Cornwall Council acts unlawfully and disgracefully in bedroom tax matters

Cornwall Council has made every single bedroom tax decision in error and is now telling tenants they have no right to appeal these unlawful bedroom tax decisions.

If you are a social tenant in Cornwall lodge a formal appeal and I strongly suggest you will be successful because of Cornwall’s approach and admission by their own hand that they have made unlawful decisions.

The NHF figures suggest there are 2974 bedroom tax affected social tenants in Cornwall Council area and the cost to the Council of having to go back and do these bedroom tax decisions again properly will cost Cornwall Council millions.

What Cornwall council has said with regard to the bedroom tax decision is:

The decision made by the Council on your benefit is a non appealable decision.

This is an error in law and every bedroom tax tenant has an absolute right to appeal.

What Cornwall Council also say is:

The amount of bedrooms in the property is DECIDED BY your landlord and you will need to contact them in regards to this matter.

The number of bedrooms a property has for the purposes of applying the bedroom tax is the decision of YOUR COUNCIL NOT YOUR LANDLORD.  Even if the Council merely decides to accept the landlords word, the Council has MADE THE DECISION to accept the landlords word.  The fact that Cornwall Council has done this is an unlawful decision as it proves they have not followed the guidance on making the bedroom tax decision.

Secondly, any dispute or challenge on the bedroom tax decision is a matter for the two parties involved – the Council a decision-maker and the tenant as the benefit claimant.  It has absolutely bugger all to do with the landlord. Cornwall Council here are knowingly giving wrong advice to the tenant so they will not appeal and cost the Council money.

Finally, this is a clear case of maladministration by Cornwall Council and so a complaint can and should be made direct to the Ombudsman on these issues.  Additionally all social tenants in Cornwall should also complain to their Council and to their MPs over this disgraceful and unlawful conduct of the Council.

The offending and unlawful response from Cornwall Council is below.

cornwall no appeal right

UPDATE

It would appear that Cornwall Council has retracted its errant nonsense over the bedroom tax being a “non appealable” decision as the comment below says.  

Unfortunately, there was an error in a small number of the letters that have been sent out. The letter should not have said that ‘the decision made by the Council on your benefit is a non appealable decision’.

I could take Cornwall Council to task at the incredulity of saying this was a mistake in a small number of letters and re-read the letter in context above and you will see what I mean.  However, more importantly we see that Cornwall Council have still got the rest of this wrong.  They say: –

With reference to who makes the decision on the number of bedrooms in a property, the Council requested this information from social sector landlords leading up to the changes. While it is the Council’s decision how many bedrooms an applicant and their family need and how many bedrooms they have, this decision is based on the information provided by the landlord. Initial queries or disputes over the number of bedrooms in the property should be taken up with the landlord; however, any queries over the number of rooms used in the calculation of housing benefit can still be addressed through the Council’s Assessment Team.”

This is further errant nonsense and any dispute over the number of bedrooms is a decision between the Council and the tenant and is NOT – for the purposes of the bedroom tax decision or any appeal to it – between the landlord and tenant.

The Council is the decision-maker and acts in HB as the agent of the DWP and central government.  Any benefit appeal matter is wholly between the decision-maker (the council) and the claimant, ie the tenant.  Any dispute or appeal matter on what is a bedroom or how many bedrooms a property has – FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE BENEFIT DECISION – is a matter between the council and the tenant.  

The social landlord is a third-party and has absolutely BUGGER ALL to do with this.

The Council are confusing two very different issues.  If there is a dispute between landlord and tenant over how many bedrooms a property has then for ALL OTHER PURPOSES this IS a matter of dispute between landlord and tenant.  And it would have bugger all to do with the Council.  

However, because the Council in the bedroom tax decision-making process simply believed the landlords view on how many bedrooms there are AS PART OF THEIR BEDROOM TAX DECISION-MAKING PROCESS then the issue of dispute and indeed appeal is between the claimant (the tenant) and the decision-maker (the Council) and nobody else is involved

The matter of ‘dispute’ is NOT the number of bedrooms per se, the matter of dispute is HOW the Council decided how many bedrooms and what a bedroom constitutes or is.

It is incumbent on the Council as the agent of government to find the FACT of the matter and NOT simply believe a third-party and especially when the third-party involved, the landlord, has a conflict of interest.  The landlords believe that is a property was a 2 bed and not a 3 bed then they will lose out financially – this is a clear conflict of interest.  

So when the issue of how a bedroom was decided upon for the purposes of the bedroom tax decision no Council can say this is a dispute between landlord and tenant.  That in fact is a mere deflection from the Council aimed at seeing the tenant not appeal as the errant process they suggest the tenant claimant take will see any appeal be out of time.  It is also outrageous in that context and can be sued to substantiate many appeal grounds a tenant may have and not least the competence of the Council!!

As I also commented in another post today the same HB officers at the Council have to decide if a child is severely disabled enough.  Will these HB officers then tell the parents of a disabled child if they refuse that they should go take this up with a GP or consultant?  The tenant claimant will be contesting the HBOs view of how they decided on the severity of the disability just as now the tenant claimants are contesting how the HBOs at Cornwall Council came to a determination and decision on what is a bedroom and how many bedrooms a property has!

This errant nonsense from Cornwall is being stated by other Councils too yet that is what it is  – pure unadulterated errant nonsense – and all done to dissuade the tenant from appealing the bedroom tax decision.  How each Council comes to a decision on the number of bedrooms for the purposes of the bedroom tax decision is an appealable decision matter between Council and tenant and does NOT involve the landlord (Yes the same landlord who was not obligate to provide any information to the Council at all! Please read paragraph 20 of the A4 of 2012 which say this!)

Don’t swallow this bull!

Cornwall you are still very much playing at games and deserving of this publicity I am sure you do not want!

 

 

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9 thoughts on “Cornwall Council acts unlawfully and disgracefully in bedroom tax matters

  1. i dont think this is right, i dont think the council made the decision, it was made in Whitehall and because3 the local rent officer has had no say in the decision, it is not appealable, that is why it is so sneaky

  2. I can’t even get a reply from my council – despite 3 letters and 3 emails – since 26 March! They must be consulting their lawyers, so they don’t end up on here! Can’t wait to see if they’re as incompetent as Cornwall Council!

  3. Cornwall Council’s response to putting this on their FB Page.

    “Dear Michelle, Unfortunately, there was an error in a small number of the letters that have been sent out. The letter should not have said that ‘the decision made by the Council on your benefit is a non appealable decision’. This is not the case and the Council apologises for any confusion. The decision can be appealed and we actively encourage claimants to appeal if they feel a decision is wrong.

    With reference to who makes the decision on the number of bedrooms in a property, the Council requested this information from social sector landlords leading up to the changes. While it is the Council’s decision how many bedrooms an applicant and their family need and how many bedrooms they have, this decision is based on the information provided by the landlord. Initial queries or disputes over the number of bedrooms in the property should be taken up with the landlord; however, any queries over the number of rooms used in the calculation of housing benefit can still be addressed through the Council’s Assessment Team.”

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