Bedroom Tax council naughty step – Bradford

Yet another response has been received from another council about how they arrived at the bedroom tax decision which I maintain is unlawful and ripe for many grounds of appeal.  In response to a request for more information here is the response from Bradford which becomes the latest council to be placed on the Naughty Step after Bury, Wiltshire and Wirral and this is going to turn into a series embarrassing councils who are and have been acting unlawfully or wrongly in making the bedroom tax decisions.  Bradford makes 4 out of 4 so far. Soon enough every tenant reader will be able to see how to formulate their own appeal as each and every council makes similar mistakes in HOW they decided the bedroom tax decision.

Bradford

Thank you for your enquiry of 09/04/2013, the contents of which have been noted. 

Ok a stock opening of no consequence.

The Benefits Service has recently implemented changes as set out by the Government in the Welfare Reform Act 2012. One of the changes is that from 01/04/2013 new Social Sector Size Criteria restrictions have been applied to claims for people who are living in Housing Association accommodation, such as yourself.

Yet further information that is irrelevant.

We begin!

This is to ensure that there is a fairness throughout the board for Housing Benefit claimants, in that Housing Association tenants are dealt with in the same way as those renting from private Landlords. In the past, Housing Association tenant’s claims were assessed based on the full rental charge, regardless of whether the household was over-accommodated or under occupied.

Here we go.  IF the social tenant is treated the same as the private tenant then the HB officer would surely have referred each bedroom tax case to the Rent Officer service but they did not.  Hence the same two appeal grounds I outlined in the Wiltshire case also apply here. APPEAL and APPEAL

The Department for Work and Pensions have supplied no definition of a bedroom, and there is no minimum bedroom size set out in regulations. It is the responsibility of the Landlord to accurately describe the property in line with the actual rent charged (as rents ultimately differ based on the number of bedrooms within the property).

The question asked for your definition Bradford either a formal definition or a working one and the question was not ambiguous in any way.  Please answer the question which here you have not. Also rents do not always differ on the number of bedrooms and this is a generalisation. ASK BRADFORD TO ANSWER THE QUESTION

I can confirm that the Benefits Service has recently contacted all Housing Associations to ask them to confirm the number of bedrooms that each of their properties has. I am unable to provide a copy of the reply from your Landlord as this includes details of other properties.

NO!!  Bradford is overtly failing to answer the unambiguous and reasonable question it was asked. 

This was provide a copy of the request that you asked all landlord for (which has been totally ignored here) and then a copy of what you received back from my landlord which Bradford has incredulously failed to give. 

Can Bradford or any council not simply give a copy of what they sent and what they received back without revealing other tenants details?  Of course they can.  What does Bradford have to hide here you may correctly ask!  ASK AGAIN FOR THIS INFORMATION AND IF NOT GIVEN THEN APPEAL ON THESE TWO ISSUES

I would urge you to refer back to your original Tenancy Agreement which should confirm that *my address* has two bedrooms. Although we do not hold a copy of your original Tenancy Agreement on file, having looked back on the application forms submit by yourself since your claim started, you have confirmed that your property contains two bedrooms, which has again also been confirmed by your Landlord. It would be your Landlord’s responsibility to re-classify the number of bedrooms.

NO! NO! NO!  Bradford is what is colloquially known as taking the p*ss here!

Bradford has simply assumed that if the tenancy agreement says a property has 3 bedrooms then it has and this is a fettering of their discretion to check on an individual basis that each claimant has two bedrooms or not.  APPEAL

It is also disgracefully saying you the tenant said it has two bedrooms so therefore it has two bedrooms.  A council is not the law here and they have made a wild assumption without checking which they need to do – APPEAL

A landlord reclassification is an entirely separate issue and nothing at all to do with a benefit claim which is ONLY between the claimant (ie the tenant) and the decision maker (the council) – The landlord has got nothing to do with this decision regardless of how it has been involved.  The council is steering the tenant away from appealing –

From 01/04/2013 your Housing Benefit has been recalculated at £XX.XX per week, then £XX.XX per week from 08/04/2013, as this includes a 14% reduction due to you having one extra bedroom over your requirements. Should you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact my office on the number below.

You know what I think 4983 bedroom tax affected tenants in Bradford East, Bradford South, Bradford West, Keighley and Shipley ma just want to ask their Council in Bradford a few more questions don’t you reader?  Perhaps they should ask one of their MPs, a certain George Galloway to help them appeal the bedroom tax decision? They kindly provided their address too.

Revenues & Benefits Service, Britannia House.Hall Ings, Bradford  BD1 1HX

ALSO – What has Bradford failed to respond to? Yes that’s right reader the standard letter asks all councils to inform you when your appeal has to be submitted by and yet again we See Bradford here (like Bury & Wiltshire before it) failing to say when this is!

Given the incredulity of Bradford (a) not even responding on what they asked social landlords for, and (b) even more incredulously saying they cannot give the tenant what the landlord said about the property; and then (c) steering the tenant away from appeal by referring them to their landlord who is not party to the decision that Bradford took, then the apparently simple omission of not informing the tenant when any appeal has to be submitted by takes on a whole new look doesn’t it reader?

Don’t tell me I am correct in stating as I did here that Councils are attempting to dissuade vulnerable tenants from appealing as they have a vested interest as it may cost them about £1500 for each tenant that does appeal?  In Bradford’s case that’s £1500 x 4,983 and a possible £7.47 million!

The six simple questions in the standard letter are below to remind you again:

STANDARD LETTER – asking for more information

Date

HB Address

Your HB reference number

Dear Sirs,

(insert your name, address and postcode here)

Please provide the following information in writing so that I can submit a formal HB appeal within the given time.  Please advise when that date is by return.

  1. A copy of the council’s written policy that includes a definition of a bedroom.
  2. Failing that a copy of the councils informal or working definition of what is a bedroom for under occupation / bedroom tax purposes.
  3. A copy of the council’s written policy which states precisely how the council makes a bedroom tax decision.
  4. A copy of any letter or other correspondence you sent to my landlord (insert landlord name) asking for information about my property.
  5. A copy of any correspondence you received back from my landlord in response to your request.
  6. Does the council’s policy in making a bedroom tax decision differ from the guidance given by central government in the A4/2012 HB circular and/or the SI 3040 of 2012.

Yours faithfully

Etc

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Bedroom Tax council naughty step – Bradford

  1. Its interesting just how far they are going to not answer all the questions in full (especially the latest date to appeal, seems like its nothing more than a delaying tactic and as a lot of the letters were deficient with the date it will be interesting if they try to claim out of time because of the invalid date) and also to divert attention onto the social landlord when its nothing to do with them bar supplying a figure.

    1. Its absolutely bugger all to do with the social landlord period as the Americans say. Section 20 of the A4/2012 – yes the same one all councils say they are adhering to -says “There is no obligation on landlords to reply to a request for information.”

      So surprising so few have read this and realise it

  2. Breckland are dealing with my request for info on how they assessed my HB entitlement (I used your template Joe, thank you for all you are doing!) as a FOI request, with the possibility that I will be charged for this.

    (No mention of any appeals process! And surely, should have been referred to the HBO?)

    “Freedom of Information Act 2000 – Information Request – bedroom tax definition and correspondence between landlord and the Council

    I acknowledge your request for information received on 5th April, 2013.

    Your request is being considered and you will receive the information requested within the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Freedom of Information Act 2000, subject to the information not being exempt or containing a reference to a third party.

    If appropriate, the information may be provided in paper copy, normal font size. If you require alternative formats, e.g. language, audio, large print, etc. then please let me know.

    For your information, the Act defines a number of exemptions which may prevent release of the information you have requested. There will be an assessment and if any of the exemption categories apply then the information will not be released. You will be informed if this is the case, including your rights of appeal.

    If the information you request contains reference to a third party then they may be consulted prior to a decision being taken on whether or not to release the information to you. You will be informed if this is the case.

    There may a fee payable for this information. This will be considered and you will be informed if a fee is payable. In this event the fee must be paid before the information is processed and released. The 20 working day time limit for responses is suspended until receipt of the payment.

    If you have any queries or concerns then please contact the Freedom of Information Officer at Breckland Council, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham, Norfolk, NR19 1EE, telephone 01362 656870, e-mail freedomofinformation@breckland.gov.)

  3. I want to say that I am asking for info using the FOI Act about the guidelines etc but also for amount of people affected how many one bedroom places etc, how many are on the waiting list for these properties as they have this info aswell bjut while I am waiting for this info I am wasting no time and I am putting a request for decision to be looked at again and appeal against the decision for both BT and CT benefits using the dispute form from govan legal centre. I am studying law and find it hard to fight for myself but I have got to fight as we all know what is happening is illegal and I can not just role over and let it happen as it would do my mental health harm when I am doing so good at recovery for this.

  4. Joe, after speaking to you on tuesday evening, i have now handed my letter into the one stop shop today, i used all of the one you emailed me, and added a section requesting them to advice me, how they came to the decision that i am not an approved foster parent as the rules were changed on the 13th April.they scanned it, and gave me the original 3 page letter back, which they stamped.

  5. Yesterday, I received from my council….Brighton and Hove…. A reply to my application for a DHP…. Refused of course…despite the fact I’m disabled, bipolar. 95% bed bound. House adapted…..Bare in mind that I have sent the first letter asking for information….They have decided to say this in the SAME letter as my DHP refusal……

    The council would only refer a HA rent to the Rent Officer, under the Housing Benefit Regs- HB (12B) (6) if the council considered the rent to be significantly high for the size and type of property. Even if the rent was referred and the Rent Officer decided the weekly rent should be reduced. The 25% reduction would still be applied.

    The council decided you lived in a 3 bedroom property, as your Landlord informed the council that your property consisted of 3 bedrooms, and you have always declared having 3 bedrooms on your claim forms.

    So, not even a separate letter to say that!!

    So, I guess I’ll be writing the again!!

Please leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s