient as per the DWP estimate. If further assumes each appeal or challenge is looked at by only 1 member of staff and doesn’t need 2 for example.

Even if they took a year to respond to each challenge this means 53 full-time staff!!

It further assumes LCC could find 632 or even 53 HB trained staff and LCC would be competing locally with Wirral, Sefton, St Helens, Knowsley, Cheshire West and Chester, and countless other LAs in a commutable area for these ethereal HB trained staff too

Of course every other council would be in the same boat of searching for HB trained staff.  So this is impossible unless IDS can wave a magic wand and produce trained HB decision-making staff out of the ether.

It assumes LCC has budgeted for the cost of 632 HB trained staff and has a spare £2.5m plus recruitment cost or more likely much higher agency costs. Will existing trained HB staff need to be paid more to retain their services? Yes so there’s huge additional costs to the public purse involved here isn’t there reader?

I don’t need to continue at all with this as it is patently obvious that the entire bedroom tax system would come crashing to its knees.

Put simply, if you want to put a figurative bomb underneath the bedroom tax and force the coalition to rethink, and rethink bloody quickly, as they will be heavily pressured from EVERY local authority to do something, then every bedroom tax affected household should exercise their right to challenge their bedroom tax decision does precisely that!

Social landlords would be adversely affected as well.  Their pre-existing arrears cases would likely see the tenant saying they are awaiting a decision or payment from HB, but this is taking forever as the system is clogged up with bedroom tax appeals and HB are way behind dealing with their normal workload! The district judge will likely adjourn and more arrears accrue on the rent account until HB decide.  The judiciary itself will be concerned over this and also when a huge increased number of formal appeals is sent to tribunals.  Will these need to be sitting 24 hours a day like magistrates courts did during the riots?  More public purse costs anyone?

So the government would also have social landlords and the judiciary lobbying hard with all the councils too and all of a sudden all of the actors (councils, landlords, tenants and the judiciary) on one side and all lobbying the coalition.  Remember this is an absolute right of appeal or challenge to a HB decision and perfectly lawful.  The government would have little option but to think again and very quickly.

There you have a lawful plan to rid the pernicious bedroom tax and quickly.  All it needs is a small effort and free contribution from some experts well versed in drafting arguments and experience of the HB appeals system – a couple of hours each would do it wouldn’t it?

One wonders why social landlords and particularly their lobby groups such as the CIH and NHF and others who, after all, are paid handsomely by their members the same social landlords to lobby on their behalf, hadn’t thought of this simple idea!

Anyone would think that social landlords wouldn’t benefit from transferring back to government the £500m per year financial risk of arrears this government imposed on them with the bedroom tax. 

Let’s be clear that is what the bedroom tax policy is a massive transfer of financial risk to social landlords and a thinly veiled attack on social housing – and why hasn’t the CIH or NHF or other sector lobby shouted that from the rooftops?  Just another tale of incompetency of the housing response to the bedroom tax anyone? Yes just like a worker in private housing needs £6,000 more in gross salary than a social housing tenant for the same job in order to pay the average £80 per week cost of private rent?  No that argument has never been put out either by the social housing sector either!  No argument that this means high private rents are a barrier to the take up of employment compared with social housing.  No argument that the taxpayer gives £1bn or so more in subsidy per year to private landlords than it gives n total to social landlord through this HB added beneft cost to privately rented housing either.

Anyone see an argument that the bedroom tax called the ‘spare room subsidy’ by the coalition should be called the ‘cost of room subsidy?’ 

Yes you’ve guessed the wonderful social landlord not put that argument out ther either…and as there are more spare rooms in privately rented housing than in social housing…oh don’t get me started!

Sources:

NHF figures on numbers of bedroom tax households here by constituency

DWP estimate of appeals here and section 54 says:

“…if 20,000 claimants chose to appeal the decision made on their Housing Benefit entitlement, DWP estimates the additional administration cost associated with these appeals would be approximately £4m.”

Sample letters of challenge that all 660,000 tenants can use are needed.  So come on people get circulating good quality sample letters of challenge and appeal and let’s get rid of this nasty pernicious drawn-up on the back of a fag packet bedroom tax policy.

Let’s each donate 2 hours of time and so every bedroom tax affected household can easily challenge its council for the cost of a first class stamp by simply cutting and pasting into their letter of challenge?

Isn’t the tenants lot stressful enough without having to trawl through the HB Regulations to see that, for example:

  • every council needs a policy to include where and when they refer a registered social landlord HB case to the Rent Officer; or
  • that this is standard practice for private housing yet the landlord is simply believed for social tenancies and as HB departments are ‘guardians of the public purse’ why do they discriminate against the social tenant here?
  • If a bedroom is what a social landlord says but not what a private landlord says cannot be fair can it?
  • Is that a blanket policy by HB departments, an unlawful fettering or restraint is the status quo!
  • Does the council have a policy on referring unsuitably large social housing accommodation to the Rent Officer?
  • What information was sent by the landlord to the HB department for HB to assess the bedroom tax?  Did this include unnecessary information outside of any protocol between HB and the social landlord?
  • How does the HB department determine what is a bedroom?  Is it just the acceptance of the social landlords word and what is the written policy where a claimant disputes that view?

How many separate challenges are there in that off the top of my head far from inclusive challenge list?

UPDATE – BEDROOM TAX MARCH DAY 16.03.2013

This ‘call to arms’ above received many responses for which so many thanks are deserved and resulted in one example of a standard letter to freely share. This is below.  It is a simple and reasonable request for further information from the tenant to the Council so the tenant affected by the bedroom tax decision can then consider whether to lodge a formal appeal based on having much more information on the facts of how the decision was reached. 

The guidance and other official documents released regarding the bedroom tax / under occupancy charge simply say the landlord informs the HB department whether a property has 1 bedroom or 2 or 3 or more and that is it.  It does NOT say definitively it is whatever the landlord says.  Further, the government and DWP have specifically stated they will NOT define what a bedroom is.  Yet how can you tax (or charge) something which you cannot or will not define?

There is no definitive guidance on how landlords share information with the HB department.  There are protocols in place that allow the sharing of information and information will have been shared.  Yet when did this information sharing take place? And what if the tenant is a foster carer or has a teenage son or daughter in the armed forces that were exempted just this week?  Would a social landlord know a tenant is a foster carer or has a teenage son in the armed forces? Probably not so the landlord could have inadvertently misinformed the Council’s HB department.  Further, what role the landlord played in this process will differ in Birmingham to Bristol or Bradford or Brent or Brighton.  It may well have different arrangements and processes between Landlord A and Landlord B within any town or city.

All any tenant knows is that there is an involvement of their social landlord in the HB department making the bedroom tax / under occupancy charge decision and no more than that.  Hence for a tenant to consider whether a formal appeal – the start of a legal process – is warranted or not, the tenant needs to have all the facts and not just assumptions within the bedroom tax decision-making process in their given local authority area

*******************************************************************************

Standard Letter

Dear Sirs,

I received your decision letter dated INSERT DATE and referenced above that imposed an under occupation charge, or bedroom tax of 14% / 25% (delete as appropriate) on my existing award of Housing Benefit.

I consider this unwarranted yet in order to challenge this in the correct way and potentially by way of formal appeal I require further information to be sent to me within 7 days of this letter and the urgency of that is to ensure I have enough time to formulate any such appeal and in full knowledge of the facts of my case within the time allowed; OR in the alternative I request the deadline for any such formal appeal be moved to 21 days after I receive the request information below:

1. A written copy of the Council’s policy and decision-making procedures in relation to referring a socially housed claimant decision to the Rent Officer Service.

2. A full explanation of how the council decided that (INSERT ADDRESS) was determined to be a 3 bed property for the under occupation charge and this to include what involvement if any of my landlord, (INSERT LANDLORD NAME) in this process.

Please state by way of covering letter with the requested information any changed deadline date from above with regard to a formal appeal.

Yours etc

************************************************************************************

Comments

Time is of the essence given how imminently the bedroom tax will be imposed.

The suggested wording is merely that, a suggestion, and not any form of legal advice or other formal advice from anyone involved.  There was general agreement that the wording could be better yet also general agreement that it articulates what tenants should seek, namely as much information as possible so as to consider whether they want to issue a formal appeal.  That is very reasonable for tenants to seek as are the requests for further information and the timescale issues and any letter of challenge should not be frivolous or give any reason to be perceived and dismissed as frivolous.

The full information requested is not available on any Council website normally and for any Council to simply suggest the tenant look on the website or even post it there assumes that all tenants are computer literate and have access to a computer and printer.  That is unreasonable for any Council to suggest we maintain. There is full agreement that any such standard letter needed to be simple, understandable by every tenant and each Council and not be ambiguous as well as being reasonable.  This we maintain is achieved.

At the risk of patronising, the HB Decision Notice the tenant receives will have the tenants HB reference number on and this needs to be put on any such letter.  The tenant National Insurance Number as well and of course date and sign and keep a copy. Finally, it just seemed right to release this on the day of 57 demonstrations and marches up and down the country against the bedroom tax.

Good luck to all 660,000 tenants.

NB – On or around 7 April and after the pernicious bedroom tax HB letters have been sent out I will – with a little help from my friends – discuss how to launch a formal appeal with the new information you have received from the standard letter above.  This will generate another (up to) 660,000 letters for every HB department to consider and respond to.  If you think this is because doing so now would tip the wink to all local councils then you are correct.

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59 thoughts on “Bedroom Tax – How to get rid of it quickly and simply

  1. Steve CK March 14, 2013 at 10:36 am Reply

    Very good points made. For posterity I probably would have dialled the numbers of eligible tenants down to about 75% as not all social housing tenants qualify for HB as they work and earn over the threshold. Even so, the cost basis of appeals based on 70 – 75% of tenants would still be phenomenal and cause absolute mayhem. It would hit the press, although I’d be interested to see the tone the right wing media took with it.

    • joehalewood March 14, 2013 at 11:14 am Reply

      You have misread the numbers or I haven’t articulated them sufficiently. The 12,649 is the number of social tenants on HB in Liverpool that are affected by the bedroom tax. Liverpool has 43,460 social tenants claiming HB in the latest HB statistics. So the 12,649 is the correct number using the NHF figures.

      • Steve CK March 14, 2013 at 11:44 am

        Ah right, I’m with you. Dear god, that’s beyond horrendous then! Everyone needs to appeal!!

  2. Debbie Price March 14, 2013 at 12:21 pm Reply

    This is VERY interesting indeed!! And could well be a way forward for all of us that are affected. If asking all our Landlords to look at their decision again. IS going to cost them a lot of money and time and clog up their systems then this HAS to be what we MUST all do!! It’s a practical/proactive thing we can all do. This article must be shared everywhere!! Thank you. Joe.

    • joehalewood March 14, 2013 at 12:26 pm Reply

      It means asking the HB department to look again not your landlord, at least not initially

  3. Keith Cannon March 14, 2013 at 1:23 pm Reply

    you mentioned in your write up various points on which a tennant has grounds for appeal could we not take each point as an individual appeal thereby multiplying the cost to the LAs & HAs many fold and at the end of that process we still have a tribunal which we all know costs a lot more than the governments £200 estimate to deal with one appeal the only way these people will listen is if we hit them where it hurts

  4. Keith Cannon March 14, 2013 at 1:42 pm Reply

    sorry follow up to my last posting LAs & HAs do have an option open to them they can make it policy that they will not persue through legal channels any tenants who will not or cannot pay the bedroom tax yes this will lead to a loss of revenue for them but they can argue that it is a cheaper option given the flood of appeals and tribunals they will face in the future in a futile exercise of trying to get blood out of a stone so to say

  5. bensansum March 14, 2013 at 1:59 pm Reply

    I don’t want to be negative, but I’m not sure what this is actually going to achieve?

    Two things stand out for me:

    1 – What grounds do youthink people should appeal on? An appeal that doesn’t contain an appealable ground can be dismissed very quickly. That the change isn’t fair, or that a household can’t afford to pay, or that a particular room is actually in use (by a disabled adult for example) may all be true, but aren’t appealable grounds under the legislation as it currently stands.

    &

    2 – All of the costs of dealing with HB appeals will be borne by the local authorities (who are already having unprecedented cuts made to their central government grants) so will just reduce funds available for other services within the LA. The people who are making these decisions (IDS, the DWP, & Parliament) will not be affected *at all* by chaos at local authority level (as this just reinforces their argument that LA’s are incompetent), and clogging up individual HB departments with appeals will just mean that new claims and change-of-circumstances notifications by other people will be delayed, leading to arrears and hardship for those individuals.

    As an attack on the welfare state this is actually very cleverly structured, because it is a distributed attack that only effects a small % of the total population (which is why people hoping for some kind of Poll-Tax level of civil disobedience are sadly going to be disappointed, I fear.) There is no ‘bedroom tax system’ per se – there is just the HB system which is currently administered at a local level (this will change with Universal Credit, but all the signs are the roll-out of that is going to be pushed further and further back…) so there is no bedroom tax system to bring crashing to its knees.

    Sorry to be negative – it is a horrible, vindictive change to the HB rules that needs to be overturned, but I’m not sure how the tactic in this post will actually achieve this.

    (PS – as was shown with the disabled children rules this week – and the pending disabled adults JR still waiting to be heard – overturning these rules is more likely to happen through coordinated legal action in the higher courts than individual HB depts.)

    • joehalewood March 14, 2013 at 2:23 pm Reply

      Ben

      As I explained a formal ‘appeal’ is one of three basic options of a challenge along with (a) asking for more information and (b) asking council to reconsider. It is easy to confuse this with (c) a formal appeal.

      Yet if. for example, all 660,000 tenants wrote to their council asking for copies of their policy on determining a bedroom tax liability and policy on when they refer a RSL tenancy to the rent officer service and an explanation of how in specific terms the council liaised with the landlord – all of which are (a) asking for more information as a fact finding mission to see whether the response could give rise to a formal appeal (c) then the same meltdown of the ‘system’ occurs. There is a system, the bedroom tax system outside of the 4 pilot areas is the HB system currently in place.

      Your second point about hurting LAs and not IDs, DWP or central government of course holds some validity and unfairness to LAs in the immediate mass appeal; yet there is more than one way to skin a cat applies here as I explain. Very, very quickly ALL LAs will be outraged to the cost and workload and impacts, as will RSLs and the judiciary who will all put pressure on the government (and imagine the media coverage!!) who will have to respond. The term ‘omnishambles’ wont come anywhere near close to describing in my view!

      Finally, and disregarding my view point on how this will cause chaos, it is the right of every HB claimant to ‘appeal’ as the DWP errantly describe the right of challenge and if somebody was taking 14% or 25% of my money away then I’m sure I would challenge that if I had the right to do so.

  6. Keith Cannon March 14, 2013 at 2:48 pm Reply

    well put joe

  7. Jenny Penney March 14, 2013 at 10:45 pm Reply

    don’t know what to do about this bedroom tax, i have got a bedroom house and i have a speare bedroom, if i want to down size to a 2 bedroom house, as i can not afford the bedroom tax really i dont know what to do stay put or down size, my locail council are not very good help at all

  8. Jenny Penney March 14, 2013 at 10:51 pm Reply

    3 bedrooms house

  9. PegstarM (@PegstarM) March 14, 2013 at 10:55 pm Reply

    Well done Joe,hope everyone takes your advice,we need people like you.

  10. tolstoyrocks March 15, 2013 at 11:42 am Reply

    As I understand it, once a formal appeal has been launched and a decision made, the claimnant has no further recourse?

    If this is indeed true, then claimnants need to avail themselves of all three vehicles and first ask for an explanation. This will provide all the facts needed to ask for a review of the decision and only after any failure to have the decision reversed at review, make the formal appeal.

    • joehalewood March 17, 2013 at 9:51 pm Reply

      That is not true. A formal HB appeal can go through the Tribunals process and all the way to the higher courts and Supreme Court if necessary.

      • Debbie Price March 18, 2013 at 10:20 am

        If we do decide to make a formal appeal and go through the courts. Re: Tribunals. They are stopping Legal Aid aren’t they?? So, how would we fund such an appeal. AND find a solicitor to take your case on?? Seems to me, if there is no legal aid. They have us by the short and curly’s!!???

  11. Debbie Price March 15, 2013 at 12:17 pm Reply

    I have shared this post all over facebook. As I feel it’s very important. And something people can do, to be proactive. Otherwise, what do we do? Roll over and just take it?? A lot of people have already received letters from their councils HB Dept. Saying how much they have to pay. This is BEFORE the rents go up. PLUS many have to pay CT aswell.
    It is a 2 stage thing, if I’ve understood it properly? First ask for information. And asking them to re-consider. And then once you have their reply. See if you can do a formal appeal?
    The object is, to cause chaos and cost them money. MAYBE then they will complain to Government. We have just 2 weeks before this comes into force….. We must fight back.
    The government have already done a couple of ‘U turns’. We need to put even more pressure on them. Keep fighting back.
    There is more media coverage now. Many people still have the idea that we are all scroungers etc.
    Did you watch Question time last night?? And, This week??
    I for one am off to write letters. And, I can only urge everyone to do the same!!

  12. rainbowwarriorlizzie March 15, 2013 at 10:25 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on HUMAN RIGHTS & POLITICAL JOURNAL and commented:
    In Solidarity!! Keeping an eye on SP and supported housing!!

    • Debbie Price March 16, 2013 at 10:54 am Reply

      Do you think we can use the same process with Council Tax??
      Every council are deciding what to do with regard to people paying Council Tax.
      And for many, many people on Benefits. They are having to pay council tax, for the FIRST time. God knows how!! On top of the BT.
      So, surely they can challenge this in the same way??
      I belong to a vey large group of people on Facebook. fighting the BT. Every day, I read about the desperation of what people are going through.
      How can someone on JSA for example, pay all their bills. The BT, council tax. Have very litle money for food. People are going hungry. Sitting in the cold, because they can’t afford to have any heat.
      Is it any wonder that people feel suicidle??
      this government have blood on their hands!!

      • joehalewood March 16, 2013 at 11:17 am

        My initial view is unfortunately no. The decision to impose council tax on new cases is an entirely subjective one of every council whereas the bedroom tax is determined by fact and can ONLY apply to those the rules and regulations say it can or may apply to. I will think some more on this but I suspect this initial view I have won’t change

  13. towardchange March 16, 2013 at 8:24 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on English law.

  14. Andrew Bowler March 18, 2013 at 11:31 am Reply

    so when you are given state benifits like JSA or income support it states that this is the minimun amount the goverment says you need to live on so by making people pay a share of council tax and this new bedroom tax are not the goverment forcing you to live on below what they state you need to live on, so more families will be forced to live below the poverty line

  15. [...] 4) Resisting: For resistance to be effective, it needs to be co-ordinated and it needs lots of support. Hopefully one outcome from the public meeting will be a beginning of a network to physically stand with those being affected by the tax from eviction/baillifs, spreading information, and helping people access information and support. Along with physical resistance, another way to combat the tax is in blocking the system with challenges and appeals. It appears that Birmingham residents are not intending to comply with the planned rehousing program, and this site here gives lots of information about how to go about doing this in terms of using the official systems. [...]

  16. [...] bedroom tax and may make politicians realise that it’s more trouble than it’s worth. See this excellent site for how people affected can block, delay and generally irritate those imposing the bedroom [...]

  17. Eleanor Firman March 18, 2013 at 7:09 pm Reply

    How will this strategy (which I support btw) affect those currently receiving funds like ILF which are being devolved but not ring-fenced? Much smaller group affected but far more profoundly disadvantged – these disabled people are being forced into institutions and no resolution yet on poor standards here. Just nervous about unintended consequences…

  18. Shaz Winship Mckenna March 18, 2013 at 11:41 pm Reply

    what is it gunna be next i thought ya take off the rich to help the poor its the other way round if ya ask me there all out f them selves these days

  19. carolecarrick March 19, 2013 at 7:39 am Reply

    Reblogged this on Carole….

  20. Julie Allwood March 21, 2013 at 12:07 am Reply

    read with intrest, I support adults with LD and we are fighting this tax as best we can, Today we had a new fight added, the cuts in council tax benifets… one lady has lost 25% of her benifet and now has to find an additional £125 a year…

    • Debbie Price March 21, 2013 at 9:59 am Reply

      This is going to be a very common scenerio. Many, many people have also got to pay council tax on top of the BT. I have to pay 25% BT and £136 a year CT also. I don’t know how??
      I think we should all be writing to our councils and appeal. As well as writing about the BT.
      I also think we need to write to the DWP. And tell them what our situation is and how much we are going to have to pay out of our Benefits. When you get your award notice it says: This is the amount the Law says you need to live on!!! Which is now a complete joke!!
      I am Disabled and get DLA. That money is meant to be for my care. NOT, for paying rent and council tax.
      Many, many people can’t afford to eat, put their heating on.
      Is it any wonder people are committing suicide. And there will be more. People simply can’t cope.
      the ‘Budget’ does nothing to help us at all.

  21. Debbie Price March 21, 2013 at 10:17 am Reply

    I also wanted to say, about these councils that are saying they won’t evict. We are still going to get in arrears. So what does it mean, in practice??
    Lets not forget that the majority of our rent is still being paid to our Landlords. LESS the 14 or 25% shortfall.
    I believe we should pay £1 a week. Which shows willing. Does that give us any protection if they do try to evict??
    If it’s a case of can’t pay, not, won’t pay?
    If these cases go before a Judge. These will be NEW and UNIQUE cases, that they have never seen before. Will that make a difference??
    I guess there will be ‘test cases’.

    I think perhaps everyone should find out about Baliffs. And what they, ‘legally’ can and can’t do. So, we are prepared.

  22. [...] has been argued here that all tenants affected by the bedroom tax / under occupancy charge put in writing a challenge [...]

  23. Stephanie Jill Rudd March 27, 2013 at 8:58 am Reply

    Via your blog, and my own association with tenant group up here in Highlands of Scotland, I am passing this on, and rest assured…we will be doing our best to clog the system up! Thank you for your hard work and fact finding on this.

  24. Athena Wooster March 27, 2013 at 9:31 am Reply

    Our Council sent advisors out to appraise tenants of the Housing Benefit changes. One thing mentioned was about spare bedroom size and a measurement of under 7ft was mentioned. Several people in this area have had their rooms measured with a view to getting the room reclassified as a box room and therefore not a bedroom. We are pursuing this route ourselves and will keep you updated about the outcome.

    Meantime as April 1st fast approaches we will also be submitting an appeal request letter. Decision letters have been dated 2nd March allowing little opportunity for deciding whether to challenge the decision.

  25. [...] Bedroom Tax – How to get rid of it quickly and simply. [...]

  26. Richard Blakelidge March 27, 2013 at 11:37 am Reply

    I have just spoken to my local housing benefits unit via the telephone. One lady who very conveniently (for her) did not give me a name, told me there is no right of appeal !!!

    Upon realising she had not identified herself I decided to ring back immediatley and establish just who I had dealt with. Bear in mind my second call was made less then one minute after the first call had ended. The person who dealt with my enquiry could not be identified (apparently) as she had not put any notes on the system!! I expressed concern at this and insisted the upon the name of the current person handling what was in effect my second enquiry, she obliged immediately. We then had a very interesting conversation during which she repeatedly tried to bamboozle me into the false belief first put by her colleague. Poltely but firmly I countered by quoting the three stated options on the back of their own documentation, which clearly refers to a right of appeal. the lady tried repeatedly to waffle me into a false perception. She worked hard enough in this respect to break into a sweat, admitting that if claiments were to choose option 1 and write for a clarification it would cause mayhem and anyway there would be no point as we do not have the right of appeal!!!!!!!!!

    Was I speaking chinese or Martian? No, just very plain english. How could I be speaking to a council officer who is presumably an intelligent human being and yet she seemed unable to grasp the fact that by insisting there to be no right of appeal she was contradicting her employers own paperwork!!

    My interpretation of the above is simply that people working for the Supposed authorities are increasingly prepared to lie against the facts in order to preserve their salaries and jobs. Indeed
    it would be completely in the interests of the employer not only to secretly condone the lies but also to train the staff in the art of obfuscation.

    It is obvious to me the various councils are aware of our right to execise the options provided and they know full well of the chaos the will faceupon receipt of such correspondence. It is their intention to put off anyone who enquires, after all every person who allows themselves to be put of using their options means one less piece of effort for the council.

    My message is quite simple: for councils to be so worried about a letter onslaught that they are prepared to fly in the face of truth & fact tells me something-they are worried sick at the prospect. In my book this means Joe is spot on with his analysis and therefore his methodolgy is right where it should be, ON THE Money!

    Thanks Joe.

  27. Richard Blakelidge March 27, 2013 at 11:56 am Reply

    I have just spoken to my local housing benefits unit via the telephone. One lady, who very conveniently (for her) did not give me a name, told me there is no right of appeal!!!

    Upon realising she had not identified herself I decided to ring back immediately and establish just who I had dealt with. Bear in mind my second call was made less then one minute after the first call had ended. The person who dealt with my enquiry could not be identified (apparently) as she had not put any notes on the system!!

    I expressed concern at this and insisted the upon the name of the current person handling what was in effect my second enquiry, she obliged immediately. We then had a very interesting conversation during which she repeatedly tried to bamboozle me into the false belief first put by her colleague. Politely but firmly I countered by quoting the three stated options on the back of their own documentation, which clearly refers to a right of appeal. The lady tried repeatedly to waffle me into a false perception. She worked hard enough in this respect to break into a sweat, admitting that if claimants were to choose option 1 and write for a clarification it would cause mayhem, and anyway there would be no point; as we do not have the right of appeal!!!!!!!!!

    Was I speaking Chinese or Martian No, just very plain English? How could I be speaking to a council officer who is presumably an intelligent human being and yet she seemed unable to grasp the fact that by insisting there to be no right of appeal she was contradicting her employers own paperwork!!

    My interpretation of the above is simply that people working for the Supposed authorities are increasingly prepared to lie against the facts in order to preserve their salaries and jobs.

    Indeed it would be completely in the interests of the employer not only to secretly condone the lies but also to train the staff in the art of obfuscation.

    It is obvious to me the various councils are aware of our right to exercise the options provided and they know full well of the chaos the will face upon receipt of such correspondence. It is their intention to put off anyone who enquires, after all every person who allows themselves to be put off using their options means one less piece of effort for the council.

    My message is quite simple: For councils to be so worried about a letter onslaught that they are prepared to fly in the face of truth & fact, tells me something-they are worried sick at the prospect. In my book this means Joe is spot on with his analysis and therefore his methodology is right where it should be, ON THE Money!

    Thanks Joe.

  28. Nigel Robinson March 27, 2013 at 12:23 pm Reply

    Thank you – just thank you. Have shared to local pressure group via Facebook.

  29. sayit2day March 27, 2013 at 3:13 pm Reply

    A lady I know is being evicted from her home. In fact she was supposed to be out by the 25th of this month. She has nowhere to go. She has been on incapacity benefit through various health problems including mental health and PTSD. It is a long story but will try and keep this short. She is 53. She has already had to fight an ESA tribunal and won, her rent is incredibly high as she was put here in an umbrella agency dealing with vulnerable people (she had to flee a very bad case of domestic violence) She has done everything she knows how to sort the mess out she was left in, now on top of facing homelessness, still being ill, and also suicidal, she has to find money to pay towards her huge rent on April 1st (she lives in a flat which is around £900 a month, the same flat underneath her pays less than half of that as it was rented directly from the landlord, the council have been paying the landlord this huge rent in HB for her as she was homeless when having to flee) She has now just been informed that because she will have to be taken to court to evict her as she has not gone by the 25th ( this is by the housing association who worked alongside the council in finding her this flat) She will have to pay the court fees too. They are evicting her because the landlord refused to do a deal in reducing her rent after being on a cushy number with this huge sum for a number of years. She is going to write to her local MP and wondered whether to write to DC too, though he probably has no interest to read it. There are more disturbing facts than this too in her story . Her case seems to be quite singular in some regards and she is not sure who to speak to.

    • joehalewood March 27, 2013 at 3:38 pm Reply

      You need to speak with Shelter or a community legal advice centre as a matter of urgency

  30. Janice Lewin March 27, 2013 at 4:44 pm Reply

    Many thanks. I am writing my letter now . As I recieved my notification today 25%.

  31. Derek Winder March 27, 2013 at 5:39 pm Reply

    wrote my letter.

  32. Derek Winder March 27, 2013 at 5:44 pm Reply

    the sooner this cruel tax is scrapped,the better,and remember,all you MPs/Councillors,heads will roll beginning in may when we cast our vote!!

  33. Derek Winder March 27, 2013 at 5:50 pm Reply

    how do I add this page to my facebook page?

  34. Sabrina Leonard (@sabsleonard) March 27, 2013 at 10:06 pm Reply

    i received my notification today 27/3 the date on my letter is 4/3 doesn’t leave much time to make an appeal good job i am free tomorrow to hand deliver my letter to them……….. I bet the date was purposely done

  35. [...] other options are possible and are already being explored to circumvent the tax, such as redesignating bedrooms. [...]

  36. [...] Numerous other options are possible and are already being explored to circumvent the tax, such as redesignating bedrooms. [...]

  37. John Ingleson March 30, 2013 at 3:31 am Reply

    Please sign the “STOP the Bedroom Tax” petition at
    http://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/bedroom-tax
    Thank you.

    • Debbie Price March 30, 2013 at 9:32 am Reply

      Hi Joe. Just to let you know, we have now set up a page/group on Facebook.
      Specifically for people who do want to appeal the BT.
      With all the information on there from you.
      If anyone is interested in joining??
      Bedroom Tax Appeal Group

      Amazingly, many people have not yet received a letter from their council on the amount they are expected to pay!!
      My advice has been to send the first letter anyway.

  38. shifro March 30, 2013 at 11:19 am Reply

    Joe with all due respect there is something radically wrong with your sample letter which appears to have gone viral. You talk about the ‘Rent Officer@ but this is not relevant to council tenants whose rent is set by the government guidelines and the council landlord.
    For Housing Association tenants same thing – I belive its the Homes & Communities Agency (used to be Housing Corporation) and the landlord (needs further checking). The rent officer definitely comes in for private rented accomodation. Has this sample letter been checked by a trained and experienced welfare rights worker?
    Also although there is an issue with rents the real problem is the cuts in Housing Benefit.
    This is what we are fighting back on along with all the other cuts. As it stands from my point of view as an ex-advisor who still keeps a copy of one of the most used benefits manuals
    I would not give this wording out to anyone. I dont even understand it myself and I am very experienced. I agree with writing letters but I would trust the tenant to find a form of words based on their own particular circumstances and grievances. This may or may not produce a desired result but it fulfills the aim of the National Campaign for Benefit Justice whiich is to make it unworkable. If I am wrong in anything I said I am open to criticism. I am sure we are onthe same side but tenants need stuff they can understand.

    • joehalewood March 30, 2013 at 11:39 am Reply

      Shirley – look at the online Housing Benefit Guidance Manual (HBGM) and in section A4 where RSL rents can be referred to the Rent Officer – when rents unusually large or accommodation unusually large. As for wording I agree and produced an updated version which says put this in your own words

  39. Dave Phillips March 30, 2013 at 7:55 pm Reply

    I will be following the advice on here thanks Joe, I hope many many more will do the same.

  40. Tim Annakin April 2, 2013 at 9:09 am Reply

    my council (north somerset) has not yet given me a decision on my application for discretionary payment for the bedroom tax. I live in a 3 bedroomed council flat that has been modified to meet my requirements, as i have a disability. . on 5/3/2013 the prime minister announced in the house of commons that those needing 24 hour care would be exempt from paying. my council says thats not true!!! i wonder if anyone else has encountered this pacific problem?? if i can find out who is not telling the truth can i sue them perhaps for giving false information in public office?? in the mean time i am about to follow your advice and begin the procedure set out by you. many thanks . timmy john anners..

    • Athena Wooster April 2, 2013 at 11:02 am Reply

      Tim it was widely publicised after the PMs statement that he had got it wrong. Good luck with the Discretionary Housing Payment. It is temporary even if you get it. In East Devon you are expected to take debt advice if you apply for DHP. Are all your rooms more than 50 square feet? Some people, us included, are trying to get box rooms reclassified.

      What a farce that you would be expected to go through all the trouble of converting your home if you were to move, which most people are strongly opposed to.

      Good luck in fighting this draconian measure.

  41. [...] SPeye blog has a great post highlighting the possible impact of widespread challenge of housing benefit changes and advocating [...]

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