Bedroom Tax Appeal?
Q1: When does it become uneconomic for a council to defend a Housing Benefit decision?
A1: When everyone appeals the Bedroom Tax HB decision!
If you look at the formal HB appeal process each case is going to cost the local council thousands of pounds to defend their decision to impose the bedroom tax…unless of course the council decides that it will cost too much for them to defend each case and simply reverse their decision.
That sounds mischievous doesn’t it? A silly proposition? Yes but it is a distinct possibility I would argue and one well worth considering.
Q2: Is it a good use of taxpayer’s money spending £1000 or even £5000 which will come from local government to defend a decision which benefits central government by £728 per year?
A2: Don’t be bloody stupid Joe of course it is not!
Yet that is the precise decision each council will have to take isn’t it if everyone appeals! Oh come on Joe not everyone has a reason to appeal? That’s where we strongly disagree as I can see at least four legitimate areas in which all 660,000 could appeal the bedroom tax decision. I will outline these in the next week and like the standard letter I published saying all 660,000 should ask their council for more information I will make this widely available. This simple letter has been seen, read or downloaded 128,000 times as at 3pm Sunday afternoon and is being copied and handed out at tenant meetings, activist meeting, by unions and by many others.
Note here the DWP expected just 20,000 to appeal a mere 3% in their alleged impact assessment on the bedroom tax.
Q3: Can a local council decide to do this and simply not defend a HB decision on cost grounds?
A3: I am pretty sure they can yes and this has to be a local council decision not a central government one as local councils will be paying the cost of defending the bedroom tax decision not central government.
Note here that I have ruled out central government covering the costs of defending an appeal for a local council. It wouldn’t be doing for central government to pay back well over a billion pounds for this cost to justify a £480m saving would it!!
A £1500 per head cost to local government to defend all 660,000 cases would mean a £1 billion cost and I suspect it would be more than £1500 per case too
I have looked in some depth at the HB appeal process at the tribunal (or court in simple terms). Their “How to Appeal” brochure says the appellant (the tenant) may get 150 pages of documentation from the council. How much does it cost the council to collate 150 pages that will have to be double-checked as this is a legal process they are embarking upon to defend the bedroom tax decision. How much will the cost of internal and even external legal advice cost? Add on the cost of representation at a tribunal and….Yes it’s a huge cost to local government isn’t it? It will run into thousands to defend at their own expense a £728 per year decision that benefits central government and not them? You still think it sounds like a silly proposition reader?
How to Appeal Tribunal leaflet – http://www.justice.gov.uk/tribunals/sscs/appeals
If a local council refuses to defend its decision in the Tribunal / Court then the tenant can have the bedroom tax decision quashed.
Anyone still think the DWP were right to maintain that only 3% of all tenants would appeal – Yes that’s the real silly notion here isn’t it.
The proposition above is a lot less silly than Frank Field MP idea to have landlord come in and brick up smallest alleged ‘bedrooms’ or even take a wall down thus making it not a room let alone a bedroom. Why should social landlords go to such cost just as councils should not in my proposition above?
Food for thought? Yes as at least this idea will allow you to put food on the table!!
PS – I still advocate that all tenants ask for further information using the standard letter template I developed here. The information you get back from the council can and I suspect will provide further grounds for the formal appeal process I describe above
Why Hyacinth Bouquet, Nigel Farage, Migration Watch, Algernon the local Tory councillor and every Dail Mail reader should advise their council not to defend a HB appeal from a pleb with the bedroom tax! Oh and every Labour and Lib Dem council too!
Frank Field MP one of the most respected MPs on welfare issues in parliament calls for direct action on the bedroom tax. He says that the bedroom tax is THE most unfair welfare ‘reform’ he has seen.
Just across the Mersey from his Birkenhead constituency is Liverpool my home town and according to the National Housing Federation breakdown it has 12,649 households affected by the bedroom tax in its 5 wards. I call upon these 12,649 tenants, the 2920 in Riverside, the 2585 in Garston, the 2473 in Walton, the 2352 in Wavertree and the 2319 in West Derby to all launch a formal Housing Benefit appeal at the Tribunal or court at 36 Dale Street.
I suggest each appeal would cost the City Council £1500 and probably more to defend an average £648 bedroom tax cut imposed by the coalition. The city council would be spending £19 million of local money to defend a central government decision to take £8.2 million out of the local economy.
That is sheer economic madness.
The council would be well within their powers to decide not to pay this local cost to local taxpayers, this £19 million, and would be better allowing the Tribunals (the court) to quash every bedroom tax decision. In doing so the council would have complied with their mandated duty to assess and imposed the bedroom tax in accordance with central government wishes and then by taking the economic decision not to defend an appeal would see nobody in Liverpool be affected by the bedroom tax.
This of course applies to every council not just Liverpool.
So I call on every council to do the same. Do you really want to take millions out of your local economy? What would local businesses say? What strain does paying £19m to defend put on the rest of the council’s services? I could go on but the point being taking such a decision not to defend a HB appeal is an economic one that is in the best interests of ALL local people in ALL councils. It is not a political stance at all it is an economic decision.
Unless each council wants huge additional costs of assessing homelessness cases: Unless each councils wants its local shops closing down by the bucket load: Unless each council wants its citizens stressed to death wondering how they can pay and placing massive strain and cost on local NHS services: Unless of course councillors the fact that by my reckoning 14 of you are on the boards of housing associations in Liverpool and there is a real conflict of interest issue at play not just a potential one?
To all 12,649 tenant households affected by the bedroom tax that are already having the decision of “eat or heat” with benefits below the cost of living, with having to pay council tax for the first time, with having to find an extra 9% in electricity and gas costs, with having not a cat in hell’s chance of getting a short-term discretionary housing payment and in general are stressed to buggery over how the hell you will keep a roof over the head of your family – then APPEAL.
No doubt in Liverpool, as everywhere else across the country, there will be welfare rights advisors, the CAB, well intentioned activists and so many more who will aid you in making a formal appeal to the bedroom tax. Maybe even some local businesses worried about the loss of income will even donate to organisations fighting the bedroom tax on tenant’s behalf? It is in their interests after all to do so! There will be standard letters of appeal and standard appeal arguments put out on the internet and freely available for all tenants to use in their appeals. There will be and are local tenant groups on the ground that will help you launch a formal HB appeal and many more on the internet.
There may even be the odd lawyer with a conscience willing to donate an hour or so per week to give advice to the welfare rights advisors and others helping you launch an appeal.
The last thing I want to do is raise tenant expectations. Yet the bedroom tax tenant faces poverty, real poverty and real stress and runs a risk to their health, to their family and to the family home. No more so than in places like Norris Green a former council estate full of 3 bed houses with tree lined boulevards and plenty of green space and where to get a house there was in housing allocation jargon ‘dead man’s shoes’ as they were so sought after. Now that is very different and Norris Green is depicted wrongly as being like East LA with drive-by shootings and used by every media hack trying to further their own career in paper, radio or TV journalism. Even they get short shrift as the proud people of Norris Green tell them to go to Moss Side in Manchester or Handsworth in Birmingham or Easterhouse in Glasgow or even Birkenhead North in Frank Field’s constituency and any other of the usual places that fail to recognise the indomitable community spirit alive and kicking there which says yes it maybe a shithole to you, but it’s my shithole.
There are Norris Greens in every major city and they typify the bedroom tax. 3 bed houses where families have grown up and the children have flown the coop leaving the parents in alleged housing need of just 1 bedroom. It is still the family home, still the place where the kids come back to for mum’s roast dinner of a Sunday and the grandchildren get fussed over. Still the vital cog in family life and by any definition of society or community needed. Still the 3 bedroomed family home that costs the state far less in welfare benefit than a 1 bed private flat in Liverpool and everywhere else across the country that the coalition government fail to tell the general public.
And still the shithole and den of iniquity for all criminality, drug and alcohol misuse and the British East LA in the warped minds of Daily Mail readers and government apologists. Take away the stability that this CHEAPEST COST TO THE PUBLIC PURSE HOUSING OPTION away and then see what happens! Oh dear Middle England won’t know where these ‘miscreants’ live and that nice large house just two doors away from you in your comfortable middle class community and general ‘nice’ area has been bought by a private landlord and converted to bedsits and one bed flats for these ‘miscreant plebs!’ Oh dear what will that do to house prices in your leafy ‘respectable’ area. Oh I see you hadn’t thought of that had you?
Still don’t worry – these miscreant plebs will rise up and will appeal the HB decision to impose the bedroom tax as is their legal right and it is very much in your interest that they do too isn’t it? Perhaps you could write to the Daily Mail to advocate these miscreants do appeal? Or you could have a word with Algernon your local Tory councillor at the golf club to tell him to do the right thing and refuse to spend millions of pounds of local taxpayer’s money on this politically naive and bloody offensive and pernicious bedroom tax.
Yes I am directly addressing you too. Yes you who tell all your friends and acquaintances you live in “West Derby” and not in Club moor or Croxteth or Norris Green, those perceived less salubrious areas which borders the much nicer West Derby perception. Yes you are all over the country aren’t you?
Even the rabid right-wing Taxpayers Alliance should be behind advocating the local council should not waste local public money on defending the bedroom tax imposition.
Even Migration Watch should be behind this too as heaven forfend you will have non-white faces in your nice leafy middle-class suburban idyll as all social housing goes to Johnny Foreigner doesn’t it they say.
Even Nigel Farage and UKIP should be advocating local councils should not defend the HB appeal on cost grounds else you will have the entire population of Romania and Bulgaria crammed into converted bedsits in your nice suburban idyll.
Yes, if I may be so bold as to give you your full name Mrs Hyacinth Bouquet, you didn’t realise your beloved Tory government had taken away HMO controls and planning regulations that would have prevented Mr Rigsby from converting that nice 4 bed house 2 doors away for such residents. Yes you didn’t realise that Mr Rigsby would be able to claim far more in rent from your taxpayers money by having 3 x 1 bed flats in that nice 4 bed house 2 doors away did you?
You still want to believe that IDS knows what he is doing with this bedroom tax Mrs Bouquet?
So much easier too when you wrap it up nicely in an economic argument over taxpayer’s money than merely saying keep the miscreant plebs out of your suburban idyll at all costs isn’t it?