Category Archives: Uncategorized

64% more sleep on London streets due to coalition neglect

Grant Shapps the Conservative Party Chair used to be the minister for housing and in 2009 when shadow minister in opposition constantly attacked the numbers of rough sleepers in London that Labour has allowed to happen.

On taking office a press release said:

gs1

As you can see Grant Shapps was a man of his word and followed through with his hubris of the pre-election period and changed the way counts were taken.  He also announced No Second Night Out (NSNO) as a new policy that would as its name suggests ensure that nobody slept rough for more than one night.

Yet today we see the following news release:

gs2

As you can see rough sleeping in the capital has increased by 64% since the election and since the erstwhile Grant Shapps said he was going to reduce rough sleeping.

There is even a graphical representation of the figures, a graph so simple that even Grant Shapps and his Conservative Party colleagues can understand (and of course not deny as a lie).

gs3

Yet it is all too easy to castigate and blame Grant Shapps although extremely valid to do so as this staggering 64% increase happened on his watch and as Grant Shapps wants and did give it out to ‘the last lot’ then he has to take the criticism of his own inept efforts.

Yet the real issue is that these horrendous figures will not gain any media attention at all as they concern rough sleepers and they may as well sleep rough in Gaza such is the level of mainstream media attention they will get.

There are over 4000 people, yes that’s human beings the same as you or I, living roofless in just London alone and the fact this will not receive any awareness or attention let alone any scrutiny in any allegedly civilised society is a damning indictment of how immune we have all become in these times of what is euphemistically called ‘austerity.’

This is not austere this is deeply deeply offensive and is it just pure coincidence reader that over 4000 homeless bed spaces at hostels have been lost in this time too?

In summary, sorry to have troubled you reader, this is just my conscience (personal and professional) ranting here, don’t trouble your head thinking about these undeserving roofless people that we as a society ignore because we label them undeserving. its far easier to make the point that Tory policy chronically failed than to discuss these (literally) great unwashed and no doubt the Mail or the Telegraph will label them all as foreigners anyway…I’m pretty sure Shapps will have already sent the copy over saying these are Eastern Europeans…yes the same who have taken all our British jobs apparently yet sleep on the streets….which of course means that if we (ie John Bull white-faced British) had taken these jobs then we couldn’t afford a roof over our heads too surely?

Ho hum!

The bedroom tax DHP postcode lottery

If you live in Copeland you have a 6% chance of getting a bedroom tax DHP: Yet if you live in Westminster it is a 169% chance! Yes you read that correctly and below here is a little graph which shows this starkly:

dhp-bedroomtax chance

Here is the maths bit which is pretty simple so bear with me.

  1. The DWP release Housing Benefit statistics which shows at February 2014 there were 914 bedroom tax households each losing £21.71 per week on average in Westminster.
  2. Yearly this is £1,132.79 per household and with 914 households gives a total bedroom tax cut in Westminster of £1,035,376 per year.
  3. The DWP also released the HB circular S1/2014 which details how much each local authority gets per year in total DHP and Westminster received £4,821,711 for 2014/15 in DHP of which just over 36% at £1.75m (yes more than the total bedroom tax) was given.
  4. Of this £165m total DHP to all councils the DHP has given £60m of this for bedroom tax or just over 36% of all DHP is allocated to councils to pay for bedroom tax.

Westminster was allocated £1,753,348 for bedroom tax DHP yet its total bedroom tax cut was £1,035,376 – Or as the graph above shows Westminster’s bedroom tax DHP was equal to 169.34% of its total bedroom tax cut. This equals the % chance of receiving a bedroom tax DHP.

Copeland has 1,409 families hit with an average £14.11 per week bedroom tax making a total cut of £1.037m per year which is very similar to the £1.035m total bedroom tax in Westminster.

Yet Copeland was only given total DHP of £171,911 of which just £62,513 was allocated for bedroom tax DHP – or just 6.03% of the total cut and a mere 6.03% chance of getting a DHP! Yes that means you have 28 times the chance of getting a DHP for bedroom tax if you live in Westminster than if you live in Copeland in the North West!

The DWP data published in February 2014 (below) some 6 months ago reveals – as an aside here – that there are 498,174 households hit by a weekly bedroom tax that averages £14.40 which means the total bedroom tax cut is £374.3m in a year and not the £500m that IDS, McVey and Freud keep saying it is.  This cut is the maximum amount of ‘savings’ the bedroom tax can make mathematically and that assumes there are no costs such as DHP or others to set against it.  Note too that the most recent figures reveal 471,000 or so households hit and below this 498,174 figure used here and significantly below the 660,000 households the DWP estimated in June 2012 that would be affected.

bedroomtaxnov13

The DWP issued the HB circular S1 of 2014 which lists the total amount of DHP at £165m and included in that a sum of £60m for the bedroom tax or in its words RSRS.

To return to the bedroom tax DHP issue here is a graph of the worst places to live if you want to claim a DHP for your bedroom tax:-

dhp-bedroomtax lowest chance

The differences in DHP allocation for the bedroom tax are stark as the regional distribution below shows

dhpregional

To explain the above we see London (inner and outer) has a bedroom tax cut of 14.64% of the £374m total UK bedroom tax cut which is £54.8m cut yet receives £18.7m of the bedroom tax allocated DHP or 31.28% of this £60m.

By contrast the North West has 15.29% of the national bedroom tax cut at £57.26m (and more than London) yet receives just £6.37m in bedroom tax DHP or 10.62% of the national £60m bedroom tax DHP.

London as you can see is the only area of the country that gets more than a fair share of bedroom tax DHP and the contrast with the North West is a case in point.  The North West has a bigger bedroom tax cut at £57m to London’s £54m yet London gets 3 times the amount of bedroom tax DHP than the North West.

Postcode lottery?

Yes and No.

On an inter regional basis London at a 34.25% chance gets far more in DHP bedroom tax allocation than any other region with the North East tenant only having a 9.4% chance on average and yes that means you have 4 times the chance of getting a DHP in London than in the North East so there is an undoubted regional postcode lottery taking place.

Yet we also see markedly varying figures within London too evidenced by a mere 11% chance of getting a bedroom tax DHP in LB Southwark but a 16.21% chance in Darlington in the North East and a 51.55% chance in Blackpool in the North West.

The LB Southwark figures are interesting as it has a total bedroom tax cut of £4.04m yet receives just £445k in bedroom tax DHP; whereas LB Westminster has a bedroom tax cut of £1.03m yet gets £1.75m in allocated bedroom tax DHP.  In short, there is huge disparity and inequity intra regionally and this means the defence of London has higher rents cannot explain the inter regional inequity between London and all other areas.

I wonder what this means for the government’s legal position in the MA & Ors bedroom tax case as the High Court and Court of Appeal have upheld their view that in essence the provision of DHP for bedroom tax permits the discrimination the policy holds against disabled tenants by way of mitigation.  Any such mitigation is not universal and has to be a post code lottery as the above figures clearly demonstrate so therefore, the DHP mitigation for the found discrimination has to be reconsidered legally and may well happen if this case gets to the Supreme Court.

I also wonder what the Scottish Government make of this too as they are making up the difference between the bedroom tax DHP given to Scottish LAs from their own resources.  Yet is Scotland had been given bedroom tax DHP equivalent to its percentage of the bedroom tax cut then there would be far less for them to have to find.  The November 2013 figures reveal that Scotland had 11.32% of the bedroom tax cut at £42.38m yet received £5.54m in bedroom tax DHP when proportionally they should have reduced £6.79m or £1.25m more than they actually did.

Keeping with Scotland and the perversity in the DHP allocations made by central government we see a bedroom tax tenant living in the city of Aberdeen having a mere 9.05% chance of a DHP yet a tenant living in Aberdeenshire having a 31.93% chance!

Yes that means the bedroom tax DHP lottery is not just inter regionally or intra regionally it is also sub regionally.

How about two of the well-known bedroom tax legal cases involving Paul Rutherford and Jayson Carmichael?

  • Paul Rutherford like all Pembrokeshire bedroom tax tenants has a 12.37% chance of a DHP yet if he lived in Ceredigion he would have a 41% chance.
  • Jayson Carmichael in Southport has an 11.06% chance of a bedroom tax DHP yet if he lived a few miles north in Blackpool he would have a 51.55% chance

The realities of this DHP bedroom tax allocation begin to emerge and expose it for what it is, a post code lottery and yet another back of a fag packet policy of this coalition.

There is a real sense of anger within me that social landlords have not exposed this post code lottery in terms of challenging the bedroom tax and a similar sense of anger that Her Majesty’s Official Opposition, that is the Labour Party, has not exposed this too.  That of course is tempered by the feigned ‘opposition’ and feigned ‘challenge’ we have come to expect from both of these actors on the bedroom tax stage.  Time for them to stop ‘resting’ don’t you think?

Finally, the bedroom tax affected tenant, disabled or not, will quite rightly be angered by this post code lottery.  Not only have they had life-changing cuts imposed upon them by a sham bedroom tax decision-making process and sham of a policy, we now see that the government’s principal claimed mitigation in a DHP is also a sham too.

___________________________________________________________________

Postscript – I will publish separately a full list presently to show the relative positions in all councils and regions

Here is the link to the tables for each local authority and region – (Dropbox pdf)

 

Wirral’s Labour Council and bedroom tax sophistry

The Labour run Wirral Council is patting itself on the back in the local newspaper the Liverpool Echo tonight for finding £75,000 to help the most deserving bedroom tax cases.

This is the same council who received £995,795 in discretionary housing payments (DHP) funding from central government and COULD have added £1,493,692 to this….yet it chose to add £75,000 or just 5% of what it could have added.  Of course they don’t tell you that in the article and the pliant local evening newspaper of course has to consider just how much advertising spend Wirral council has with the Echo so the journalist ever so conveniently fails to mention this too.

Both the Labour councillors and the local paper also omit to say that Wirral has 3,571 households affected by the bedroom tax with an average deduction of £14.01 per week meaning that the bedroom tax take from Wirral residents is some £2.61m per year.

This means the generous burghers running Wirral council has put in about 2.8% of the total taken from vulnerable households in Wirral or should that be their whopping £75,000 will not reach 97.1% of those vulnerable households hit?

While any council adding any level of money to help bedroom tax victims is welcome, to claim plaudits for this miserly amount is in local jargon severely taking the piss.

Finally the Echo claims in this sycophantic piece of pretend journalism that : -

“Next week the Wirral Campaign against the Bedroom Tax has organised a march against the spare room subsidy through Birkenhead.”

Yes I can see the BAN THE SPARE ROOM SUBSIDY banners now can’t you reader?  I wonder if the Echo will send along the same numpty of a reporter to cover this?

Maybe it will change to Spare Room Subsidy is IDS’s perfidy altogether now

Spare room sub – si – dee is ID -esses – per-fidy, Spare room sub – si – dee is ID -esses – per-fidy!

PS – Just noticed that the picture the Echo is using features a lady underneath the balloons (black top, red skirt) who won her bedroom appeal 2 weeks ago!  Now hows that for irony dear reader!!

 

Social Housing and branding – Never knowingly sold anyone?

A flurry of very good articles about social housing as a brand have appeared in the last day or so and not before time. Unlike the John Lewis Partnership strapline of Never Knowingly Undersold, social housing is merely never knowingly sold.

Colin Wiles who is always thought-provoking covers most of the contributors in a piece in Inside Housing and cites Tom Murtha – who I suggested (in jest) on Twitter last week has had more influence now he has retired than when he was a housing chief executive – who is a key player in the SHOUT campaign to give good press to social housing and what social housing is which I said two years ago here is all about its economic benefits yet it is and has never been sold that way!

Tom Murtha has and is beginning to sell housing and get the message out there.  However, Tom has retired and who currently working in housing is selling housing?  Should it not be every housing professionals job and backed up by a national body?  Of course it should but that national body is not there. So it is to Tom’s personal credit that he is getting the message out yet to the housing ‘sector’s’ eternal shame that it is not.  Every industry has a lobby for it yet social housing does not!

Social housing provides the best quality rented housing option over the PRS, the best quality service and the best price and is hugely in demand (waiting lists) YET bizarrely it is portrayed as the housing of last resort and vilified.  In no other industry would the best product and best service all at the best price have such a woeful reputation.

In no other industry would it be ALLOWED to happen…Yet that is what HAS happened to the social housing model – and regrettably the people who have allowed that to happen are the people who work within social housing and because they have never SOLD social housing. Social housing has NEVER BEEN SOLD let alone undersold.

There is also not one single body or agency to do this as CIH does not do this, NHF look after the 60% of social landlords who are HAs and a myriad of others lobby for parts of social housing; EROSH for sheltered housing, SITRA et al for supported housing and Shelter and Crisis and Homeless Link etc for homelessness.

Yet that does NOT exclude all the Chief Executives of the 1000+ housing associations and other social landlords – errantly referred to as the ‘sector’ when the absence of any unifying body exists – for their ineptitude over the last 30 years or so.

In 1981 social landlords had 3 in every 4 properties that were rented and now they have less than 1 in 2 and has recently been overtaken by the PRS.  Again I ask in what other industry or that misused term ‘sector’ would the model with the best product, best service and at the best price be ALLOWED to reduce so dramatically?

While the sector can rightly state this is largely the fault of Right To Buy it still, unfortunately, has an ambivalence and resistance to any criticism of its role in this fall – and business fail – of the social housing model.

Social housing is ONLY cheaper because it is subsidised goes the refrain, yet the £4.5bn over 4 years, the £1.125bn that social housing receives in capital subsidy from central government returns rent levels which save the taxpayer the best part of £5bn per year AND it is the ONLY place where the sick, the old and the disabled – the SODs can live.  That is what social housing gives in return for the ‘subsidy’ which correctly HAS to be viewed as a very efficient invest to save model.  YET when have you heard that no-brainer of an economic argument be stated by anyone in the housing ‘sector?’

Never knowingly sold!

The (naive?) optimist in me senses that the ephemeral ‘sector’ is beginning to change and the debate over branding social housing is evidence of that.  Yet the realist, not cynic, within me has to accept that the social housing ‘sector’ is as quick to accept criticism and as quick to change as an elephant on skis going down a giant slalom!

Why – with social housing being a hugely cost-effective invest to save initiative that saves the country and the individual taxpayer a fortune – is it that no political party advocates it and why Joe Public maintain it is the housing of last choice?

That is the question social housing professionals refuse to face and consider as mea culpa is not in its lexicon of thought.  It is long overdue that they should and even more overdue that social housing is knowingly sold else it will go under!

 

 

 

Prisoner entitled to 4 times the bedroom space than a social tenant!

A prisoner is entitled to a room four times the size that the DWP maintains is a bedroom for a social tenant.

I was alerted to a Ministry of Justice document called Certified Prisoner Accommodation which sets out the minimum sizes for prisoners and the relevant size issue is detailed below and is from ppage 45 of the MoJ document

prisoncellmimsize

Note it says minimum size for a single cell is 6.8msq or 73.31 square feet of floor space

Now skip to the DWP guidance issued in HB circular U6 of 2103 (Yes that’s the one they rushed out after the Fife room size bedroom tax wins aka the Capt Mainwaring guidance!)

Paragraph 5 of this says: -

In determining whether or not a room is a bedroom the landlord may consider a number of factors, but one of these must be whether or not a room is large enough to accommodate at least a single bed

To read that literally it says if a room can fit in a single bed (and nothing else) then its a bedroom. That is the view of the DWP.  You could have no space at top, bottom or any side of the single bed in such a room according to DWP ‘guidance.’  It could also mean literally a room is a bedroom if it can fit a single bed in it standing on its end about 3ft x 2ft or 6 square feet! Yet a single bed is typically 6 feet 6 inches in length and about 2ft 9 inches at the narrowest making 17.88 square feet which the DWP by definition say is big enough for a bedroom.

Hence a prisoner is entitled to 73.31 square feet or more than 4 times the floor space of the 17.88 square feet the DWP deem is big enough for a social tenant!

 

 

Dangerous mistruths from Lib Dem bedroom tax apologists

Today sees the NPI think tank release a report saying the Lib Dems are right on the bedroom tax -

This is a lot of hot air based on ignorance of fact and a totally false premise:

It says:

“The concern that we should make better use of the social rented sector is legitimate: 8% of social rented households are overcrowded while 40% are under-occupied.

What a load of very dangerous nonsense this is, the 40% of social housing is under-occupied when the actual figure is just 10% as the English Housing Survey 2013 says by contrast:

• Under-occupation remained much more common in the owner occupied sector: around half (49%) of owner occupiers were under-occupying their homes in 2012-1 3, compared with 15% of private renters and 10% of social renters.

However, there was a decrease in the proportion of overcrowded households in the social rented sector

• Between 2010-11 and 2012-1 3, the rate of overcrowding in the social sector declined from 7% to 6%; with 241,000 overcrowded households in the sector in 2012-13, compared with 278,000 in 2010-11.

Hence the fact and the premise for the above arguments and the resultant comment that the Lib Dems are right to take their ridiculous position on the bedroom tax is a case of garbage in garbage out.

Note under occupancy was reducing even before the bedroom tax was introduced too and that there is 50% MORE under occupancy in the private rented sector than in social housing!

How dangerous is it that a national think tank quadruples the actual number of under-occupied properties and provides some more myth that the Tories would gladly make use of and represent, as they invariably do, a case of tell a lie often enough and it becomes fact.

As a classic example of this we see the Tory Chairman Grant Shapps also attacking the Lib Dem bedroom tax position in an article in the Telegraph today.

The journalist says

“The policy cuts £500 million from the welfare bill.”

Then he quotes Grant Shapps:

Mr Shapps said: “People will come to their own conclusions when they see parties u-turn on policies they’ve stood up for in the past. I would have thought the Liberal Democrats with tuitions fees would have learnt that.” “Them voting for that, never in private or in public arguing against it, then suddenly u-turning on it, people will come to their own conclusions.”

Where are they going to get that half a billion pounds from?

So here we have Grant Shapps Tory Party Chairman and the Housing Minister when the bedroom tax was introduce saying the bedroom tax saves £500m or half a billion which of course is the same thing.

Yet the DWP official data reveals that 471,000 households are affected each having a £14.30pw cut in HB. Multiply that to get the absolute MAXIMUM saving and we see it becomes £353m or so per year and a long way short of £500m

Tell a lie often enough (even when it has to be a KNOWN and DELIBERATE lie from Grant Shapps) and people take it to be fact.

So NPI are you going to amend your scurrilous and inept report which says under-occupancy in social housing is 4 times greater than the fact?

Facts are pesky eh reader!!

Scooby Doo investigates the bedroom tax and IDS

We have stopped the burgeoning welfare benefit spend the country cant afford chirps IDS ad infinitum

dwpspend97to2013

 

We have cut Housing Benefit spend with the Bedroom tax and Benefit Cap (blah blah blah)

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

It is only workless scroungers who claim Housing Benefit (blah blah blah) Here’s a graph of those in work and claiming HB!

%ofworkign tenants on HB

Oh by the way dear reader all the above simple graphs come form figures produced by …Yes you’ve guessed it IDS’s own Department of Work & Pensions.  Would you like a few more?  Oh ok then!

What about we can’t afford the burgeoning welfare state argument (blah blah blah) How much do we in the UK spend as a percentage of our GDP compared to other European (boo hiss!) countries.  The Economist tells us:

_71423324_social_security_expenditure_464gr(3)

 

Yes those well known welfare benefit spendthrifts the Germans can manage to afford to send 12% more than the UK on their welfare state.

Surely then the Germans must be taxed more to afford this largesse on welfare benefits. Lets’s see what the Economist says on that:

effective tax rates on £100pa

As you can see the Germans pay the same effective tax rates but receive more in employee social security

You care for some more lies IDS’s DWP says about welfare benefit spend?  Here is what they said this week after they released the allegedly independent report into the bedroom tax

dwpliesover interim report

 

And here again in a form so simple even DWP can not misunderstand is the official DWP figures for the Housing Benefit spend

coalition hb bill

Can you spot the hidden £6bn HB savings the DWP claim? No neither can I!!

What about the head honcho himself the Prime Minister as he is not afraid of throwing in some whopping porkies.  You will recall numerous occasions that Cameron has said the disabled are exempt from the bedroom tax. Try here and here for example.  So if Cameron is not fibbing through his hat can you tell me why the bedroom tax report this week had this nice little pie chart?  It shows that local councils take into account the disabled claimants DLA as income in whether to award a DHP to mitigate the bedroom tax!  Yes that’s the same disabled applicant who Cameron tells us is exempt from the bedroom tax so why are they applying for a DHP then Prime Minister?

dlaasincomefor DHP

 

Do you recall read reader IDS and Lord Freud saying only a small number of vulnerable households had the bedroom tax wrongly imposed?  Their estimate was between 3,000 and 5,000 in total across the country when research from a FOI request revealed their was likely to be over 40,000 households affected – the same as I predicted.  Has the coalition ever released the final figure? Has the Labour Party forgotten to follow this up and tell us just how many vulnerable households had the bedroom tax wrongly imposed?

Here is an oldish graph which compares actual figures (which will have risen) compared with the DWP estimates:

 

PRE96EXEMPT

 

But then what is a bedroom and what is under occupying?  On that latter point see this from the then Housing Minister Grant Shapps as Hansard recalls:

shappsbedroom

“Under-occupying households are those with at least TWO bedrooms more than they need..”  Yes that does say TWO dear reader!

So what is a bedroom?  Oh yes the DWP steadfastly refuse to define that don’t they? They also say outside of a kitchen, bathroom and living room that all rooms must be bedrooms.  Yes that’s the same DWP who administer other welfare benefits such as Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) or dole.  And looky here what the JSA Online claim form says: -

JSAO2 other

Yes the same DWP allows the claimant to have rooms other than bedrooms and even offers STUDY or UTILITY ROOM or a PLAYROOM as an example of what a claimant may legitimately have in their property. Yet woe betide the HB claimant who says a disputed room is not a bedroom its a study eh!

Ah cake and eating it dear reader? Why of course that’s the case!

awileystairlift1 awverticallift1 awverticallift2Yes the 3 pictures above are a bedroom according to DWP and the local authority in this case Sefton MBC …and because the tenancy agreement and the landlord says so.  Of course a bed could not even fit into this room but hey the landlords asset register which they transmitted to the council had not been updated with the vertical lift taking out one of the former bedrooms.

Yes dear reader that is the basis on which the bedroom tax decisions were taken and one other council Bury MBC kindly revealed precisely what information they got back from landlords and the entirety of how their decisions were taken was commonplace across all councils in the UK

burydetailfromlandlord

Hard to believe that a family’s life has been turned upside down with the life changing bedroom tax decisions based on the above isn’t it?  Well that’s the stark reality dear reader!

I could go on and on with this pictorial representation of the bedroom tax.  But I will finish (for now) with an excerpt from the Welsh Quality Housing Standard below.

Note this is just a pointer as is the Housing Acts of 1985, 1988 and 2004 over what constitutes the term ‘bedroom’ in terms of floor size. Just a pointer dear reader yet in the absence and steadfast refusal of DWP to define the term bedroom we are left with Tribunal judges having to determine what the term ‘bedroom’ means and the diagram below does help in that regard by giving accurate dimensions of a bed, bedside cabinet, dressing tables and wardrobes – the usual and normal furnishings which make a room a bedroom – and the necessary space needed between these necessary furnishings too.

whqs bedroom

 

 

I was going to conclude with some words here.  Yet words can be ambiguous and downright misleading cant they IDS…you know as in the “I believe it to be right” piffle you spout when the likes of the ONS and NAO find you and your DWP mislead, dissemble and overtly and knowingly lie.

If a picture paints a thousand words then each one is 3 letters long begins with L ends in E and has I in the middle when it comes to your version of the bedroom tax and welfare reforms.

Let’s unmask the villain here and think of Scooby Doo – IDS would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those pesky facts!!

 

 

Cleggs opens up bedroom tax debate and confirms he is an idiot!

So we are loudly told with front page banner headlines Clegg and the Liberal Democrats are now against the bedroom tax. Oh but hang on that U-turn changed within the hour late last evening as Clegg & Compo and the rest are only for a partial revision of the bedroom tax.  I see so its what the Joseph Rowntree Foundation advocated (without credulity see here) a few months back and the bedroom tax should not apply to “the disabled” and not to those who have nowhere to downsize to…or at least that is what it appears and as per usual this is soundbite politics not detailed written policy.  Still lots of publicity that serves to highlight that Clegg (a) still has a pulse and (b) that Clegg still has a knack of what Prince Philip calls pedidentary – that is putting ones foot in ones mouth without any forethought!

Politics is the art of the possible and is pragmatism writ large and just as I explained with the normally excellent JRF report such a position of the bedroom tax not applying to anyone ‘disabled’ (however defined) and only applying where there is nowhere for the tenant to downsize to (however that is defined) is utterly impractical.

As it is often stated without any challenge that 63% of bedroom tax households have someone resident with a disability then this would take 63% out of the bedroom tax being applied.  What flows from that is that 63% of the (alleged) savings would be lost to central government.  So lets look at some numbers.

Currently 471,000 households have an average yearly bedroom tax of £748.80 applied making a theoretical maximum saving of £353 million.  Note that is THE maximum possible the bedroom tax policy could save yet the coalition still maintain the saving will be £500m per year which is mathematically impossible from the above factual figures though doesn’t stop the likes of the BBC still reporting them a that is what Freud et al still disingenuously maintain!

“Ministers say private sector renters do not get spare rooms for free, and argue the policy will save around £500m a year. But critics say it is forcing households into arrears”

says the BBC today here yet as the basic arithmetic above reveals the Ministers have overestimated the maximum an theoretically possible savings by £147m per year or by 42% whichever you prefer!

So as 63% are disabled the maximum theoretical saving to central government reduces by 63% to £130 million or a whopping 74% less than the aforesaid innumerate Ministers still adhere to!

But presumably the government would then not have to provide the £60m of DHPs they allocate to local government to mitigate the impacts of the bedroom tax (and see HB circular SI/2014 which details this allocation).

So the maximum saving becomes £190m per year and £310m less than the coalition (oh yes that include Clegg and Compo et al) still illogically maintain it holds and seek. But hang on then we would need to reduce that figure by taking out of the bedroom tax those current tenants who could not downsize due to no smaller properties being available.

The DWP proudly proclaimed in April that 6% of social tenants had downsized and the sham of an alleged bedroom tax monitoring report released yesterday said much the same.  Hence 94% cannot downsize as the smaller properties are not available.  Ergo the £190m maximum theoretical saving must reduce by 94% leaving just a maximum theoretical saving of £11.4 million per year – which is some £488.6m less than the innumerate coalition ministers claim it does save and seek!

So we arrive at a point which sees the absolute maximum ‘saving’ from the bedroom tax become £11.4 million or thereabouts.

To set against this we have the added public purse costs of administering the bedroom tax which is done by 340 or so local authorities on the government behalf.  471,000 or so additional HB decisions means if each decision costs more than £24.20 each then this extraordinarily cheap cost per case would see the cost of the bedroom tax outweigh the maximum £11.4m it could save!

Oh hang on what about the estimated £1500 per case each bedroom tax appeal cots central government as this too is an additional cost of the bedroom tax.

Sorry reader, I realise the above contains sums and many of you don’t really like sums but then you are in good company as clearly the coalition don’t like sums either!  If you didn’t already think Clegg was an incompetent buffoon you must realise that now, though I do have to admire his outrageous optimism as he clearly believes he and his Liberal Democrats have any power or influence now within the coalition or will be in any such position after the May 2015 general election.

He is almost as deluded as anyone who asserts the bedroom tax in its current pernicious guise saves any money such as IDS and Freud, though their delusions are they can fool all of the people all of the time with their repeated lies which still get repeated even after they have been found out.

While I am constructively criticising this charade I cannot leave out the Daily Mirror who are tweeting like mad across social media sites that “Its the Mirror that did it” and similar nonsense. Did what dear reader..oh yes… claim a victory for the bedroom tax with this even more back of a fag packet idea that Clegg has come up with that is just as much back of a fag packet as the original delusion of IDS in the bedroom tax itself.

Though of course the real scorn needs to be directed at Her Majesty’s official Opposition, that is the Labour Party.  Not once have they challenged the innumerate and delusional assertion of the coalition that the bedroom tax saves £500m per year.  As all that takes is the ability to multiply the number of households (471,000) by the average yearly cut (£749) which gives a maximum of £353m and reveals the coalition is over egging the maximum possible saving by 42% and is therefore must be lying as well as being incompetent and innumerate.

Sorry reader I cant be bothered wasting any more of my time or yours with this charade.  The idea put forward by Clegg and immediately revised cant work and is a nonsensical and illogical idea by a politician and the party he leads desperate to hold onto any last vestiges of ‘power’ he believes he and his party has.  The fact the media hype this into a story while not knowing what the hell they are talking about and without the competence to do some basic maths on a £1 calculator…well what’s new!

10pm UPDATE

I have just watched what can only be called car crash politics with Lib Dem Danny Alexander attempting to explain the new Lib Dem bedroom tax policy…and if Clegg is an idiot which he is then Danny Alexander is the biggest incompetent f*ckwit!

Not only does he squirm and wriggle and finally give in and watch here as it is so cringeworthy to be amusing BUT Danny Alexander states he is going to put a new DUTY on councils and housing associations to reduce under occupancy.

A DUTY is a mandatory action that can ONLY apply to a PUBLIC body yet of course the real name of housing associations is PRIVATE REGISTERED PROVIDERS and no government can put any form of DUTY upon a private body.  It seems the erstwhile Mr Alexander does not know this and why should he as he has only been in high politic office at the centre of government for 4 years yet a  spotty 16 year-old kid studying any form of government or law could tell you this fact that Danny Alexander clearly does not know!

Do you think dear reader that the Lib Dems are a tad unprepared and a tad incompetent to be trying to wriggle out of their vote FOR the bedroom tax and making a huge pig’s ear out if it?

Politics is like a septic tank, the big chunks always rise to the top!!!

PS Do watch the C4 interview it is so funny!!

 

The bastard bedroom tax report

Bastard n. – illegitimate

The Welfare Reform Act of which the bedroom tax is part had huge numbers of debates and I think was knocked back on 8 occasions (?) by the House of Lords before the coalition steamrollered it through using financial privilege.  It received Royal Assent I recall in March 2012 and then in June 2012 the DWP published what it alleged was an impact assessment.

Any decision and one that involves radical change by any individual, organisation or government should be considered as to the impacts and consequences of that decision before the decision is taken.  That is what an impact assessment does and is commonsense and also stating the obvious and it is an essential part of democracy and democratic legitimacy .  Yet the June 2012 alleged impact assessment by the DWP into the bedroom tax stated it did not know what the impact of the bedroom tax policy would be on gender, race or disability.

I often get stereotyped as some ‘lefty’ against this coalition and especially against the bedroom tax yet those who make this false presumption clearly haven’t read how I constantly attacked the last Labour government over the Supporting People programme or SP which included being ‘asked’ to come into the ODPM as was now CLG and ‘asked’ to tone down my comments and offered employment by the department in order to silence my dissention to SP.  In short, I challenge any policy of any government which shafts vulnerable people.

Check out my Twitter alter ego SpeyeJoe (yes keeping an eye of SP) and it reads: -

Housing consultant either a lateral thinker or i’m planking – hates ANY vulnerable people being shafted by ANY incompetent govt.

So my real concern is or at least starts from an apolitical perspective and my first degree being in Politics means I have high regard for democracy and democratic legitimacy.  In the bedroom tax and to preserve any ounce of legitimacy the policy was implemented on the condition that an ongoing monitoring of it would take place.

The result, and very late and out-of-date result was the sham that appeared yesterday.  A report without any legitimacy – a bastard of a report in other words.

No government should impose a policy that is at the same time radical in changes sought and irrational in how it is to be implemented and operated without forethought.  Yet that aptly describes the bedroom tax in seeking radical change of social housing and the social housing model and rides roughshod over vulnerable people and all based on local government believing the word of a social landlord out of expedience when the same local government officials would not dream of believing the word of a private landlord: Indeed the local government decision-making officers are guided in regulations to seek independent assessment of what a bedroom is and how many a property has through the Rent Officer service yet are disallowed from doing the same for a social tenant.

Instead a life-changing cut in benefit is imposed on the social tenant on this flimsy and irrational and illegitimate way.  Again, in simple terms, the bedroom tax tenant is shafted and while the report includes the consequences of this with so many tenants choosing to heat or eat and go without other necessities that is just reporting of what we have all known for a long time.

The report – the illegitimate or bastard report – holds no recommendations at all either.  Yet surely that must have been the purpose and the only legitimate purpose of allowing a policy to go ahead with ongoing monitoring in that the evaluation would provide recommendations for change, yet it does no such thing.

In summary the bedroom tax policy only had any semblance of legitimacy in being implemented dependent upon iterative oversight and that has not happened.  The same report also says the next report will be in 2015 and we know from Steve Webb ex-minister at DWP that this will be in summer of 2015 and critically, after the next election.  The British public and the great democratic history of the country has been duped by this government and yes they are a bastard of a government for that. Three full years and more of an ill-considered and dangerous policy with no legitimacy whatsoever is what we have in the bedroom tax.

Doubtless after yesterday’s reshuffle which was used to mask this bastard of a report we will see a more Eurosceptic government which will shout about the ‘democratic deficit’ at the heart of the European Union while conveniently ignoring its own bedroom tax policy has even less democratic legitimacy than the EU.

Plus ca change ou l’etat c’est moi mon cher lecteur?

 

 

 

Lies, damn lies and failing DWP bedroom tax reports

On the same day as the cabinet reshuffle the DWP released a 163-page interim report into the bedroom tax.  Unfortunately this deliberate burial of a report is the best that can be said for it as it really is that bad.

Firstly it only records the first 5 months of the bedroom tax from April 2013 to August 2013 and so this report is already ELEVEN MONTHS OUT OF DATE.

Secondly, the authors of this report who include some well known and respected figures should hang their heads in shame for the content, the quality and the outrageous bias in this report…which I remind is 11 months out of date and purposeless.

Let’s begin with the Executive Summary which starts on page 13.

This Interim Report presents early findings from the evaluation of the Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy (RSRS) undertaken by Ipsos MORI and the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research. A final report will be published in 2015.

We have already been told by Steve Webb, then a minister at DWP, that the final report will be published in Summer 2015, that is AFTER the next general election.  Hence this sham of a report is to be the ONLY coalition report on the bedroom tax in this parliament which you would not know from reading this cleverly worded sentence.

Note too that this 163-page report claims to be an evaluation, that is an assessment of the bedroom tax policy yet it fails to mention in all of its 163 pages whether the bedroom tax produces any savings at all which was the claimed rationale for the policy.  How can you ‘evaluate’ something by not evaluating its principal rationale?

If that doesn’t tell you what this report doesn’t say – that the bedroom tax is a costly failure, then nothing will.  It is staggering that the claimed saving is not mentioned in a report consisting of 163 pages.

The opening of the Executive Summary continues:

The objectives of this project are to evaluate:

• the preparation, delivery and implementation of the policy changes by local authorities and social landlords;

To decode and put into simple English, we asked councils and landlords for how they judged themselves! Hardly likely to get any form of objective evaluation from that are we!  The summary continues:

• the extent of increased mobility within the social housing sector leading to more effective use of the housing stock;

Hang on a moment!!  What increased mobility does this report presume? The last financial year in social housing was April 2013 to March 2014 and the same as the first year of the bedroom tax.  Look at my post from April 2014 some 3 months ago which shows that in 2013/14 FEWER social tenants moved in that year than in the previous ten years. YES you read that correctly dear reader LESS social tenants moved in that year meaning that the bedroom tax impact was NOT increased mobility as this report errantly states but REDUCED MOBILITY.

To evaluate an increase in anything means you have to have a benchmark, that is what was movement BEFORE the policy change yet this report  – in all its 163 pages – fails to state what mobility was before as the benchmark.  The report merely mentions what the movement was and fails to assess whether this was an increase or a decrease.  Yet as my blog referenced above shows mobility DECREASED yet staggeringly this is not mentioned in the report…in all of its 163 pages!!

Are you starting to get a flavour of just how biased, inept and overtly political this report is dear reader?  Good, but don’t get too expectant as if you want me to notify you of all the faults in this report then I can easily make this commentary longer than the 163 pages of whitewash this report contains.  To all those in social housing time to look again at some of the well-known ‘experts’ who have put their name to this charade!!

WHY DIDN’T THIS REPORT HOW MUCH THE BEDROOM TAX IS CLAIMED TO SAVE?

That is a huge and of course  a deliberate and stark omission from this report and after all we have Webb, and IDS and Freud and McVey all stating ad infinitum that the bedroom tax saves the taxpayer £500m per year.  Yet scour these 163 pages of whitewash and there is no mention of any financial saving!

Let’s now begin to look at the facts this report gets wrong and deliberately wrong as it deliberately chooses ‘facts’ it likes but not those it does not.  Top of page 14:

The DWP’s Housing Benefit data show that in August 2013, 522,905 households1 were affected by the RSRS2, which equates to 11.1 per cent of all social tenancies.

The report could and should have used the most up to date data which was released over two months ago and reveals just over 471,000 households affected or even the official data released 3 months before in February 2014 which had 498,000 or so affected.  Yet it chooses to use the highest ever figure recorded for those bedroom tax affected. Why does it do this when there have been two further lots of quarterly data released and the last one being two months before this report was published?  It can ONLY be that the report wished to convey higher numbers affected by the bedroom tax than is actually the case – a shameful piece of bending allegedly independent research to the whim of government.

Note here that the June 2012 DWP estimate said the bedroom tax would affect 660,000. So why would this report not use the 471,000 figure released by DWP in May?

  • Could it be that the DWP being a mere 189,000 or a mere 29% out in its figures and the embarrassment this would cause be the reason?
  • Could it be that 189,000 fewer households affected means the alleged ‘savings’ DWP sought are reduced by 189,000 lots of £751.37 per year and in total £142m less than DWP sought?
  • Or is it because they have absolutely NO explanation whatsoever for this 29% reduction in numbers?

That last point is very pertinent reader as the only explanation this DWP sham of a report gives is that more people downsized or moved.  Yet that is a known mistruth as I stated earlier and the authors of this report know that.  So yet again this report is overt in its political bias and KNOWINGLY seeks to mislead the reader and put a false gloss on the bedroom tax.

Let me remind you again of the context – This is the ONLY report the coalition will make on the bedroom tax in this parliament!  So when you go back and read the 2012 (purported) impact assessment which says we don’t know the impact on gender, race or disability but we will be monitoring this on an ongoing basis, you now know the coalition misled there too and of course the policy itself being introduced without knowing the impacts and consequences reveals it for what the policy is – a back of a fag packet piece of politicking.

Unsurprisingly despite the authors of this sham of a report being (formerly?) well-respected researchers they do not conclude that reader; rather they pad out a report of huge bias, of no significance whatseover as its 11 months out of date and serves no useful purpose at all, in order to take the 30 pieces of silver.  And you thought it was only in the USA where academic research could be bought!!

Above I commented that the research pre-assumed an increase in mobility (downsizing) yet there was an actual reduction in it.  The context of this bias is emphasised when it comes to arrears as we see on page 20 of this sham report:

Landlords reported that, five months into the RSRS, 41 per cent of tenants have paid the full RSRS shortfall, 39 per cent have paid some and 20 per cent have paid none.

I extrapolated and put a low figure on this of around a £140 million increase in arrears here.

Yet this DWP (sham) report denies the correlation of the bedroom tax with this huge increase a few paragraphs down when it says:

Total arrears (for all reasons) held by social landlords increased by 16 per cent between April and October, although it must be emphasised that the cause of this is uncertain and we cannot directly attribute this increase to the RSRS.

So the DWP is prepared to start with an errant hypothesis (increase in mobility) which the report fails to state actually REDUCED not increased and also we see a denial that the bedroom tax led to increased arrears! Just how biased and discredited can any report get?

Perhaps dear reader the £140m or so increase in arrears is all due to fairy dust?

Another convenient use of carefully chosen fact, which in fact is not fact, occurs on page 17 and says: - 

Nationally, 11.1 per cent of all social tenancies are affected by the RSRS5 

Hmmm! The source of this assertion is the 2011 census says the report.  Yet dear reader you know my penchant for numbers (what IDS and DWP call pesky facts as 2 + 2 always = 4) so if 547,000 affected is 11.1% of all social housing then the size of social housing must be 4.928m properties.

Yet the English Housing Survey for 2012/13 has the social rented sector having just under 4m properties (3.864m) and so 547,000 bedroom tax affected would 14.16% not 11.1%.  Yes reader the DWP and their paid lackeys in this report cannot do basic arithmetic.

However look again at the wording and recall what I said above that this very politically sensitive document will have been proofed long and hard before it was released.  “Nationally 11.1 per cent of ALL social tenancies are affected by the bedroom tax”

We all know that those of state pension age are exempt from the bedroom tax and if we return to our old reliable friend in the EHS we see that 1.05m social housing tenants are over 65 years of age or some 28.5%.  Take these exempt bedroom tax households out of the figures and we see the 542,000 originally bedroom tax affected represented 19.3% of all social tenants that could have been hit with the bedroom tax.

And did you know this sham report is an independent report reader?  That is what the DWP press office released on twitter today:

dwpliesover interim report

Yet the biggest lie, and known lie is the claim that the HB reforms save money.  As I have commented many times (see here for example and sources) the official figures published by DWP show the HB bill at May 2010 to be £20.8bn per year.  In June 2010 after the first mini budget DWP said HB reforms (such as bedroom tax) would reduce the HB bill by “nearly £2bn per year” giving a target of £18.8bn. The latest HB bill – again by DWP official figures – is £23.7bn and nearly £5bn per year OVER target.

Yes dear reader the DWP has been at the fairy dust again hasn’t it!

And by the by the £6bn claim the DWP Press Office say is in the report is not to be found anywhere in the 163 pages of whitewash and bull!

I will make one final point and include one final picture of a graph in this scurrilous sham of a report which shows that over 75% of local councils include DLA as income when assessing a disabled person for a discretionary housing payment.

dlaasincomefor DHP

 

What’s that reader?  You say you have heard Cameron say on numerous occasions that the disabled are exempt from the bedroom tax?  Yes you’re right he has and here is one of those occasions from another blog

So to summarise:

  1. This sham report presupposes errant hypotheses and fails to acknowledge that LESS tenant have moved due to the bedroom tax
  2. This sham report says it is not the bedroom tax fault for the £140m increase in arrears
  3. This sham report makes no purposeful comment on why there are 471,000 households affected by the bedroom tax and not the original 660,000
  4. This sham report is 11 months out of date and serves no purpose whatsoever
  5. This sham report is overt in its political bias and those responsible for it should be ashamed of themselves

Finally – This report makes no comment on the alleged bedroom tax savings the coalition constantly states the policy achieves whatsoever.  NO COMMENT AT ALL.  That alone shows just how much of a failure this policy is and just how political this sham of an ‘independent’ report is.  Don’t bother wasting your time in reading it!

UPDATE

This sham report says there is no correlation between the bedroom tax and the significant rise in arrears I quantified at about £140m in my immediate comments yesterday.

Today I have just quickly re-read the DWP’s impact assessment for the bedroom tax of June 2012 (here) which is of course riddled with the savings rationale for the bedroom tax and also how this will be monitored on an ongoing basis which it has not.  Yet significantly the DWP says this about the link or correlation between bedroom tax cuts and arrears and says the link is straightforward!!  Yet in this sham report the link has no apparent correlation!!!!

savings bedroom tax

…it is straightforward to identify those reductions as having been generated as a result of the introduction of the size criteria!!”

Oh and finally dear reader I am being called a sceptic and a cynic for mentioning that a 163 page evaluation report on the bedroom tax fails to mention savings at all and fails to mention that mobility reduced – You know the bits the sham report missed….oh and the bits the other commentators missed!!  Ok I missed them first time round in my immediate comments of yesterday so we can all sometime not see the wood for the trees!

Yet, how the hell can you have an alleged evaluation of the bedroom tax that runs to 163 pages and NOT mention the alleged savings one bit!!

Oh dear there I go again being cynical in stating the bloody obvious

 

 

 

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