The bedroom tax smoking gun!

I have always maintained every single one of the 660,000 bedroom tax decisions were unreliable and should be appealed against on procedural grounds, or in short, HOW the decision was taken.

I may well have just found the smoking gun which proves my point and procedural grounds does apply to all 660,000 decisions made on the bedroom tax

It is a letter of response to a bedroom tax affected tenant from Pembrokeshire County Council (below) which like all Councils we have seen to date, made the decision on what a bedroom is by asking the landlord for information as all councils were advised to do.  Yet now – and this is the smoking gun – AFTER making the bedroom tax decision they Council is asking tenants to measure their rooms to assess if they are a bedroom or not.

All 660,000 bedroom tax decisions to my knowledge have NOT seen any Council ask landlords for the size of alleged bedrooms – they have simply accepted the landlords view or opinion that they are indeed ‘bedrooms.’  Yet now and ONLY after a tenant queries the size are they looking into whether a bedroom is in fact a bedroom or not!

The Councils can only apply the bedroom tax deductions on a bedroom and not on any alleged spare ‘room’ and so for any bedroom tax decision to be reasonable or valid or reliable and not be thrown out of court, each and every Council must reasonably KNOW what a bedroom is and how many bedrooms each property has.

Yet ONLY considering room size AFTER THE FACT means that all original decisions have to be unreliable for the purpose of applying the bedroom tax deduction.

Councils in housing benefit decisions act as agents of the DWP who make most welfare benefit decisions.  The DWP does not award JSA or DLA based on assumption they only make benefit decisions based on fact.  If any benefit decision is made based on assumption it is unreasonable and unreliable and deserves to be struck out at court or tribunal.

Put this another way, how can the same council decide room size is not an issue in making the decision but then decide it is an issue should the claimant appeal against it?

Pembrokeshire Councils view comes a few days after Bristol City Council’s AFTER THE FACT decision to send out surveyors to measure room size IF a claimant (the tenant) appeals.  Again how can Bristol maintain it is ok not to include bedroom size in its original decision yet then decide it is a pertinent issue IF and only IF a tenant claimant appeals? 

Every Council across the country has not considered bedroom size in their original decisions and this comes from – as I have always stated – a fundamental misreading of paragraph 12 of the A4/2012 guidance that every Council says they have followed.

The Pembrokeshire Letter

pembroke letter

On a day when Inside Housing has run a scurrilous attack on me for advocating that all 660,000 tenant households have legitimate appeal grounds based on procedures and instead try to discredit me and the valid legitimate arguments of procedure of all tenants as a mere stunt or clogging up the system tactic, the temptation to say I told you and especially the CIH so is high.  

Yet, this issue is far more important and in fact Inside Housing journalist Carl Brown who wrote the article is in effect saying the bedroom tax appeal on such grounds in unworthy and less of an appeal than any other claimant appealing say s DLA or JSA benefit decision!  That is outrageous and downright offensive to all tenants.

Last week I proved the CIH view was wrong and factually incorrect and that too was based on their ASSUMPTION that all tenants do not have legitimate cause, as well as being a biased view on behalf of CIH members, the social landlords who have and always have had a conflict of interest in the bedroom tax decision making process. They want and need to classify and define their properties to have as many bedrooms as possible for rental income and for asset value and they have a vested interest and conflict in repeating the mantra that the 1985 Housing Act does not apply to the bedroom tax decision.  Yet here we have two councils AFTER THE FACT admitting that the 1985 Housing Act does apply.

Too little and too late for these Councils and for all others as their actions reveal that bedroom size is pertinent and needed to be considered as PART OF the decision-making process and not only if a tenant appeals. I fail to see how any tribunal or court can see this otherwise.

Get those appeal in people and before you finally draft them take a look at the excellent work Shelter has produced over the appeal process and procedure.  Shelter often produce very good work but in this case they have gone way above that.  Finally also look at the how and why of appeals I drafted last week which has links to Govan Law Centre bedroom tax toolkit and Carers UK’s work as well as references to the official tribunals How to appeal brochure.


19 thoughts on “The bedroom tax smoking gun!

  1. Thanks Joe,
    great work as usual, dont you just love it, “rubbing salt into the wounds” of the CIH.& the NHF, got my boxing gloves ready, i am going to fight this to the end

  2. Roger Phillips (Radio Merseyside) did a whole show 24th April (2 hour 29 mins) with an audience including housing officers, welfare rights, NHF, etc on the bedroom tax it was a very good listen,

    The recording of the show is here

  3. In Brighton I hear, the tape measures briefly rattle when officers from the housing department, not the HB one, come round. Then tenants are told “You do have a boxroom…. but unforunately you live in a 3 bedroom house” (Boxroom included,surprise, surprise.) Then it’s down to business with the usual nefarious, non-solutions – move,pay,lodger,job.

  4. In Brighton I hear, the tape measures briefly rattle when officers from the housing department, not the HB one, come round. Then tenants are told “You do have a boxroom…. but unforunately you live in a 3 bedroom house” (Boxroom included,surprise, surprise.) Then it’s down to business with the usual nefarious, non-solutions – move,pay,lodger,job.

  5. And the 1985 Housing Act also states living rooms can be treated as bedrooms so if we win an appeal stating the spare bedroom is a boxroom what is to stop the council classifying our living rooms as bedroom so we can’t win?

    1. they will be telling us we can sleep in the bathroom soon, just put a pillow & blankets in the bath, hey presto ready made bed.

    2. what is to stop councils is councils having to come out and visit every single property to check. In my home city of Liverpool I cant see the council coming to check 12,000 properties and especially now as Rent Officer service not available. If we be generous and say one officer can do 8 in a day or 176 per calendar month then 10 full time officers would take 7 months to do such visits. hell of a cost too!

  6. I must admit reading the letter above did make me chuckle a bit. talk about contradicting themselves. Do they really think their tenants are so stupid they would not see through it. Bedford council still have not advised me on what im meant to pay and I move out in next two wks and will make sure I note room sizes before I go. But thanks to the wonderful work by you and other groups I know that they can only charge me the 14% max and not the 25%, I originally feared. But also Your campaign has made me aware of the fact that this is unlawful in itself. I am actually part of campaign to seek justice for all the reforms and against the killers ATOS. Another person who has tirelessly worked to get together action and has now got lawyers willing to take it on as a group action. The BT is also part of this. If anyone is interested in this please search fb for Riche Farrar for more info. hope diont mind me saying that on this site, im sure you wont.

  7. I keep seeing the same few folks on this blog, presumably others are active elsewhere, or we all sink!! I’m barely computer literate and do not have any doings with facebook etc. I have prompted the few people I know that may be affected, seems does not apply to most of them, so I’m just hoping there are many others out there up for the fight, ‘cos I am !!
    Come on people, time for appeal is almost expired, my pre dated, late delivered decision forced me to appeal using Joe’s info two weeks ago.
    . Am now nearly a month ‘in arrears’ with my HA,same as everyone, about £38.00, so am expecting legal threats and crap next week or so, I already told them I’m not gonna pay it until I get an appeal decision, which they told me I cannot do, NO ? They going to evict a 60 yr old disabled person, good publicity ?
    We’ll see what happens, they know I’m awkward sorts, everyone else be too, otherwise get trampled on, your choice,
    I just heard some BOLLIX on the radio, IDS would be very happy if mega wealthy pensioners might give back their statutory benefits, fuel payments and the like, which they clearly should never have had .. …. announced on a Sunday morning, just before all those pious B******s go to church, lost in nonsense, I F’ing despair !?!??
    Me, Cynical ? Never, I love people, most of, makes ya think huh ?
    Whatever, stay happy and positive folks, no defeat without a scrap, give them some attitude, and sensible argument,this is a slimy turd of legislation that can be washed down the sewer of time with enough effort, needs washing away, by enough people, no problem if we work together.

  8. I belong to a Facebook group. Fighting the ‘Bedroom Tax’. With time running out. It is still VERY HARD getting people ‘on board’ to appeal.
    Heard last night, that Labour are saying they will scrap the BT if they get in power in 2015.
    Don’t know if it’s true….. but we all know why they are doing a U turn!!

  9. brianirving7, your spirit is inspiring. The thing to remember room size is only part of the rights against this. As Joe has said, how can you tax something that has no legal definition. Just appealing or making them look again causes them issues. at the end of the day we are the first lot affected so can as a whole do more than future tenants when their children leave home and face this problem. i also thnk many who enquire about appeal are excepting what they are told about no grounds for appeal. Ive even past on info to someone who has caused me alot of pain, just to help others fight. I will only be liable for 6wks when they finally tell me. but I will fight anyway and i shall offer them a pound a mth as they cannot evict me when i wont be here after the 13th. I have heard however some people have been adviced to pay £3.60 whilst appealing so as to reduce increasing debt. I am sure that they cannot evict whilst appeal process goes on a court cannot give the go ahead if the true facts are not available. I maybe wrong, but maybe Joe can clarify this. The way i see it to evict you before appeal decision could possibly open them up to lawsuit surely especially if appeal goes in your favour. And IDS what a twat, sorry but to be honest if someone has truely worked to have the capital they have and made contributions then I believe they do have a right to help. But i would hope that these people use it to help others. I read story about a DWP worker who defrauded £91,000 from 2010 by having the winter fuel payments paid into other accounts involving others, this was pensioners money. But off course its only those who receive benefits that do such things, at least thats what the gov want us to believe.

  10. Joe,
    do I send in my next letter in ASAP asking the council to review the decision they made (cut in housing benefit) as according to the 1st letter I received (just checked it again), and it states that I have 28 days from the 2nd April to write in explaining that I want to appeal and the reason why I am appealing, or do I wait until they reply back to my 2nd letter, which they received on the 11th April requesting further information. I just don’t know what to do for the best, I think deep down I am worried that WMBC will pull a fast one and not respond to my 2nd letter for wks and then tell me I have now passed the deadline to appeal, do I trust the word of the advisor I spoke to the other day at WMBC, who told me that I can still appeal, as it would be the fault of WMBC for not responding back within the time limit, I am so confused and uncertain, my brain is going fuzzy, as I have not even asked the council to review the decision yet, never mind appealing.

  11. How do you challenge this Government regarding its ancient draconian action? Of excessive rent increases to force people out of their homes by means of EXTORTION which is criminal offence.

    If someone knows about suing in the UK courts or European courts of human rights who could get a UK Law Firm or American which knows there shit in regards to big money suing in the millions, well there 600,000 of us and I could do with an early retirement pay cheque and a shark Law Firms could make many, many, millions from this ancient draconian government policy actions.

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