Now its Philippa Roe misleading on HB – AKA doing a Cameron

Philippa Roe of Westminster City Council has been up to her usual statistical sophistry concerning the HB cuts and caps in an article in the Telegraph, the voice of the Tory Party as it is rightly known.

The usual opening of the article is fire and brimstone as to how outrageous it is that the public purse is paying huge amounts of HB for ‘some’ properties, and of course not stating:-

  • it is private landlords that set rent not tenants and,
  • that private landlords have the choice whether to allocate the property to a HB claiming tenant or not.

So much for Shapps comments on tenants playing the system this week!

Ms Roe then goes on to say: –

Much has been reported about the potential impact of the caps upon families living in the capital due to fears they may be priced out of their current area; Westminster in particular has been highlighted because the rents are substantially higher than elsewhere in the UK. We have 50,000 rented properties in Westminster and, of those, 5,000 households are affected by the new caps. However, not all of these households will need to move. There is substantial evidence that rent levels have been driven by the Housing Benefit levels.”

This needs some further investigation:

(A)   “We have 50,000 rented properties in Westminster and, of those, 5,000 households are affected by the new caps”

Here we see Ms Roe intimating that just one in ten will be affected by stating 5,000 out of 50,000 rented properties. What she doesn’t say is that would be 5,000 out of the 8510 HB claims in the private sector that the official HB statistics released by the DWP show for Westminster.  The HB caps of course don’t affect social lettings it is only the private rented tenant and only then if they are claiming HB/LHA.  Surely Ms Roe knows that the HB caps only affect private sector lettings, she has just highly conveniently forgot to say that! An error both of omission and of commission or in common parlance a deliberate lie.

The fact she is attempting to hide is that the HB caps will affect 59% of the private rented properties in Westminster that are claiming HB / LHA – the same ones that the HB caps target and ONLY affect.

(B)   “However, not all of these households will need to move. There is substantial evidence that rent levels have been driven by the Housing Benefit levels”

The assertion that not all of these households will need to move Ms Roe has cleverly stated after and directly following her errant intimation that it affects just 10% of HB claimants in Westminster.  It affects 59% of the private tenants, the ONLY ones the caps affect.   That’s a huge non sequitur Ms Roe as well she knows.

Ms Roe then goes on to say “Whilst we do not doubt some households may need to move, they may not have to move very far.” So tell us what number of the 59% affected will need to move then Ms Roe?  Of course she doesnt do that as it would expose the extent of this benefit diaspora

Ms Roe goes on to say “Even if larger families do need to move further afield, Westminster has excellent transport links which will allow those who move an easy trip back to visit friends or to go to work.”  No comments or discussion on the added costs of getting to work Ms Roe?

All of these comments come after Ms Roe has deliberately misled the reader to believe it is only 10% of people that will be affected but as I’ve explained above its 59%.  She goes on with some succour and comfort for the 59%

The council is committed to offering support to households affected by these changes wherever possible through our Housing Options Service, which provides advice to families to find suitable properties both within Westminster and other London boroughs, will help negotiate rent levels with landlords and assist parents with changing schools. “

So her council is committed to offering support, ‘wherever possible’ then? When is it possible and when is it not Ms Roe.  She goes on with some other caveats

For those families that have a genuine need to remain in Westminster, such as those with children at crucial stages in their education or those with social care packages, we can allocate a discretionary Housing Payment to them to allow them to stay in the borough.”

So the caveats then are families, and do we assume that WCC is not going to offer support to single persons?  And within these ONLY families it is only certain families in certain situations!  To those families with social care packages (Nice to see WCC uses unregulated PRS to house those it has a duty of care for!) And even then this limited succour to 6 times the number of persons than Ms Roe admits, it is limited to DHPs that ‘can be allocated’ and not will be allocated I note!

Ms Roe has been deliberately engaged in sophistry in this article to downplay a problem that is six times higher than she is making out.  She and her council know:

  • HB caps ONLY affect private sector tenants that are claiming HB/ LHA.
  • They DON’T affect social housing tenants and tenants not claiming HB
  • That 5000 WILL be affected by the HB caps in Westminster and
  • That 8510 private tenants in Westminster (59%) claim HB/LHA
  • So the percentage affected by the caps in Westminster is 5000 of 8510 or 59%

Philippa Roe has misled her constituents and the general public just as David Cameron misled parliament and the general public this week at PMQs.  Like Cameron her dissembling over HB is easily proven as the above discussion shows.

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