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.
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.
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
Your HB reference number
(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.
- A copy of the council’s written policy that includes a definition of a bedroom.
- Failing that a copy of the councils informal or working definition of what is a bedroom for under occupation / bedroom tax purposes.
- A copy of the council’s written policy which states precisely how the council makes a bedroom tax decision.
- A copy of any letter or other correspondence you sent to my landlord (insert landlord name) asking for information about my property.
- A copy of any correspondence you received back from my landlord in response to your request.
- 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.