Bedroom Tax – Some facts and figures & why women are growing a set!

BEDROOM TAX FACTS AND FIGURES – MERSEYSIDE

Note: This started out as a simple explanation of the bedroom tax facts and figures for the 5 councils in Merseyside.  That’s all there and then in local language I went off on one (I have a rant reader at the end although full of justification and validity I may add!)

The National Housing Federation, the umbrella lobby group for housing associations have broken down the estimated 660,000 bedroom tax households by parliamentary constituency. Yet MP borders or constituencies often overlap one or more local council areas

In local councils such as Sefton this can easily be aggregated by adding up the 3 parliamentary constituencies of Bootle (1343) and Southport (1232) and Sefton Central (1091) to arrive at a number of those affected in Sefton being 3666. The same for Wirral sees a simple sum of Birkenhead (1099) and Wallasey (1065) and Wirral South (834) and Wirral West (818) to arrive at a total of 3816.

Sefton and Wirral constituencies are wholly within and the same as the local council area.  Yet Liverpool and St Helens and Knowsley councils differ.

Liverpool City Council area includes Liverpool Riverside (2920) and Liverpool Walton (2473) and Liverpool Wavertree (2352) and Liverpool West Derby (2319).  Yet Garston and Halewood parliamentary constituency (2585) sees 5 wards in Liverpool and 3 wards in Knowsley Council area.  So the 2585 total figure I have split to represent those proportions to be 1616 in Liverpool and 969 in Knowsley.

Liverpool thus has 2920 + 2473 + 2352 + 2319 + 1616 – a total of 11680

Knowsley Council area then has Garston & Halewood (969) and Knowsley (2847) and 30% of St Helens South (2281) which is (684) as 3 of the 10 wards on St Helens South parliamentary constituency are in Knowsley (Whiston North, Whiston South and Prescot East).  So the Knowsley figure is 969 + 2847 + 684 – a total of 4500

St Helens Council includes 70% of the St Helens South (1597) plus all of St Helens North (2026) making the total of 3623.

These numbers are in the table below.

The next column entitled SRS HB is the number of Social Rented Sector (Council and HA) Housing Benefit claimants in the 5 Merseyside councils areas and these are taken directly for the official HB statistics produced by the DWP and found at Table 3 Cells E72 to E76. These are the latest official figures released in Februray 2013 by DWP.

The final column is a simple percentage of these two figures. Please note this is for all ages so that includes pensioners who are exempt from the bedroom tax.

The final column titled “W/A %” is an adapted one to show the likely working-age percentage of tenants affected using the national figure to exclude the 28% of all HB claimants who are pensioners.

In short the final right-most column is a best guess and nothing more.

Table 1 – Merseyside

BEDROOM TAX FIGURES – MERSEYSIDE

AREA

NUMBER

SRS HB

%

W/A %

KNOWSLEY

4500

14340

31.38%

43.58%

LIVERPOOL

11680

43460

26.88%

37.33%

ST HELENS

3623

13310

27.22%

37.81%

SEFTON

3666

14280

25.67%

35.66%

WIRRAL

3816

17030

22.41%

31.12%

AVERAGE

27285

102420

26.71%

37.00%

Notes:

As you can see Liverpool City Council has the highest number of bedroom tax tenant households affected at 11,680.  Yet Knowsley MBC has the highest percentage at 31.38% of all HB claimants affected.

NB – the figures are for households and the average UK household has 2.4 persons in it so the Liverpool figure of 11,680 tenant households equates to 28,032 men women and children affected directly by the bedroom tax.  Indirectly you can add on many more as that figure includes the ‘absent parent’ as it is called and usually the dad who after a relationship split lives alone but has his kids stay over on every other weekend so you can add those kids directly affected to the total; or if Grandma has to move then the grandchildren who often stay over while mum works or occasionally sleep there are also affected.

This means the 102,420 total Merseyside figure is 245,808 men, women and children or would directly alone fill Wembley 3 times over!  It is a staggering number and of that there is no doubt!

Comparisons?

Manchester City Council area which is one of ten local authorities that make up Greater Manchester (as Liverpool is one of 5 in Merseyside) is wrongly stated by its MPs and Councillors and others to be the worst affected in the country.  That claim is based on it having Manchester Central with 4160 as the largest affected council area in the country and a few men in the higher places.  Yet when you correctly look at the figures and Manchester City Council has MPs with part of their constituency in Manchester and in Trafford for example the actual figures for Manchester as a council show it has 13554 households affected and has 50,190 HB claimants making the percentage figure 27.01% so less than Knowsley at 31.38% and less than St.Helens which has 27.22%.

In fact Manchester City Council is not the highest even in Greater Manchester as that is Salford with 6846 affected and 21,870 HB claimants making Salford’s percentage 31.30 which is less than Knowsley too!

I had previously thought Salford was the worst affected and had the highest percentage in the country but Knowsley has a higher percentage of tenant households affected.

Please note: I have explained how difficult it is to find exact figures for each local council as their borders overlap parliamentary constituencies and I do not have the time to work out the exact figures for every local council.  It is quite possible that some small council in Wales will be the highest of some council in Scotland or even in Yorkshire or Hull.  Yet what we do KNOW is that Knowsley MBC has the highest percentage in Merseyside and this is higher than Salford and Manchester.

It is unlikely to be London as Figure 1 below is a table issued by the DWP and London only has 22% of working-age tenants affected by the bedroom tax yet the North West and Yorkshire each have 43% affected or DOUBLE the London percentage.  The highest percentage is Wales with 46% of working-age tenants affected.

Figure 1 – DWP Table

DWP bedroomtaxaffected by region

You can also see from the above why I said the worst council affected will probably be in Wales with 46% affected!

However no figures are available by ward or district level or at least not in the public domain.  Yet we do know for example that Norris Green in Liverpool has 80% of its former council properties (now owned and managed by Cobalt Housing Association part of Symphony Housing Group) being 3 bedroomed properties and plenty of anecdotal evidence suggests this is the worst hit ward in Liverpool.  I am also aware that certain wards in every council will be very badly hit and Norris Green in Liverpool is just one example.

There’s a Norris Green in every city so it could be Levenshulme in Manchester or certain areas of Bristol or Glasgow or Birmingham or Cardiff etc.  And I have not read anything on the macro impact of the bedroom tax – how it will affect a ward such as Norris Green in other words. The local shopping area in Broadway on the border of Norris Green and the local newsagent or corner shop in Norris Green itself will have a lot less custom and income because of the bedroom tax deductions.  Tenants there will be going to Farmfoods to buy 2 x 2 litres of milk for £1.60 so £80p each and not nip in to the local shop at 9pm to buy 1 x 2 litre of milk at £1.25 or £1.65 as money after the bedroom tax deduction is that severely restricted and constrained.  Local businesses will go under with the bedroom tax.

The Brighthouse’s of his world who allow a low-income tenant to buy a TV for £15 per week for 78 weeks (18 months) and charge unfortunately legal astronomical levels of interest may proliferate.  As will loan sharks and the illegal doorstep lenders as will Wonga and all the other allegedly legal loan sharks.  This is a tiny percentage of what Norris Green and all the other Norris Greens called by other names will see happen.  An absolutely devastating effect and impact in the local communities and neighbourhoods – and that is just the bedroom tax alone.  Throw in first time payments of what was Council Tax and a 1% rise in welfare benefits while electricity and gas prices rise by 9% and other expenditure costs increase (Are food prices still going to rocket in the Summer as predicted a few months back anyone?) and you begin to see.

The impact is NOT just the cumulative impact of the bedroom tax, overall benefit, direct payments, monthly payments and Universal Credit and 1% welfare benefit rises; it is the cost of a loaf or milk and the way above inflation costs of electricity and gas and bus fares and all other usual or typical expenditure costs everyone faces.  Anecdotally again reader I saw a tweet yesterday which said a boy took his sister to school so they could be fed and found it closed!  That is the reality of the austerity in this country BEFORE the bedroom tax et al hits – God help us!

The Norris Green’s of this country are going to see devastating consequences that threaten the very fabric of the communities there.  I also know and can produce figures which correlate significant rises in domestic violence and abuse when money is tight just as I am sure criminal justice professionals can correlate race hate crimes with the same – How many unprovoked attacks will there be on Polish plumbers, Polish shops and the 350 million Romanians and Bulgarians the Daily Mail and UKIP say will all enter the UK in the next year and they bombard the public with as the reason why we are in these ‘austere times?’

[Yes I do realise the entire population of Romania and Bulgaria is only £22m and 7.47m respectively – I’m just using UKIP and Daily Mail figures reader!]

That is what the coalition culture of blaming scroungers and shirkers asleep or watching Jeremy Kyle behind closed curtains sets in motion (ever thought keeping the heat in or just not wanting others to see through the window at what that family hasn’t got could be the reason?)  and which UKIP et all use as excuse for thinly disguised fascism and racism.  How long before we see signs saying “No Poles or Romanians” that are just today’s version of “No Blacks and No Irish” from the 1950’s and 1960s?

Throw that DV and race element into communities such as Norris Green and assuming anything called community is apt in any definition, as increasingly more and more adopt the Thatcherite I’m alright Jack beggar they neighbour approach, and imagine the scenario, that very real eventuality!  Though that won’t happen in the vast majority of Norris Green which is strong as hell in community terms and is used to fighting for basic dignity let alone the bedroom tax which can see a social tenant left with 20% or more BELOW the minimum subsistence level if income on which to survive each week.  Will there be an increase in the grey economy of people working cash in hand? Course there will as taking in a lodger sees such tenants lose 86 pence in every £1 after the first £20 per week.  Yes on the day millionaires get a massive tax cut it is ok to tax the social tenant at more than twice this at 86%!

Then again working ‘legit’ these days is increasingly on zero hours contracts in any case and if the employer wants to call a 12 month contract an apprenticeship for a 50 year-old the national minimum wage of £2.65 per hour (yes look it up!) is hardly an incentive is it?

And by the way why is the bedroom tax retrospective when LHA Labour introduced in 2008 was not?  Think you’d got away with that one IDS!

I’m just as sure the community spirit and fight of Norris Green will be the same in Glasgow and Manchester and Birmingham and even in the South too and all those other places like Norris Green but with a different name.

I raise Norris Green as I know the area and know many who live and work in the area and many others (who I will not mention to preserve their anonymity) have told me in separate conversations and at separate times that many tenants there have simply abandoned their homes for fear of the 25% bedroom tax cut.

Are these the parents who are 45 to 61 years of age who have brought up their children there and they have flown the coop – the archetypal 25% bedroom tax tenant who have lived in the “family home” – it’s not just a mere rented house! – for a generation.  The area, Norris Green, that was once called “dead man’s shoes” in housing jargon meaning that until say 1980 you couldn’t be allocated a house there for love nor money and only if somebody dies would you get a house there.

Yes the same area that through the late 1980s right up to a year ago you would be given a 3 bed house if you had a 2 bed need as formal council policy because they were difficult-to-let or DTLs.

Yes, DTLs, just like the 566 of 14000 properties that Knowsley Housing Trust (KHT) reclassified from 3 beds to 2 beds a few weeks back: these were DTLs I have discovered!!  This 4% of the housing stock reclassified and they were DTLs means 96% disgruntled tenants whose properties haven’t been reclassified!

In marketing and PR terms that’s called shooting yourself in the foot and unsurprisingly it didn’t stop the housing association KHT trying to claim brownie points for in their infinite incompetence!

Of course the real brownie points will go to Joe Anderson the Mayor of Liverpool who if he has any sense, or in local jargon grows a set, he will decide that when up to 11680 social tenants in Liverpool formally appeal the bedroom tax decision, he will stand up as even a Tory council leader would stand up and say this city is not making a further £18m of cuts to pay to defend the HB appeals which take £20m out of the local economy and send local businesses crashing and sees Norris Green and other places become ghetto’s of poverty.  That is why I wrote an open letter to him and all other council leaders as that simple idea and simple decision is entirely at his disposal.  If he and any other council leader don’t have the sense or the balls to take that decision the people of Liverpool will see he is acting in his own interests and not in the people of Liverpool’s interest.  If he does he WILL get re-elected and it’s a massive political and electoral coup and far better than any bullshit no-evictions policy as other self-serving and publicity seeking council leaders have advocated recently (PS it’s not in your powers even if you are a council landlord you effing numpties!) or bricking up doors or tearing down walls as Frank Field has advocated!  I kid you not! (Sorry a Theresa May moment there!)

And growing a set will also stop these deeply offensive abandonments in the likes of Norris Green that I know Joe Anderson and the City Council already know about too.

The social tenant if they do take up their legal right to appeal really do have the power to bring the bedroom tax to its knees and for Christ sake don’t abandon your property or your hope!  But not because this is direct action or some boost to your ego or self-esteem or just having your say.  But because you are appealing to keep the minimum level of income the government says you need to live on and that’s not enough in the first bloody place!

Yes the social tenant needs to grow a set too!  Though of course its women leading this fight not the men because it’s the women who know how to and can and do control the house finances and always has been.  The same women who ordinarily thinks and was brought up to think I’m not a troublemaker who upsets the applecart and if the government or any other authority figure says its fair then it must be!

This bedroom tax is the first of many fights this year alone to ensure you have enough food on the table and can keep a bloody roof over your head; its bugger all to do with being a troublemaker and challenging authority, it’s a fight to bloody well survive!

Next year Liverpool won’t have the central government bung (after taking away 10% of funding in the first place of course) to keep council tax replacement subsidy – or whatever the bloody hell it’s called – at 8.5% while neighbouring Sefton charge 20% – Yes that’s neighbouring Sefton Council who sent out deficient HB bedroom tax notices that ever so conveniently didn’t state the 3,666 tenants hit be the bedroom tax have a right of appeal!

Those who do grow a set will not abandon their home or this fight and you do have the power to do it. Sheila wouldn’t do that or would Patricia her twin sister who lives next door in an identical house in Norris Green and gets exactly DOUBLE the housing benefit each week of Sheila the social tenant because Patricia is a private tenant  Yes they were Liverpool figures you will recall reader!

Of course this abandonment figure I raise above may be anecdotal but it is deeply disturbing and may be happening elsewhere across the country too.  I also don’t and I repeat DONT want to seem alarmist here yet when so many reliable sources and people I know have knowledge of these issues and don’t have any other agendas at play, tell me the same, it genuinely is time to worry and raise the issue – and Liverpool City Council ARE aware of this purported anecdotal evidence too of a significant increase in abandonments in Norris Green!

I am sure no social landlord will release figures of the number or percentages of tenant abandonments.  If Landlord A makes public that say 5% of tenants have abandoned then they know many more will say there’s no smoke without fire or something similar and suddenly that 5% figure becomes 8% or even 10%!  Also note that social landlord could never have such accurate figures in any case as tenants who abandon don’t tend to leave a forwarding address or complete an exit satisfaction survey to say why they abandoned!! 

Yet all social landlords will have a bloody good idea of how many have abandoned and how such numbers compare with other years so if the abandonment figure that is say 0.5% suddenly goes to 1.5% it is a 3-fold increase and significant and there will be a correlation there.

[Note – if professionals in any part of the country want to send me their anecdotal evidence of tenant abandonments in the strictest confidence you know where I am]

It should come as no surprise that Knowsley has what seems to be the highest percentage figure in the country for bedroom tax purposes as for many years it has regularly been at the top of many of the indices of local deprivation (ILD) figures for poverty and other similar ‘measures.’

**********

PS No I don’t live in Norris Green before you ask: But I know many genuine people with humanity and dignity and genuineness that do, just as we all do!

No I have absolutely no intentions of running for political office whatsoever or any other agenda you cynical bar steward of a reader! And yes I am stone cold sober too! I have no other agenda than I have a shred of humanity and don’t want to see the easy target that the social tenant is getting shafted; and whether that be having a go at this excuse for a government or for Liverpool City Council for sending out Poll Tax demands this week from 1990/91 as a fait accompli!

Yes Mr Elected Labour Party Mayor, why is YOUR Council sending out letters saying: – Our records show you owe £700 in Community Charge from 1990/91 so pay up or we will send in the bailiffs to a disabled tenant who was on full benefits in that year and frightening her to bloody death!! 

[Yes I can prove it too and that issue deserves a blog all of its own for my 1m per annum readers. No that’s not my conceit or arrogance; it merely proves I can fool most of the people most of the time like any political figure believes they can!!]

Do you think Liverpool women will not say show us the bloody evidence and appeal these vile threats you make and not take your a fait accompli judge jury and bloody executioner stance as read?  No they will appeal just as they will appeal the bedroom tax and back you down the cul-de-sac of my open letter which is grow a set or get voted out.  So are you one of the few men with balls in this city or are you just a self-serving opportunist who is complicit in this blame game culture of the Bullingdon Boys?

Rant (with huge amounts of validity and fact and the odd bit of passion) over!

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4 thoughts on “Bedroom Tax – Some facts and figures & why women are growing a set!

  1. joe, i have received my letter from WMBC, in resonse to my request for more info, i have scanned it and sent it to you via email

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