The Tory overall benefit cap is TEN TIMES the bedroom tax cut for social tenants

The Tory overall benefit cap (OBC) will kill off social housing.  No ifs, no buts. It is ten times worse than the bedroom tax as the figures below reveal and we need massive awareness of this if the social housing model is to survive.

How many council, ALMO and housing association, that is social landlords know that the OBC will mean a 2 parent 3 child household will only receive a maximum of £63.52 per week in Housing Benefit or that a 1 parent 4 child household will receive just £38.22 as their maximum housing benefit under the Tory OBC proposals.  Or that any larger household size will receive no housing benefit at all towards their rent?

How many social tenants realise the overall benefit cap will mean they lose their home far more and far quicker than the bedroom tax ever could?

Very few I imagine.

Yet the figures above is what the Tory OBC means outside of London from Land’s End to John O’Groats

In London, which has the higher OBC of £23,000 per year in the Tory plan the figures are £106.23 for a 2P3C household; £80.93 for the 1P4c household; and £39.07 per week maximum Housing Benefit for the 2 parent 4 child household.

This all means;

  • that social landlords cannot afford to accommodate such households as the risk of arrears is too great, and 
  • that those households cannot afford to live in social housing which is the cheapest form of rent.

All of the above household sizes and all larger household sizes account for 1 in 4 of all social tenants and if the tenant is in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support or ESA (working group) and of working-age then they are liable for the Tory OBC – the unemployed sick and disabled in other words.

The Tory OBC will lead to huge levels of arrears evictions as the simple table below shows

obctenantshortfall

The above is based on actual average 3 and 4 bed social rents in London and the rest of the country as stated in the official regulators Statistical Data Return for 2013/14 and uprates these by 2.2% for 2014/15 but does NOT include any increase for 2015/16. (So the shortfall will be about 2.2% higher than shown!)

As you can see the smallest HB shortfall is double the average bedroom tax and the largest shortfall is over ten times the bedroom tax shortfall.  What all the above figures reveal however is that none of the shortfalls in HB created by the Tory overall benefit cap can be afforded and arrears and evictions and homelessness are all inevitable

As I say above the social landlord will not be able to afford to accommodate the 2 parent 3 child household or anything larger and such households will not be able to afford even the cheapest social rents right across the country due to the Tory benefit cap policy.

The previous two blog posts on this were very detailed and long yet have generated a huge number of views, none of which dissented from the impact I state and have generated a lot of direct interest via email from social landlords.

The issue needed something simple as this post to show just how the Tory overall benefit cap policy will lead to (a) mass homelessness, (b) massive financial risk for social landlord, (c) massive inaffordability for social tenants, and(d) the resulting massive increases in benefit spend (and no saving whatsoever) this will mean for the taxpayer in the inevitable homelessness the OBC directly creates.

______________________

Linked posts:

(1) – The benefit cap equals 1 MILLION men women and children evicted from social housing!

(2) – Tory overall benefit cap means the social landlord cannot afford the tenant on benefit !!

 

Tory overall benefit cap means the social landlord cannot afford the tenant on benefit !!

IF the Tories are NOT voted out on 7 May 2015 then the social housing model is dead and (a) social landlords will go bust, and (b) the social tenant will be evicted and become homeless and all due to the Tory benefit cap policy.

That hugely bold statement is not as political as it may appear as the proposed benefit cap reduction to £23,000 in London and 10% less than than in the rest of the UK in the regional overall benefit cap planned WILL mean that social landlord, yes that is SOCIAL LANDLORDS, will be unable to accommodate so many household groups if they are on benefit as they are too much of a financial risk.

That opening bold statement is true and valid and it is horrific!

The bedroom tax reduces housing benefit is the property is UNDER OCCUPIED yet the Tory benefit cap is to reduce housing benefit by even more that the 14% or 25% bedroom tax cut if the property is FULLY OCCUPIED and the household is not working or even a disabled household.

In May 2010 when the Tories took office the social housing benefit tenant would get 100% of their rent paid in Housing Benefit and there were no deductions as the bedroom tax or the benefit cap had not been introduced.  The chart below shows this:

FULLHB2010

Regardless of the household size denoted in the left-hand column (1P1C = 1 Parent 1 child etc) full housing benefit was paid.  The area is 100% coloured in green as this meant then that the social tenant would be accommodated by the social landlord as the financial risks of the bedroom tax for UNDER OCCUPATION and the benefit cap for FULL OCCUPATION had yet to be implemented by the Tory-led coalition.

Yet now look what happens to the same graph if the Tories are not voted out and they implement the reduced overall benefit cap and the regionalised benefit cap

FULLHB2015

All of the areas shaded red represent when full housing benefit will NOT be paid due to the Tory benefit cap and these households become a financial risk too far for social landlords to chance.  Note well that the reductions to HB from the benefit cap in the above are far higher than any bedroom tax deductions.

So we find that a social landlord in London cannot afford to accommodate a household larger than a 2 parent 2 child household and on benefit in a property at a social rent level.  For the London social landlord operating the Affordable (sic) Rent model (AR) the 2 Parent 1 child household is a financial risk too far as is all other larger household sizes.

For the provincial social landlord, that is everywhere bar London, they cannot afford to accommodate any household size bigger than the 1 parent 3 child one on benefit at social rent levels.  At AR levels they cannot afford to accommodate a larger household than the 1 parent 2 child one on benefit.

LET ME HAMMER THE POINT HOME SO THAT EVERYONE CAN UNDERSTAND

The 2 parent 3 child (2P3C above) in London will get a maximum HB of £106.23 per week.  A 3 bed social rent property there is circa £135 per week meaning they will have to find over £1500 minimum per year from their welfare benefits to pay the cheapest social rent.  They cannot afford to do this and will be evicted and made homeless

The 2 parent 3 child household in Liverpool or Hull or Newcastle or Birmingham, that is anywhere outside of London, will get a maximum of £63.52 per week in Housing Benefit and typically will have a social rent of £100 per week.  They will have to find £1900 per year to pay towards rent from their welfare benefits and will also be evicted and made homeless.

The benefit cap applies to all those of working-age.  To be exempt from it you need to be a pensioner or working at least 30 hours per week and earning £12k per year.

If you are disabled and unable to work but not in the support group of ESA it still affects you, so this policy does not just affect those out of work, that is those called unemployed, it affects the sick and the disabled who are unable to work.

Yes sick and disabled households will also be evicted and made homeless and cost the taxpayer so much more in taxes!

Hundreds of thousands of social tenants will be evicted because of the benefit.  Even more will be evicted from privately rented too and there will be nowhere they can live except in unsuitable temporary homeless accommodation provided to them on a take it or leave it basis by their local council.

That means a 2 parent 3 child household will have to live in two rooms of a Travelodge at best and more likely temporary accommodation not even up to that standard.  It means the 3 children’s education and life chances have been inflicted a mortal blow and they will not succeed at school and note too that temporary unsuitable accommodation could be miles from their schools as well.

Get a job or lose your home, even if you are sick or disabled, is what this outrageous benefit cap policy means.

Every social housing professional reading this has just gone ashen from the lowest housing assistant to the Chief Executive.  The finance directors have all just slashed their wrists as it does mean that the social housing model is non financially sustainable and many social landlords will go bust if the Tories are not voted out of office on 7 May.

They will also know that because private rent levels are higher than social rent levels and at least 25% above social landlord ‘affordable’ (sic) rent levels that the private sector landlord will be evicted all benefit tenants and refusing to take any benefit tenant other than the single tenant.

If you think the social landlord finance director has it bad, the finance director of every local council in the country has slashed both wrists and given birth to multiple litters of kittens!!  Temporary homeless provision will need to increase ten-fold due to the Tory benefit cap proposal and so will its cost which will be at a conservative (no pun and pun intended) estimate at least £5 billion per year more than this benefit cap policy could ever save.

But let me put this in the simplest words possible that a member of the general public with no idea whatsoever of how housing or housing benefit works:

The Tory overall benefit cap policy will see half a million children in temporary homeless accommodation next Christmas and will cost every taxpayer at least £200 per year more in tax 

Dear housing colleague – the Homes for Britain rally said you have never made a fuss before but now need to.  Bloody well hurry up else you won’t have a job in 6 months time

Dear Tory (and all other) local councils, Are you happy that Tory central government has just transferred massive additional cost and additional workload to you yet giving you less money!

Dear Joe Public, Are you happy to pay hundreds of pounds more in tax to see hundreds of thousand more children in unsuitable and life-damaging temporary housing and tens of thousands more people on the streets because you think a cap on benefits leads to a reduction in your taxes?

Dear Labour Party – What the hell are you doing saying you will keep all of the Tory welfare reforms such as this benefit cap with the exception of the bedroom tax?  Are you capable of seeing what the above means and that should you take office and adopt this policy you will see the welfare benefit bill skyrocket and totally bugger the economy for which you will be blamed!!

Dear everyone,

Note too that the current political row that sees the Tories saying they will make a further £12 billion of welfare cuts yet will not say where from will have to be increased because they wrongly assume the benefit cap policy will save money yet will cost at least £5 billion per year more.  As such that £12 billion target now becomes £17 billion and note well the £12 billion cuts is just for the first two years of a new Tory administration and not £12 billion over the full 5 year life cycle of a parliament.

_________________________________________

Notes

To those who will ask about the workings out of the above two simple graphs

(a) The amounts of welfare benefit and child tax credits (that is all bar HB) each household unit gets that table is in my blog here entitled The benefit cap equals 1 MILLION men women and children evicted from social housing! 

(b) The illustrative figures used for social rent and AR rent in London and the provinces are below:

BEDROOMS LIVERPOOL SOCIAL RENT LIVERPOOL  AR ‘AFFORDABLE’ RENT LONDON SOCIAL RENT LONDON AR ‘AFFORDABLE’ RENT
1 80 95 95 200
2 90 105 120 250
3 100 115 135 300
4 110 135 150 350

The figures above are illustrative of typical rents in and out of London.  Yes a 3 bed social rent in Hull may be £10 pw less but in Birmingham or York or Norwich it may be £10 pw more so while they do differ the figures are perfectly valid ones when averaged out.

For everyone in social housing please please please do not say to me what you did when I presented the benefit cap to the CIH SE conference over three years ago that regardless of cost social landlords will always accommodate those in need.

I appreciate and love the sentiment people but no social landlord can afford to do this as the figures clearly show and it is time to make one hell of a bloody fuss as your job and your sector depends on it.

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

 

The benefit cap equals 1 MILLION men women and children evicted from social housing!

If you are sick, disabled or unemployed and the Tories are not voted out in May you will be evicted and you will have nowhere you can possibly live.  The overall benefit cap proposal will mean you work or are evicted and that applies even if you are sick or disabled and unable to work.

It means that a social landlord –  a housing association or council landlord – which are the cheapest forms of housing is unaffordable to the sick, disabled and unemployed tenant as the social landlord cannot AFFORD to have you as a tenant.

It means the sick, the disabled and the unemployed have nowhere to live at all. It means the social housing model of HA and council landlords is dead.

How does the benefit cap work?

  1. The cap figure which is now £26,000 per year or £500 per week is the starting point.
  2. From this figures the amount of welfare benefit and tax credits the tenant household receives is deducted leaving a maximum amount that household will get in housing benefit – HB in social housing or LHA in privately rented.
  3. So if the household gets £400 per week in welfare benefits and tax credits if will get a maximum of £100 per week in housing benefit.

A simple process with the housing benefit being the one benefit which is reduced by this cap. Note the amount any households receives in welfare benefit and tax credits is the same whether it lives in London or Land’s End or John O’Groats.  The figures are the same right across the country on other words.

What are the Tories proposing?

Firstly, they have already confirmed the £26k per year cap will reduce to £23k per year (£440.79 per week) and Cameron again confirmed that in conversation with Paxman in the Battle for Number 10 TV programme this week

Secondly, today, there has been a leak of proposed Tory policy to say that the £23k cap will apply in London but will be less in the rest of the country  as a new regionalised policy to reflect the higher cost of living in the capital will be put in place.

  • Regional Benefit Caps - The £23,000 limit would vary in different parts of the country, with for instance Londoners receiving the top amount due to the higher cost of living. Possible saving – not known and dependent on where levels were set

What does this all mean?

As stated above the amount of welfare benefit and child tax credits a household receives is the same across the country – the same in London as they are in Liverpool or any other lower rent and cost of living area. A couple with 3 children gets the same amount of money in London as a similar household gets in Liverpool.

The amounts of other welfare benefits and tax credits is therefore fixed wherever you live and depends on your household composition.

Below is a table which gives these figures and also includes columns showing the maximum amount of housing benefit each household size will get if the cap is at £23,000 per year and at 90% of that (£20,700 pa) which I have used to apply the reduced regional benefit cap proposed for say Liverpool.

OBC 23K AND 90 PERCENT

What does this mean?

The table above is self-explanatory.  So find the household size in the left-hand Column 1 and we see a 2 parent 3 child household gets £334.56 per week in welfare benefit and child tax credit as shown in Column 2.  That means if the cap is £23k per year as proposed in London that household will receive a maximum housing benefit of £106.23 per week as shown in Column 3.  If they lived in say Liverpool  – and lets call them the Smiths – they will get a maximum HB of £63.52 per week under the regional benefit cap set at 10% below London figures and as shown in Column 4.

So the Smiths are fine with Mr Smith working and Mrs Smith being an at home mum  – the old nuclear family scenario – and one day Mr Smith gets run over by a bus or loses his (zero hours contract) job or cannot work for some reason. All of a sudden they become a benefit family.  They will only receive £63.52 per week in housing benefit and their rent on a 3 bed housing association property is £100 per week.

They cannot afford to find the £36.48 per week in rent from their welfare benefits and tax credits (even if they use foodbanks too!) and so pretty quickly they will be evicted unless Mr and Mrs Smith can find a job paying 18% more than the national minimum wage for 35 hours per week.  In short get a job or get evicted.

It also means that social landlords cannot afford the financial risk of any 2 parent 3 child household – existing tenant or prospective new one – and even if they are working as should they job be lost then this household becomes a financial risk too far for the landlord given HB will not cover the rent in a low rent area for the cheapest form of rented housing!

Families split up and circa 1 in 2 marriages end in divorce?  So Mrs Smith tells Mr Smith she is somehow pregnant and Mr Smith says I am leaving you for my secretary [Ignore the sexist nature reader just one example of how things can happen] and so Mr Smith buggers off to see if the grass is greener leaving the Smiths as a one parent 4 child household.

The Smiths now get £359.86 in welfare benefit and child tax credit leaving her just £38.22 per week as the maximum she receives in Housing Benefit.

Of course it could be Mr & Mrs Smith and the 3 children, one of whom has ‘special needs’ and why Mrs Smith is a stay at home mum, decide to have another child and become a 2 parent 4 child household.  Then Mr Smith, the sole wage earner gets run over by a bus – or any of hundreds of scenarios why this may happen. Mrs Smith may not work because she also looks after her ill mother who lives around the corner etc.

Whatever the scenario Mrs Smith has a choice – get a job or get evicted.

The above illustrate the huge superficiality in the overall benefit cap policy.  We can all easily foresee how so many households – existing benefit households or newly created ones through losing a job – can be caught by the extremely pernicious benefit cap policy.  Yet the policy has huge public support and even social landlords are blase about it believing it only affects the private tenant in a high rent area which is absolute naivety.

All social landlords – yes those so blase why believe the overall benefit cap does not affect them – should be able to interrogate their rent systems to see how many households they have with 3 or more children.  The national figure from an old FOI request is below and reveals that 22.87% of all households in receipt of out of work benefits have 3 children or more.

 

households out of work benefits

Social housing has 4 million households of which 69% are of working age (the pensioner is exempt from the benefit cap) and so this can apply to 2.76 million working age social tenants alone.  Of those 2 in every 3 are on Housing benefit or 1.84 million households.  If 23% of them are at risk then this is 423,000 social tenants at risk of eviction and homelessness because of the benefit cap proposals

FOUR HUNDRED & TWENTY THREE THOUSAND HOUSEHOLDS OR ONE MILLION MEN WOMEN & CHILDREN

So given even in a low rent area such as Liverpool or Hull any household with 3 or more children becomes a financial risk too far for the social landlord because of the benefit cap proposals then 1 in 4 social tenants become this financial risk too far for social landlords!!

Cue social landlords panic and rightfully so.  Yet if such households are at risk of very quick eviction if they become a benefit household by losing a job or Mr Smith buggering off with his secretary or any other reason then it means the household with 3 or more children cannot afford even the cheapest place to rent anywhere in the country!

Work or get evicted and keep you legs closed woman!!!  That is the twin message the Tory coalitions benefit cap policy means.  In today’s zero hour contract uncertain employment world in Britain very few have a job for life or any form or reliable employment and the benefit cap policy is a ‘there for the grace of God go I’ issue and NOT limited to the scrounger / shirker / White Dee lifestyle choice ne’er do well.

Given the numbers above I wonder how and why the general public are so hugely in favour of the benefit cap policy! If they realised it is a case of ‘there but for the grace of God’ policy as I have explained then the general public would surely be massively against such a policy. Yet they have been sold it as only affected the shirker living in a £2m mansion in Islington at the public and taxpayer expense and nothing more.

Social landlords reading the above will rightly shit themselves at what the overall benefit means as it does mean the end of the social housing model for the country.  No amount of informing them in the past which I have done for 3 years or more has changed their view of the benefit cap only hitting the private tenant and only then in high rent areas.  Yet as the above explains this hits a couple with 3 children in Hull living in the cheapest social housing.

What did the social housing sector say last week – Its time to make a fuss?

It is time the incredibly stupid and naive social housing sector realised what the hell the benefit cap means for them – the social housing model is directly under massive attack from the benefit cap policy and they haven’t even realised it!!

Now how many blogs have I written saying the ‘sector’ needs to think about what the welfare reform (sic) policies mean? Yes scores of them and been lambasted by the social housing sector for saying they have not thought!!!

If you are workless – meaning unemployed or unable to work through sickness or disability or other health reasons – or your husband buggers off with his secretary, then you are evicted and will have nowhere, absolutely nowhere at all to live if you do not get a job.

Where will the many tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of such families live?  How many BILLIONS of pounds extra will this cost the taxpayer in hugely increased Housing Benefit payments for temporary homeless provision for these households who can not live anywhere else?

Just how fecking stupid and incredibly ill-conceived is this policy? Well apart from being much less stupid than the mind-blowingly stupid general public and social landlord who believe the benefit cap policy has any merit at all!

UPDATES

Yes the benefit cap will affect private tenants too and of course they will be evicted far quicker than the social tenants for benefit cap arrears.  As to what number of private tenants will be evicted it is too hard to estimate but the original benefit cap estimate had PRS tenants at 54% of all tenants affected and social housing tenants at 46% of the total – so 423,000 SRS households affected on that comparator would see 495,000 PRS households or an additional 1.2 million men women and children.

If so the HB bill will rise astronomically and possibly by more than the £12 billion cuts the inept Tory coalition is seeking.  Huge Tip – by as many run down cheap delapidated B&Bs to rent back to councils as huge rents!!!

More importantly the Labour Party has said it will keep the benefit cap and all other welfare reform policies of the Tories and only abolish the bedroom tax policy.  That means and can only mean that Rachel Reeves and the Labour Party itself does not have a clue as to what the benefit cap and other welfare reform policies mean and they are well and truly incompetent.

The above benefit cap for SRS and PRS households could well be 2.2 million  men women and children or if you prefer the population of Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, Newcastle and Brighton ALL made homeless.

But I must be making all of the above up dear reader as despite the figures proving my points, the Labour Party see no ills in the benefit cap; neither does the social housing sector and neither does Joe Public!!

FURTHER UPDATE

Just been asked about single person rate which is set at 70% of family rate as now so current £500 cap for families is £350 pw for single persons.

£23k cap in London takes this down to 70% of that figure or £16,100 per year which is £308.56 per week.

Given dole (JSA) will become £73.12 per week in April with the 1% increase as shown above it means the single person will only receive £235.44 per week maximum HB in London.  Given the 1 person LHA rate for parts of Central London is this year £258.06 per week it means the single person there will need to find £22.62 out of their £73.12 dole to pay the rent! And that assumes they can get a 1 bed property from a private landlord at £258.06 per week / £1117.40 pcm too!

What was that about benefit cleansing in London!!! Anyone still think the Tories overall benefit cap is good?  Does that include the Labour Party who want to continue with it?  Is Rachel Reeves strategy it is better for 2.2 million men women and children to be made homeless rather than have Labour labelled as the party OF welfare for coming out against the perversely popular overall benefit cap!! Hell Yes!!

SUNDAY UPDATE

Today sees Iain Duncan Smith admit he will not say where the £12 billion of welfare cuts in the first two years will come from.  As I said before the scale of the £25 billion of total welfare cuts means they cannot come from those of working-age alone, who receive £54 billion per year and must come from the pensioner too as they receive £116 billion per year in welfare spend.

However IDS predicts the reduction in the benefit cap will save money yet it will significantly increase the welfare spend by as much as £3 to 5 billion per year due to hugely increased HB costs in homelessness.  So to achieve the cuts targets the actual cuts will need to be £3 – 5 billion more due to the cock up with the benefit cap.  This will exacerbate the current position which shows, from the official figures produced by the DWP,  that the 4 welfare reform policies that sought to reduce HB (bedroom tax, benefit cap, LHA cap and SAR cap) actually cost MORE in housing benefit as that has increased in real terms!

Then imagine you are a social landlord.  The bedroom tax means you cannot under occupy an empty property as the financial risk is too great.  Now we see the benefit cap meaning the social landlord cannot afford to fully occupy an empty property as the financial risk with the benefit cap is much greater.  The social landlord cant under occupy and cant fully occupy, or in simple terms they are fecked whatever way!

There is national outrage largely thanks to campaigns by Shelter that 90,000 children spent Christmas in temporary homeless accommodation.  Yet if the benefit cap reduction happens as is being stated above next Christmas there may well be 500,000 children in temporary accommodation and 90,000 will appear to be nostalgia!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Housing need to DP Brandon Lewis

Is there anyone in housing old enough out there to remember when Information Technology was called data processing?  If you do you will know that today you can wear a computer processor more powerful than the ones that put a man on the moon when the term data processing was commonplace.  Yet if you don’t remember the term data processing you will say wow look at this iWatch!

Data processing  – take data, the figures and statistics and numbers which are readily to hand in this digital age and then you PROCESS that data to make meaningful information – the data is thus purposeful and much more purposeful than being able to play Candy Crush on your wrist. Yet ‘Housing’ is full of digital geeks who are so obsessed with the technology itself that they miss the purposeful information and that is a problem.

For example, at a global generic level, social housing is facing mass introspection and dare I say panic over VfM as ministerial buffoons such as Brandon Lewis claim (and note that word claim has no substantiation or data to support) that social housing does not give VfM.

Cue inordinately and unnecessary tracts of counterclaims by housing people, yet look at the simple 4 pieces of data below to explain data processing:

  1. Average social rent is £83 per week.
  2. Average private rent is £163 per week
  3. Subsidy to social housing is £4.5 billion over 4 years
  4. Social housing has 4 million (or so) properties

Four factual pieces of data and verifiable official data with 1, 2 and 4 coming from the DCLG’s English Housing Survey for 2013 and 3 from official government announcements.

Lets process!

  • From 1 and 2 we see social rent is £80 per week cheaper than private rent
  • From 3 and 4 we see average subsidy per social home is £5.41 per property per week
  • From those two simply processes we can say that social rent is, after removing any subsidy, £3,892 per year cheaper, ceteris paribus, than private rent.
  • From 1 and 2 and 4 we see that social landlords charge 4 million lots of £3,892 per year less to its customers than private landlords do – a sum of £15.57 billion per year.
  • From that we can say social housing has £15.57 billion less constraint and cost to the overall British economy thus enabling it to function much more cost effectively

Yes reader, I am deliberately simplifying this so that housing people who wear IT rather than use it to create meaningful information can understand!

Dear Brandon Lewis, shove your unsubstantiated and politically motivate claims where the sun does not shine.

Dear Brandon Lewis if you wish to take away the £1.125 billion per year in subsidy from social housing then you risk an added cost to the economy of £15.57 billion per year – the sum that social housing returns to UK plc in saving for the £1.125 billion per year in investment…..a £13.84 saving for every £1 you invest.

Now what were you saying about value for money in the social housing model minister!?

Of course you can add to the basis argument above with many factual embellishments to hammer the point home that social housing is hugely cost effective.  The average quality of the product itself is better maintained than the average private let and borne out by Decent Homes data, as is the average service level given that social housing tenants have guarantees and legal rights to repair and maintenance rather than seeing retaliatory evictions as happens in the PRS.

An incredibly obvious piece of information is that given social rents are so much lower than social housing, they provide much lower constraints to an employment-seeking tenant than the private rented sector.  Or the private rented sector is far more welfare dependent for its tenants than the social rented sector!

You ever heard a Candy Crush playing housing professional say that reader? Or even a housing professional who wishes to monitor and control an unlicensed drone with a 15-minute maximum battery life from their Apple iWatch while simultaneously playing Candy Crush!!

I will stop there as the digitally fixated housing professional has the attention span of a gnat as this digital age dictates and the medium is more important to them than the message itself.  This information can only be purposeful if the digitally-fixated great and good of social housing actually read anything longer than 140 characters!

It is not a rant against digital per se as the universal panacea we are all told it is; rather digital is the latest negligent deflection away from housing selling and promoting the BENEFITS of the social housing model.  Digital replaces housing plus and involvement in anti social behaviour and housing involvement in education, employment and training (EET) and so many other examples in which housing took its eye off the ball and forgot to promote social housing itself.

 

Housing in Ireland – Lessons on how to challenge for the UK?

Anyone involved in social housing in England, Scotland or Wales seen what is happening in Eire?

A grassroots organisation sprang up called the Anti Austerity Alliance and they have elected councillors and TDs (what we call MPs) and below is their views on housing which are well worth a read for social landlord and tenant and private and home owners.

A call for rents to be no more that 10 – 15% of income for example!! Below is what they say on rented housing and anyone involved with rented housing, social or private, will find fascination in what they say which I have simply copied and pasted below.

It may appear to be socialist language yet the AAA call for greater equality for all forms of housing, owned and social and private rented, with private rent regulation and no evictions even for homeowners.  This is radically different to the three East is East Never the Twain factions in UK housing of social rent, private rent and home owners and places the stability of a home above those sectional interests.

A home and the security of it is a basic human right whether socially or privately rented or even on a mortgage.

I put this out for informed debate and views on whether for example a tenants party or something akin could be created here in the UK and gain local council or MP representation as has been achieved by AAA in Ireland?

Read on…

 

What We Stand For-Rent

The high cost of rent is one of the most serious problems facing working class people. Private tenants are forced to spend 30% of their income on rent on average and nearly a quarter fear losing their home in the next year. Dublin rents have risen 35% since 2011 and are now only 6% off their peak in 2007, when wages were much higher. Alan Kelly’s proposal to link rents to inflation for three years would fix them at unaffordable levels and prompt increases from greedy landlords before they come into effect. Rent Supplement has also been cut 28% since 2009. Joan Burton claimed when introducing the last cuts that “There will be no incidence of homelessness due to these changes” but in reality, they have become the biggest direct cause. 450 families were made homeless in Dublin alone last year and the problem is spreading outside the capital to the commuter counties of Kildare, Wicklow and Meath, and to Galway,Limerick and Cork.rent

This crisis of rental accommodation has its roots in the property bubble, when profiteering by builders, developers, landowners, buy-to-let landlords, and banks put buying a home out of reach for hundreds of thousands of workers. Despite all the propaganda about a ‘national property obsession’, the percentage of people renting increased from 21% in 1991 to 30% in 2011. This put huge upward pressure on rents. Even those that got on the ‘property ladder’ by taking out huge mortgages have paid a heavy price. Over 100,000 are in long term arrears and face eviction and many more are struggling with repayments now they have lost their jobs, or are crippled by austerity taxes. Meanwhile, local authorities built nowhere near enough council housing. In the 1970s, 27% of all new houses, or over 6,000 a year, were built by local authorities, whereas from 1996-2006 only 37,500 were built, less than 6%. Had the government maintained 1970s’ levels of construction, we would now have an additional 135,500 local authority houses/apartments. Instead, after decades of privatisation and cuts, traditional local authority housing has declined from 18% of all residences in 1961 to under 5%.

After the crash, public expenditure on local authority housing was cut 71% to facilitate bailing out banks and property developers. Local authorities stopped building almost entirely and the housing list doubled to 90-100,000 households. Taking into account additional households on Rent Supplement or the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) but not on any housing list, up to 175,000 households, or more than 400,000 people, are in need of permanent, secure, affordable housing – substantially more than the 86,000 households currently living in traditional local authority housing.

The combination of all these factors has led to huge demand for privately-owned rented accommodation and created one of the largest, most expensive, but least secure and lowest quality ‘private’ rental sectors in Europe. The state directly subsidises around half of it, through Rent Supplement, RAS, the new Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and long term leasing from failed developers in NAMA. These schemes dish out well over €600m a year to landlords – and the banks that gave them buy-to-let mortgages and crashed the economy.

The government is planning yet more of this privatised ‘social housing’, intending to put another 86,000 households onto RAS, HAP and long term private leases by 2020. Despite Alan Kelly’s claim to have “put more money into housing than anyone on this island in the history of this State”, when you cut through the spin, the government only plans to build or acquire 12,000 new local authority units between now and 2020 – a pathetic 2,000 a year. This is less than half the level of the 1970s and less than Fianna Fáil and the Greens built in 2009!

So, what should be done? Tackling the rent crisis requires making decent, secure and affordable housing available to everyone because all sectors of housing are interconnected. This could be based on two simple principles: no one should ever be without decent, secure housing for economic reasons and no one should have to spend more than 10-15% of their income on housing.

Achieving this could involve: An immediate ban on economic evictions. Change the law so landlords cannot sell or refurbish a property without the tenant’s consent. An immediate rent freeze and progressive rent reductions to affordable levels.  A massive programme of direct construction of housing by local authorities to satisfy existing housing need and ensure adequate future supply. This would provide tens of thousands of jobs and help reduce private rents and house prices. Compulsory purchase of building land at agricultural prices to eliminate profiteering would further reduce costs; during the boom 40-50% of the price of a new house was swallowed up by exorbitant prices paid to land-hoarding farmers and developers. Acquiring suitable buy-to-let and other private rental properties to immediately increase supply of affordable rented accommodation. Landlords could be incentivised to participate through taxation of rental profits at 80-90%, with compensation on the basis of proven need.

Writing down mortgages to affordable levels and writing off unsustainable arrears. This would bring down house prices and rents and could best be achieved by halting the privatisation of AIB and taking the wider banking system into democratic public ownership.

The above measures could be funded through: Savings from cutting government subsidies to landlords and increased income from local authority rents. A publicly owned banking system would free up vast resources. Currently around €3bn is paid to the banks each year in mortgage interest payments. Billions more could be invested in affordable housing for all, based on deposits currently lent out for private profit. Dramatically reduced housing costs would massively boost consumer spending and redirect resources to productive investment, rather than rewarding landlords and banks for doing nothing other than renting out their capital.

Higher taxation on corporations and the wealthy e.g. abolish inequitable tax reliefs, increase corporation tax, introduce a wealth tax and a third rate of income tax for high earners.

Nearly €8.5bn has been budgeted for debt service in 2015. Join in solidarity with the people of Greece instead to repudiate odious debt and demand retrospective recapitalisation of the public banking system.

The Labour Party yet again cock up the bedroom tax challenge

I despise the bedroom tax and have a zeal to get rid of it and to challenge the scores of myths it has thrown up.  If the bedroom tax was Labour policy I would have the same view that the policy is wrong, ill-conceived and thus my hatred towards it is not primarily political:  It is just bad policy and as I have detailed it does NOT save a penny, in fact it costs more to the public purse not less as the government’s own official figure reveal.

Yes that’s right the bedroom tax does not save a penny despite cutting costs at source, an issue it shares with the three other welfare reform (sic) policies introduced to cut the Housing Benefit bill in the overall benefit cap, the Local Housing Allowance caps and in the cap on the Shared Accommodation Rate age increasing to those under 35 years or age from those under 25.

ALL OF THESE FOUR POLICIES HAVE INCREASED THE HOUSING BENEFIT BILL AS A MATTER OF FACT

That may sound incredulous but the official figures bear this out and prove even after allowing for inflation and even allowing for the increase in the numbers claiming housing benefit – these reforms (sic) have only served to INCREASE the cost to the taxpayer and public purse.

We can speculate WHY that these cuts at source and caps at source have increased the overall bill till the cows come home yet the FACT remains the bedroom tax, benefit cap, LHA and SAR caps all cost more and have not saved a penny.

The Labour Party has pledged to abolish it.  Good.  Yet they are making a pig’s ear out of that challenge to this policy, that I again restate DOES NOT SAVE A PENNY and COSTS MORE.

Yesterday the London Evening Standard, a paper about as left wing in its politics as Genghis Khan, put out an article by Helen Goodman, a Labour Shadow Welfare Minister

bedroomtaxhgneveningstandard

The articles KEY or primary message is that it hits London social tenants to the tune of over £50 million per year – which is true and the actual figure is £51, 402, 071 per year.  YET in saying that the Labour Party allude to the myth that the bedroom tax saves money when it clearly and unambiguously does not save a penny and costs more as the official figures show.

That is the political strategy of the incompetent and unfortunately all too common with the Labour Party as I have discussed many times before from Rachel Reeves stating what she would change in order to counteract the alleged and mythical savings the Tories claim for it to Ed Miliband failing to make a fool of David Cameron on at least two occasions when the Prime Minister has said in parliament that the disabled are exempt from it when there are no exemptions whatsoever for disabled people in the bedroom tax.

If Miliband had known the bedroom tax system and regulations he would have been able to say that Cameron clearly did not know his own party’s policy when he said the disabled were exempt.  That would have brought the policy to its knees and the media coverage of that would have been widespread and would hammer home to the general public (and to Labour MPs too!) the chronic unfairness and pernicious nature of the policy.

[Just for any pedants out there this is a discretion but not an exemption if a disabled child if they are ‘disabled enough’ but that is not an exemption it is a discretion to and of your local council]

Moreover, and a minor point, the Labour Party cannot even get their facts right as the above says that Londoners lose more cash than people in any other region which is a false statement.  The cut in the North West is greater than this at £54, 355, 089 comprising of 72, 041 households being affected at  a lower cost admittedly to the 47, 180 affected in inner and outer London and is £3 million more than the cut in London

Yes the 48, 247 figure in the article is wrong too and the latest figures are the 47, 180 I state above.  A little bit more than pedantry and especially when the hyperbole of the article says Labour Party ‘new ‘ figures’ when in fact the 48, 247 figure used wrongly by the Labour Party is the higher figure from August 2014 – How can 6 months out of date figures be new and even back in August the cut was still greater in the North West than in London of course!

The ONE AND ONLY ISSUE with the bedroom tax is does it save money.  As it does NOT save the public purse a penny then there are NO SAVINGS at all to the public purse and ultimately to the individual taxpayer.  Just what is the point of the penury, poverty and ill-health the policy creates if it doesn’t save a bloody penny!!!

Yes I am angry at that, rightfully angry and bloody angry too as I have seen first hand the pernicious impacts this pernicious policy causes and directly causes.

However, I am just as angry at Her Majesty’s Official Opposition, aka the Labour Party, as it is their job to oppose and they have been repeatedly inept at doing this and could have put this matter to bed far sooner by exposing the lies and lack of his own policy knowledge by Cameron and the myths that this policy saves money.  Their incompetence has prolonged this policy and made it an election battleground when if they had exposed that it does not save a penny, which is the fact of the matter, then even the most belligerently stubborn Tory Party would have known this was a policy and election battle they could not win upon.

Here from Nov 2013 is Cameron lying to parliament and in direct response to a question raised by Miliband saying

“Obviously what we’ve done is exempt disabled people who need an extra room”

There is no exemption at all but the incompetent Ed Miliband, or his gaggle of advisors and researchers within the Labour Party simply did not know.  Rank incompetence.

Just last month on TV Cameron issued yet another lie about the bedroom tax which again the Labour Party failed to pick up on as they clearly do not know the policy and how it works:

“It is a basic issue of fairness. You don’t get subsidised if you are renting privately.

This is another lie as I commented on and gave chapter and verse and factual examples as to why it was a lie.  But yet again the Labour Party, Her Majesty’s Official Opposition proved they do not know the policy and how it works – rank and utter incompetence as exposing the ‘big cheese’ of the government in any policy means that policy and that ‘big cheese’ is history – no 2nd term for Call me Dave let alone the arrogance of him saying he wont run a 3rd time!

Cameron also lied about the bedroom tax and housing benefit here in January 2012 when he said that housing benefit had reduced when it had not

All parties are committed, as I understand it, to reform housing benefit. That was Labour’s commitment before the last election. The housing benefit bill is completely out of control. Labour’s own welfare spokesman said last week that at £20 billion, it was unacceptable and it had to change and what we’ve seen so far, as housing benefit has been reformed and reduced, is that actually we have seen rent levels come down. So we’ve stopped ripping off the taxpayer.”

Yet as the official figures released, without irony or ambiguity reveal, that the Housing Benefit bill has increased and increased from £20.8 billion at May 2010 to £24 billion today when the coalitions stated aim of the bedroom tax, benefit cap, LHA and SAR cap was to reduce it by £2 billion per year.  Despite all of these reforms (sic)  – reform means to improve – the Housing Benefit bill has INCREASED in real terms and not a penny has been saved.

Yet once again the latest Labour Party incompetent alludes to the cuts, which have happened, equating with savings which are mythical.

Perhaps the biggest neglect of attacking the claimed savings is in the BBC London example which revealed that LB Westminster spending up to £153k per year in Housing Benefit for those local private tenants who had been evicted directly because of private landlords rents not being met due to this Tory Governments caps on Local Housing Allowance or LHA the private sector variant of housing benefit.  This is one huge reason of many that explains why cutting or capping HB in one area leads to much higher cost in another HB area, in this case temporary homelessness

Explaining to the general public how a cut or a cap can actually increase the cost is difficult.  It just doesn’t sound plausible or credible yet the BBC London piece demonstrates this easily.  Is this a case of the Labour Party believing selling the bedroom tax costs more argument is too difficult for the fickle electorate to comprehend?  If so add patronising to their rank incompetence!

I have no issue with the Labour Party trying to attract the London vote and London as a region has the LOWEST percentage of social tenants affected by the bedroom tax.  That is fact as it is just 8.48% of all social tenants affected compared to the national average of 14% of all social tenants affected – A hugely different issue to the headline Labour sought of Londoners being the worst affected region of the country!!!

For the record nationally (England Wales and Scotland) it is 14.45%, the North East is the highest at 19.3% of social housing tenants claiming HB; NW it is 17.9%; Yorks & Humber is 15.9%; East Midlands is 14.9%; WM at 14.45%; the East region at 11.39%; the SE at 9.61%; SW at 11.32% and Scotland and Wales both at 19% – In short the London region is by far the least affected region for bedroom tax in Great Britain.

Yet again the competence of the Labour Party in its strategy to challenge the bedroom tax is simply inept  and why oh why do they not say the bedroom tax does not save a penny instead of alluding to the Tory myth that it does.

Go back to the figures here. IF the bedroom tax saves money then the overall Housing Benefit bill must fall in real terms and especially as the bedroom tax IS deducted at source and less HB is paid, as is also the case with the benefit cap and the LHA and SAR caps.  YET the HB bill has INCREASED and in real terms so all of the these 4 policies, the so-called ‘reforms’ have NOT saved a penny. – That is the message the Labour Party needs to accept and promote in order to challenge the pernicious bedroom tax policy.  Yet time and time again they have proved incompetent at challenging its cost or its operation as repeatedly lied about by Cameron, IDS, Freud, Webb, Harper and McVey (amonst others!)

Its about bloody time they did!

The sheer bloody lunacy of RTB and welfare reform (sic) – They cost the taxpayer MORE

If ever you wish for a cast iron example of political policy and local council lunacy then you will find it here in an article in 24 dash housing released today.

The London borough of Westminster has bought back 45 council flats at an average cost of over £400,000 that it sold under the right to buy for less than £100,000 each!

What a way to waste £12 million of public money by the Tory council there and the reason for this lunacy, the current welfare reform policy of Tory central government!

rtbwestminster

The welfare reform of capping Local Housing Allowance or LHA – the private rented sector version of housing benefit – means that LB Westminster has seen a huge surge in private renting tenants being evicted by private landlords as housing benefit (LHA) no longer covers the rent.

This means these evicted families become the duty of the council (LB Westminster) to rehouse and regardless of the cost of rehousing these evicted families in temporary or permanent accommodation.

Fortunately we know how much LB Westminster is spending on rehousing these homeless families  – up to £13,000 PER MONTH!!! – as this was detailed a few years ago in February 2013 and 13 months after the Tory coalition capped LHA at £400 per week by BBC London and please watch this 2 minute or so video footage of that as it will truly astound you as to the cost!

It is presumably cheaper for LB Westminster to buy back 45 flats which costs the taxpayer over £12 million than to accommodate the huge rise in homeless families created by Tory central government policy in the LHA caps and then added to in the overall benefit cap policy from October 2013!

What the above reveals:

  1. The RTB policy per se is a disaster for the public purse
  2. Tory local government is forced to waste millions of public money directly due to Tory central government policy

Yet it is much more than that and only today sees Tory central government policy advocating even more RTB to buy short-term votes that will bugger up the position even further!  In other words with more and more social housing being sold off all councils will need to use the prohibitively expensive private B&Bs and hotel more than now.

One final point and a very important one.  IDS was outraged that in some cases more than £100k per year was spent on HB to accommodate families – That is why he brought in the LHA cap and then the benefit cap.  However, when the political hyperbole was looked at it was found that there were 5 (FIVE) only cases in the UK that received £100k per year in HB.  Still 5 cases too many but only 5 out of them 4,751,551 HB recipients.

The BBC London film reveals there are now well more than 5 cases in LB Westminster alone!!!  In simple terms and as a direct result of the ill-conceived policy of IDS and the Tory coalition we have MORE households costing over £100k per year than before!!!

The bill shown in the BBC London clip of £12,678 per month is a yearly figure of £152,136 and that is one case of many as again the film shows!

That is one reason why, as I explained here in detail, the four welfare reform (sic) policies introduced by the Tories to reduce overall HB cost (bedroom tax, benefit cap, LHA cap and SAR cap) have actually INCREASED the overall HB cost and not saved the public purse a penny.

 

 

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,301 other followers

%d bloggers like this: