Category Archives: Uncategorized

New Era tenants will still see rents more than double – charity my arse!!

All hail Russell Brand and the ‘charitable foundation’ that has bough out the New Era housing from those nasty American capitalists and prevented the poor tenants rent there doubling.  That is the tenor and theme of the Guardian reporting this supposedly good news.  Yet what does it mean once we scratch a tiny bit under the surface?  An all together different story comes to light and NOT one to celebrate!

Below is the Guardian misguided hyperbole on this issue and of course no story would be complete without a picture of Russell Brand with a megaphone

newera

Note the headline – US investors (boo!) had planned to evict (double boo!) and MORE THAN DOUBLE RENTS (Boo Boo and Yogi!)

The article goes on to say existing tenants pay £800 per calendar month for a 2 bed flat there so doubling that rent would be £1600 per calendar month.  Yet we are told that is not going to happen as the evil US capitalists have sold this to a “charitable foundation”  Yay, yay and triple yay….er no!

The Dolphin Square Charitable Foundation deal in affordable (sic) housing not in social housing and what they say on their website is – once you have got past all the privateer speculators on their board that is – that they will keep the rents the same this year BUT then increase these rents to up to 80% of the open market rent.

The open market rents for all areas can be found here and in this case is £2442 per calendar month for a 2 bed flat that New Era tenants now pay £800 pcm.

Lets assume no inflation whatsoever as this £2442 pcm figure is for 2013/14 and that means when the rents increase to 80% of open market rent the £800 pcm now paid will become £1953 pcm or MORE THAN DOUBLE the rents those nasty evil US capitalist former owners were going to charge.

The reality here is the New Era tenants have had a 12 month deferment of an astronomical rent increase which will happen anyway with the new “charity” as many misread this to be.  Worth remembering the biggest charities in the UK in terms of income are the public schools – Yes Eton and Harrow and Roedean are charities.

The meaning of “affordable” is usually the equivalent of rent being 33% or less of net income so if the rent is £1953 then tenants need a net income of £5,859 per month or a net income after tax of £70,308 per year and means a salary of £113,600 is needed to afford this ‘affordable’ (sic) rent level that this ‘charity’ will be charging in the near future.

So that means an MP in Westminster cannot afford this so-called affordable rent flat even with their outrageous 11% wage increase.  Anyone still think this New Era deal is good news?  Anyone still of the opinion we should all go pat Russell Brand on the back?

Nothing against Brand personally just angry that once again the public is being duped by inept press reporting and especially by privateers who wrap themselves up in a charity cloak and of course by the blatant lies this coalition say ‘affordable’ (sic, sic, sic) rent is!

 

The bedroom tax costs more and in real like for like terms

Does the Bedroom Tax save money?

The coalition state the bedroom tax policy saves £500m per year and to date has saved £830m since it began on 1 April 2013.  This was stated again this week in the Opposition Day debate in Parliament and, critically, was not challenged.

I say that this claimed saving is untrue and cannot be true and my view comes from a very simple hypothesis being:  If the bedroom tax saved money as the government claim then the overall HB bill would have fallen all other things being equal.

All other things being equal or ceteris paribus or a like-for-like basis, whatever term you prefer is not as complex an issue as it may appear.  There are only three key variables to consider with these being (a) the period under comparison; (b) the numbers receiving Housing Benefit (the claimant count.), and (c) inflation, and specifically Housing Benefit inflation not rent inflation.

(a) The periods under comparison

The official Housing Benefit data records the position each month at the second Thursday of each month. I have chosen the April 2013 figure which was the position at 11 April 2013 when the bedroom tax began on 1 April 2013 and so this first figure includes the bedroom tax and also includes most yearly rent increases which occur from 1 April 2013 the first Monday and definitively included at 8 April 2013 at worst.

The comparator with 11 April 2013 is the latest official HB Data which is for 14 August 2014 and is the best “to date” figure available to investigate the coalition savings claim.

(b) The claimant count

The HB Data reveals how many claimants received HB and at what average amount they received and is then broken down by tenure by those in work by age and so on.  The main argument here only needs to consider the main aggregate figures.[1]

(c) Housing Benefit inflation

It does NOT follow that if your rent increases by 20% that the HB payment will increase by 20%; rent inflation and HB inflation are very separate issues.  The HB data records the average HB payment on a monthly basis and gives specific HB inflation.  So for example the average HB in payment at 11 April 2013 was £89.72 and on 14 August 2014 this became £93.05, an increase of 3.71% which becomes HB inflation over this period.

The Factual HB Data

  1. April 2013 saw a claimant count of 5,062,172.
  2. In August 2014 it was 4,930,162.
  3. The claimant count fell by 132,010 in number over the 16 month period
  4. The average HB weekly amount in April 2013 was £89.72
  5. The average HB weekly amount in August 2014 was £93.05
  6. The HB inflation over this 16-month period was 3.71% (2.78% p.a.)

Method adopted

In order to keep things as easily explainable as possible I first computed the actual overall HB cost on 11 April 2013 to be £23,698,362,963 calculated by the claimant count (1) multiplied by average HB in payment (4) and then this weekly figure into a yearly figure by multiplying it by 365.25 divided by 7.

That same process is adopted throughout.

The simplest way to account for HB inflation is to first ignore it and instead compute what the overall HB cost would have been at August 2014 from the reduced claimant count and then apply inflation.

Ignoring inflation the 4.930162m claimant count at (2) multiplied by average HB in payment (4) would have given an overall HB cost of £23,080,363,239.50p at 14 August 2014.

On a like for like basis ignoring inflation and any bedroom tax impact the HB overall bill at 14 August 2014 would have fallen some £618m due to the reduced claimant count and be £23.08 billion in shorthand.

Now we apply inflation to that like for like figure.  This is simply multiplying the £23.08 bn figure by 1.0371 to become £23,936,644,715.60p  or in shorthand £23.936 billion.

Then we look at the actual figure at 14 August 2014 which was the 4.93m figure multiplied by the £93.05 HB in payment figure and yearly to become £23,937,001,777.45p or £23.937 billion in shorthand.

What that reveals is taking inflation into consideration and taking the relative claimant counts into consideration the ACTUAL like for like overall HB bill has increased by an exact amount of £357,061.45p between 11 April 2013 and 14 August 2014.

£357k is not a lot of money, yet it is an INCREASE

Summary

The period the above covers is the period the bedroom tax policy has been in operation.  Also in that time the other 3 welfare reform policies aimed at reducing the HB bill of the benefit cap, the LHA cap and the SAR cap have also been in operation, the last two from January 2012.

Hence collectively the 4 welfare reform policies have had the impact of INCREASING the overall Housing Benefit bill and NOT REDUCING IT.

There is no specific reliable data available to say the bedroom tax increased the bill and the other three policies reduced it or any such combination.

Yet there is no need to do that for the purposes of this argument which using the official HB data above reveals the overall HB bill on a like for like basis and after accounting for specific HB inflation has INCREASED and not reduced or produced any savings at all.

____________________________________________________________

[1] The in-work claimant figure may have a notional part to play here but only if assuming the increase in the period of in-work claimants previously did not claim HB which is highly unlikely

Labour Party – the biggest bedroom tax incompetents – IT COSTS MORE you idiots!!

The Labour Party are as I write (4pm) using an Opposition Day debate on getting rid of the bedroom tax.  I should be delighted at that.  Yet they are the most incompetent ineffectual buffoons who do not know anything about the bedroom tax or about how to argue for its demise.

The Labour Party are more content to isolate the Liberal Democrats on this debate than to get rid of the policy.  That assertion is, regrettably, easily proved as the BEDROOM TAX COSTS MORE!

On a few occasions in the past 18 months I have sat down with others at a high level in housing to address the simple question – Does the bedroom tax actually save money? The issue being if it does not then the pain and misery it causes mean the policy is massively misguided.  Or put another way prove the policy actually costs money and then the coalition who maintain it does save money have no basis to continue with it.

Yet the Labour Party, Her Majesty’s Official Opposition, acquiesce to the coalition argument that is does save money when it is EASILY proved that it does not.  The fact that Labour fail to see the bedroom tax actually COSTS reveals their intention here smacks of political opportunism and incompetence.

Why does the bedroom tax cost more?

The bedroom tax is one of 4 welfare reform policies aimed at reducing the HB bill.  The other being the benefit cap, the LHA caps on private rented and the increase in the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR) from under 25 to under 35. All four of those policies, individually and collectively, are aimed at reducing the Housing Benefit bill.

Obviously if the HB bill has increased since their introduction then these 4 policies have failed as they HB bill has not reduced.

That is the simple and obvious argument which if all other factors being the same MUST be true. Yet as I explain below it is even worse than that as these other factors should have reduced the overall HB bill even further yet it has INCREASED and that MUST mean the bedroom tax and 3 other welfare reforms mentioned have failed and DO NOT SAVE MONEY.

Overall HB bill April 2013 to August 2014

The bedroom tax and in part the benefit cap became operational in April 2013.  The LHA cap and SAR from 1 January 2012. The August 2014 date is used as this is the latest official data set – the latest figures.

Hence as all of these policies have been operational in full or in part since April 2013 we can compare the HB bill then with the latest figures to reveal whether these 4 policies have reduced or increased the HB bill.  That is a very simple yet valid comparison and yes I will include inflation too.

  • April 2013 had 5,062,172 claimants each receiving an average of £89.24 to make £23.6bn overall
  • Aug 2014 saw 4,930,162 claimants at £93.05 to make £23.9bn overall cost.

The coalition argument that the bedroom tax et al save money would see the overall HB bill reduce. as that is the stated purpose. Yet it has increased by £300 million and not fallen. Note well too there are 132,010 fewer claimants too in August 2014 so the bill should have fallen by £615 million for that alone to a figure of £22.9bn.  Yet it has increased by £1bn to £23.9bn.

Have these claimed savings by the coalition just disappeared into the ether?  Clearly not and Mark Harper today restated what IDS said a week or so back that the bedroom tax, and note bedroom tax alone, has saved £830m so far based on their ‘view’ of a £500m per year saving.

Yet the official HB figures do not show 83 pence worth of savings let alone £830 million and in fact they show the HB bill has increased not fallen at all.

Rachel Reeves, Labour Party’s IDS equivalent said nothing about these claimed savings.  In fact when Mark Harper mentioned his patently false view that the bedroom tax has saved £830m he then challenged Rachel Reeves to say where the money would come from to repeal the bedroom tax.  Rachel (dimwit) Reeves then proceeded to say where from.

Yet in doing so she acquiesced to the easily disproven lie of the coalition that the bedroom tax saves money – a huge political error and huge ineptitude and incompetence on her and the Labour Party’s part!

If she knew the facts these official figures show – and they are the official HB figures produced by the DWP – there would be no need to say where savings would come from to pay for the repeal of the bedroom tax as there is no savings from elsewhere needed!!!!

The bedroom tax AND the 3 other welfare reform policies of benefit cap, LHA cap and SAR do NOT save a penny to the public purse and even allowing for inflation they collectively COST MORE!!!!

The Labour Party and in particular Rachel Reeves is incompetent, ineffective and has thrown away a huge chance to get rid of the bedroom tax and discredit the coalition lie that it saves money.  So whether the Labour Party motive is opportunistic or principled, they have well and truly fucked up!!

 

NOTES

I mentioned above some ‘high powered’ meetings took place with housing leaders to look at the claimed savings issue.  They were, in hindsight being too clever for their own good. We went into huge depth of how the bedroom tax in theory reduce central government spend even after DHP and other central government costs (Tribunals etc) and most of the additional costs were in essence transferred to local government such as higher HB and admin costs.

Yet IF the bedroom tax and other policies aimed at reducing HB actually SAVED then they would be reflected in the simple overall HB cost as given above.  They would have to after taking out any matters not on a like-for-like basis and accounting for inflation etc.

Perhaps, the Labour Party strategists and bean counters had similarly been looking too deeply and got wrapped up in those extremely complex and difficult financial arguments.  They did not need to (and yes I slap my own wrists for that!) and I only saw the argument a month or so ago when I published a blog about it.

ANY financial savings from the bedroom tax would HAVE to show in the simple overall cost figure as would any savings from the benefit cap, LHA cap and SAR policies.  Yet no savings exist even after inflation and taking away any other non like-for-like matter.

In addition there are the £115m added cost of DHP to be set against this lack of savings and they increase the overall COST of the policy too (£50m in 2013/14 and £65m both for bedroom tax alone in DHP).  Then of course the added cost of tribunals etc all add to the additional cost to central government of the bedroom tax and then there is the added cost of HB administration and increased homeless presentations and homeless temporary accommodation to local government to add too.

Considered in this correct way, I doubt even the most hardline Tory could present a cogent argument that the bedroom tax has saved money.  It simply has not.  Yet the real issue is why Her Majesty’s Official Opposition in the Labour Party with all its stated opposition to the policy and its many resources it has to research, unilaterally failed to see the bloody obvious!

The Labour Party today, and Rachel Reeves is ultimately responsible here, let down 480,000 households or about 1.2 million men, women and children that live in these bedroom taxed households by NOT seeing the argument and by not promoting it.  That is rank ineptitude and especially after their social media campaign which saw over 100,000 sign their opposition to this pernicious and FINANCIALLY COSTLY policy.

 

The low levels that Ashton Jobcentre will go to to sanction people.

joehalewood:

JobCentre staff want to see women and unborn child starve due to sanctions!!

Originally posted on The poor side of life:

20140820_133540

23 week pregnant woman sanctioned.

The above woman (wearing costume so the Jobcentre staff don’t recognise her) was sanctioned when 23 weeks pregnant. The reason you may ask…. for attending a work fare interview (work for nothing) at B&Q.

Whilst at the interview they noticed that she was pregnant and they said yep we will put you on light duties…. The jobcentre decided otherwise… in their words “we are sanctioning you because you told them that you were pregnant”.

So in other words she was meant to break all health and safety laws in the uk and not declare that she was pregnant. How on earth can this be right? It isn’t. She was heartbroken. She had walked a few miles to this workfare interview and she saw it as her last hope of not being sanctioned.

Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre knowingly target pregnant women. On one of our demonstrations…

View original 78 more words

UT ruling makes en masse direct action bedroom tax protest inevitable

The bedroom tax ruling by the Upper Tribunal ruling last week perversely encourages the shafted tenant to launch an en masse direct action programme of disruption to the new bedroom tax decisions in March 2015. Below I explain why.

In January 2013 I stopped blogging about the benefit cap and supported housing and other arcane housing matters read by only a small percentage of those in housing and started writing about the bedroom tax. The views of my blogs went from 60,000 a year to almost 4 million per year.

The first post was “What is a bedroom” and came to a conclusion that you can’t tax something you refuse to define and that as a result the entire bedroom tax decision making process was a sham and a legal sham. It is a sham and the UT ruling says so despite being a mess and a perverse mess.

The UT agree what is a bedroom or not is the central legal matter yet they fail to say what a bedroom is and in fact so the word ‘bedroom’ is so common it is impossible to define.

They go on to say the approach to take when defining a bedroom : -

“…reflects the old age that it is difficult to define an elephant but we know one when we SEE one and so we can explain why we think we have SEEN one by describing what we have SEEN.” (my emphasis para 23)

The bedroom tax has been imposed by council decision makers NOT SEEING bedrooms and instead by choosing to believe what a bedroom is or not is “up to the landlord” which is a perverse misreading of HB guidance on the matter – which the UT also found and again I said back in January 2013.

The UT goes on to conclude at [54] that: -

“…Parliament intended to allow decision makers to take account of ALL relevant circumstances on a CASE BY CASE BASIS”

This is one God Almighty mess of a ruling as well as being a fudge that determined nothing definitive which is going to cause havoc when the new 2015 bedroom tax decisions are decided in the same legally sham way next March.

Cue thousands upon thousands of tenants disputing that decision and asking councils to review and reconsider their decisions which is their right and ask their council for a statement of reasons as to how they made the decision which is also their right.

Cue tenants demanding that their council come out and inspect the disputed rooms which the tenants say are not of a size to be a bedroom citing paragraph [55] in this UT ruling which says all external size legislation and guidance:

“…provide cross checks that indicate that (or warning bells that) the room may be too small and thus (the council) need to provide reasons why, in the particular case, either it is or is not too small.”

Cue pandemonium and councils denying it means they need to inspect as of course this will cost them a fortune to do and will take forever to do – and especially so if they subcontract HB administration out which will cause huge contractual disputes between the LA and contractor.

That is just one example of the chaos and on just one issue that of size which this UT ruling failed to set down anything definitive upon despite its remit being to determine what a bedroom is by virtue of size and by virtue of usage.

When I first stated the decision making process was a sham and this gave all affected households a legitimate ground of appeal,l I was ‘slated’ for that view by the CIH and NHF in an article in Inside Housing and told my view of the decision making process was nonsense and all I was doing was a direct action en masse stunt.

The irony now is that the UT ruling as I outline above makes a programme of en masse direct action almost inevitable as well as confirming what I said was correct.

The council decision-makers in every local authority were inundated back in early 2013 with a standard template letter I drafted and downloaded in the hundreds of thousands.  That letter asked every council 6 simple questions asking HOW they had come to the bedroom tax decision.  The council replies stated we don’t have to define, it is up to the landlord and we have no policy on this – all now proved to be a sham by the UT ruling.

Yes every council has admitted in their responses to that standard letter they acted unlawfully and their bedroom tax decision-making process was an unlawful sham.

Tenants and grass roots groups now have 3 months to develop this and decide what they are going to put in writing to their council next March when the new 2015 bedroom tax decision notices land on their doormats.  Yet all they have to do is be vague and say they dispute a room is not of a size to be deemed a bedroom and quote paragraph 55 above asking for a statement of reasons as to why their council believe the room is a bedroom reminding the council that they have to take ALL relevant matters into consideration on a case by case basis as the UT ruled Parliament intended they do.

That is what this perverse UT ruling means for challenging the bedroom tax, the same perverse UT ruling that determined nothing definitive on either size or usage appeal grounds but by God did it rule very clearly on procedural grounds of appeal as I outlined above and I predicted way back in January 2013.

I first mentioned the legitimacy of appealing on procedural grounds in August 2012 over 7 months before it became operational and despite the offensive, cowardly and vitriolic attacks by CIH and IH on my personal and professional abilities I stuck to my views because I knew they were right.  Yes I can afford to be smug over this now I have been proven to be right but I am not.

Hundred of thousands of vulnerable tenants have been shafted in that time and continue to be shafted on a daily basis by this pernicious bedroom tax. Some have died, all have suffered and that includes everyone in those households even children who have had to go without.  I am angry as hell over that and will always be yet this is also not a case of hindsight is a wonderful thing either.  Those social tenants who have all been shafted saw their landlords in the main not supporting them to challenge this pernicious policy, the same landlords who chose to believe the great and the good and that appealing the bedroom tax was a stunt and many of whom believed just as perversely that what a bedroom is or is not is up to them.

Now that this UT ruling puts the blame firmly on expedient unlawful practices by councils and helps those landlords achieve what they have been at pains to point out, that the bedroom was not their fault and they were not complicit in it, it is time those social (sic) landlords thought for once about how they can support ‘their’ tenants to challenge this pernicious policy and help to get rid of it once and for all.

Yet ultimately the social tenant cannot rely upon the social (sic) landlord to support them to challenge the pernicious bedroom tax policy just as I said from my first post on this back in August 2012.

__________________________________________________

An example of how councils admit they acted unlawfully – my post from June 2013 here

A post on HOW the decision was made being the key to appeal from April 2013 here

The What is a bedroom series of posts from January 2013 here that hammered home the bedroom tax decision making process is unlawful

A post from August 2012 – yes 2012! – when I raised the issue of hat is a bedroom and concluded landlords don’t want it defined and it would all be up to tenants to appeal is here

 

Shouting is not enough. Stop moaning and do your job housing ‘sector!’

 “Never bring a problem to me unless you have solutions for it.”

That was the memorable advice my Housing Director said to me many years ago: The Housing Directors of today are, unfortunately, merely content to moan about problems and not seek viable solutions to them.

Social housing like any business is dependent upon its bottom lines and funding true social rent housing is THE biggest problem for social housing.  Yet simply moaning about the reduction in grant or the growing commercialisation within social housing such as the affordable housing model is not good enough.  Solutions need to be found and quickly yet are not forthcoming from the ‘great and the good’ of social housing, just moans and inept ideas.

I do not welcome SHOUT, #4socialhousing, #HousingDay or any of the admittedly well-intentioned solutions because they are not solutions.  They are akin to the man hunting down Jaws and being given a coracle and fishing net; they are nowhere near enough.

The social housing model, the old council house model, is dependent on grant as all accept is needed and all accept is in ever-reducing funding from governments of the day regardless of who governs.  Yet ‘grant’ is perceived as ‘subsidy’ in its pejorative sense and that is used by all governments as excuse not to fund social rented housing and also, perhaps more importantly, to deflect away the major invest to save cost efficiencies for the public good it gives.

The ever-reducing nature of funding by way of grant – 60% in this parliament – has led to the crisis of supply in social housing and now it has become critical and universally recognised, yet still social housing is not an election issue because the social housing model is denigrated and has no public or governmental support.  Social housing is perceived as the housing of last choice despite millions demanding on it as the waiting lists reveal.

Politics is short-termism writ large and no government is going to increase grant or embark on a major Keynesian social housebuilding programme we saw in the 1950s and 1960s as their priorities are the short-term economy not the long-term greater good of the country.  That is especially the case when social housing itself does nothing to promote the social housing model with the huge economic benefits it brings.

Therein lies the problem….and the solution.

Since RTB began in 1980 nobody in social housing has promoted social housing and its many benefits, social as well as economic.  That is a whole generation of moans about RTB sales and lack of replacements and legitimate though these moans are that is all they are and have been.

Social housing has not promoted itself either on a reactive or proactive basis in a generation, it has simply moaned.  It has not offered or even appeared to seek any solutions to this problem, just simply moaned about them.  Yet every industry or sector has to promote itself and raise awareness of the good it does but social housing stands out like a sore thumb compared to any other industry in that it hasn’t promoted itself, it hasn’t sold to anyone but itself the good that it does.

This lack of promotion has allowed its reputation to be in the toilet.  From ignoring the cultural dynamic of RTB that renting is second class to the property owning democracy thesis inherent in RTB right through to Benefit Street and poverty porn, social housing has allowed the negative and stereotypical perception of it to become endemic in the minds of the public and government.

If you tell a lie often enough people believe it to be true in lay terms or as Thomas Paine said in the aptly named Common Sense: -

“…a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right.”

The great and the good of social housing in not promoting the social housing model to either the public or to government for a generation have allowed the public and government to see the social housing model in the negative light they now perceive it.

Social housing in the SHOUT / #HousingDay campaigns have slowly woken up to the fact that the policies of the Welfare Reform Act 2012, the bedroom tax, the benefit cap and shortly the twin evils of Universal Credit in direct and monthly payments, all attack the revenue funding of the social housing model in Housing Benefit.  This adds to the attacks on capital funding over the past generation with ever-reducing grant and gives the social housing model a double whammy to which the response has been frankly too little too late.

Social housing is fobbed off with the Affordable (sic) Rent model which saw their income increase from this additional rent by £200m in the first two years and mitigated the higher arrears of the bedroom tax.  Yet that AR model is not sustainable and becomes less sustainable if proposals to reduce the benefit cap from £500 per week down to £440 per week in the latest proposals.

While it can be said today that the £23k benefit cap is just a proposal should the government not change after the next General Election that policy WILL come in, and will do so because it has yet to be challenged by social housing despite meaning no social landlord can afford to accommodate a couple with 3 children anywhere in the UK because of that cap.

44% of those affected by the benefit cap live in social housing according to the DWP impact assessment yet it is perceived even by social housing to be a high private rent only issue.  The lack of realisation has meant that no challenge to it has been made – a case of allow a lie to go unchallenged and people believe it to be true, or Thomas Paine’s famous quote from Common Sense and no different to the lack of challenge to social housing is only cheaper because it is subsidised or the epitome of the social tenant is White Dee from Benefit Street.

The solution?

Firstly, social housing’s great and good need to acknowledge their failure in not challenging social housing policy over the last 30 years or more and the role that has played in allowing the radical nature and speed of change that the welfare reform policies now impose on them.

Second, the ‘sector’ needs to become a true sector and have a one voice one lobby organisation to campaign for the whole of the social housing model.  The NHF campaigning for HAs, ARCH campaigning for council landlords is simply not enough and the ‘sector’ can only be a true sector IF they find a way to create a campaign lobby that is 100 times as strong as SHOUT and #HousingDay combined.

Third, this new and true sector needs to realise what the problems are and the benefit cap discussion above highlights that dramatically.  Many of the current great and good do not even realise the dangers this policy will obviate for social housing.

Fourth, egos and empire builders and the usual suspects have to be set aside in urgently creating this new social housing model lobby.  It needs a professional lobby much like the career lobbyists found in the USA to governments there.  It needs lobbying experts, professional lobbyists not well intentioned but regrettably amateurish lobbies that it currently has.

Fifth, find a way to fund this professional lobbying organisation.  Given its universality the incredibly simple idea of a precept of £1 per year per social rented property would fund a £4 million per year organisation to lobby for the whole of social housing.  That is simple, fair, yet not naive but a viable solution.

Finally, and critically, this professional lobby needs to give equal weight to the 84% of social housing not located in London with its perverse housing conditions and which previously has taken 80% of the grant yet only has 16% of the social housing stock – a bizarre apathy from Northern landlords in allowing this too.  It also needs to give equal weight to customer issues and input, as with direct payment the social tenant becomes a customer after many years of being mislabelled that way.  Much as social housing’s great and good may not like that, it reflects the reality and context of social housing today and not the social housing of 30 years ago and the time warp that the great and the good of social housing still wish to inhabit.

Yet of course and in summary, such a simple idea will appear far too radical for the uber conservative great and good of social housing and nothing will be done…oh apart from a few further moans and perhaps an all-ticket seminar..oops sorry rally!

Why the bedroom tax has cost more than it has saved – IDS go figure!

Iain Duncan Smith has knowingly and deliberately lied to parliament.  He is a liar as can so easily be proven.  I make no bones either about calling him a liar and a deliberate and knowing one and I refuse to use euphemisms such as being economical with the truth and the like – he is a liar as the figures below highlight and in just a simple 10 minute blog using official figures that he produces!!

He lied over the bedroom tax as Hansard recalls from yesterday in the following question and answer:

Under-occupancy Penalty

Mr John Leech (Manchester, Withington) (LD): What estimate he made of the potential savings to the public purse that would arise from implementation of the under-occupancy penalty; and what estimate he has made of the amount saved to date by that implementation. [906482]

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr Iain Duncan Smith): Before our reforms, the taxpayer had been paying for 820,000 spare rooms. To date, the policy has saved about £830 million from the housing benefit bill, and the estimated savings remain the same: approximately £500 million a year in 2013-14 and 2014-15. Those figures have been ratified by the Office for Budget Responsibility.

The bedroom tax (alleged) saving.

The bedroom tax has official figures published by the Secretary of State Work & Pensions – yes that’s IDS himself who publishes the official figures every quarter.  The most recent figures were published in November 2014 and cover the period up to August 2014 and this official data says:

BEDROOM TAX LATEST FIGS TABLE 3

  1. (a) How many households are affected (471,887), and
  2. (b) What the average weekly bedroom tax figure is (£14.92), and
  3. (c) There are 52.18 weeks in every year (365.25 days divided by 7)

So when we multiiply (a) 471,887 households at (b) £14.92 per week and then by (c) 52.18 we get the ABSOLUTE THEORETICAL MAXIMUM SAVING and that figure is (a) x (b) x (c) =

£368.114 million in a full year or £7.079 million per week.

IDS claims A saving of £830m so far as at yesterday. The absolute maximum (see below) is £615.87 million so IDS has stated a figure AT LEAST 35% MORE THAN IS THE MAXIMUM POSSIBLE

IDS claims the full first two years saving to be £1 billion.  Yet the absolute maximum saving is £736.228 million and again 35% MORE THAN IS THE MAXIMUM POSSIBLE

Comment

Take away the DHP costs which for the first two years for bedroom tax are £115 million and we see the maximum possible saving is £621m over two full years (£736m – £115m)

So IDS has told parliament that the ‘saving’ is 61 PER CENT HIGHER THAN IT CAN POSSIBLY BE

Yes he is lying and knowingly lying through his teeth.

Note for absolute clarity if many social housing tenants have left and their place taken by private tenants it could be possible to save housing benefit in this way.  Yet so few have been able to downsize and even if they are all private tenants moving into social housing and thus saving on the HB bill then just the legal costs IDS has paid out to take the recent Upper Tribunal case more than outweigh any savings alone.

Then we have so many other expenditure costs associated with the bedroom tax such as increased homelessness and increased number of bedroom tax appeals each one will cost about £1500 to the MoJ bill that government pays out and so many other expenditure costs.  But let’s forget all that complexity as to whether the additional costs are borne by local government and instead keep this so simple that even a lying buffoon like IDS can understand them.

The simple way to look at it.

IDS says the bedroom tax has saved the HB bill £830m so you would think that would have to be reflected in the overall HB bill and that would be ceteris paribus £830 million lower today than in April 2013 when the bedroom tax began.

The HB bill at April 2013 was £23.698 billion.  The HB bill at August 2014 was £23.937 billion or £239 million MORE than when the bedroom tax began.

Note well here that in April 2013 there were 132,000 fewer claimants too at 5.062 million compared with 4.930 million at August.

IF the same number of claimants were claiming HB as at April 2013 the HB bill would be a further £641 million more per year so – all things being equal – the overall HB bill on a like for like basis is £879 million MORE and not £830 million less as IDS claims.

Even allowing for rent inflation the real HB bill is over £250 million per year more at the latest August 2014 figure than it was when the bedroom tax began in April 2013.

Yes IDS is a liar and a known liar and has deliberately and knowingly lied to parliament over the savings of the bedroom tax which we can say are at least MINUS £250 million and have cost the public purse more and not saved a penny.

Those simple figures above just focus on the bedroom tax and show at least a £250 million increase to the overall HB bill.  Yet those simple figures do NOT include the alleged savings from the benefit cap, the savings from the LHA caps and the savings from the Shared Accommodation Rate or SAR and all of these are supposed to reduce the overall HB bill as well.

Therefore the bedroom tax, benefit cap, LHA cap and the SAR cap – all of the welfare reform policies put together and all intended to reduce the Housing Benefit bill – has seen that HB bill INCREASE by £250 million per year and not decrease at all!

Oh dear, IDS truly is a liar and a known liar isn’t he and ALL of the welfare reforms policies aimed at reducing the HB bill have actually increased that bill.

Is there anyone left on Planet Earth who believes the bedroom tax has saved money?

uc orwell

 

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