UPDATE 10 August 2013 – A post those opposed to the bedroom tax will enjoy!
Back in June I reported that Welwyn Hatfield Council, a Tory Council no less, were going to classify any room of less than 50 square feet as NOT being a bedroom. As you can see below in an update to the original post that is precisely what they have done.
So to all the rest of the spineless councils up and down the country hang your heads in shame and get your bloody fingers out!!
The original post
The 1985 Housing Act section 326 (c) reads: –
No account shall be taken for the purposes of either Table of a room having a floor area of less than 50 square feet.
To put into ordinary everyday language a room can NOT be a bedroom if it has a floor area of less than 50 square feet.
Now see below a report from the Welywn & Hatfield Times which is a lot more interesting that it first appears.
- Here we see a Conservative dominated council (34 out of 48 seats) coming out against the bedroom tax – very significant.
- Secondly, this is the parliamentary constituency of Grant Shapps MP (aka Sebastian Fox and Michael Green) the former Housing Minister and now Chairman of the Conservative Party – very significant indeed!!
- Thirdly, Welwyn Hatfield has the highest percentage of social housing in the country in terms of Housing Benefit claimants with some 87% of HB claimant sin social housing compared to the national average of 67%. If the bedroom tax downsizing agenda can’t work there it can’t work anywhere!
A reclassification set to be discussed today (Thursday) could see officials try to circumvent controversial benefit reforms. Roughly 100 three bedroom houses look set to be classed as two bedroom homes, as one of the rooms is less than 50 square feet. Under plans being weighed up, the third bedroom would be classed as a box room – meaning tenants will not be hit in the pocket.
A government shake-up means benefit claimants now receive lower payments if they have a spare room in their council or housing association-owned home. More than 800 households have been affected in Welwyn Hatfield. Several other four-bed homes will be relabelled as three bedroom properties.
Conservative councillor Roger Trigg, executive member for housing, said:
“We think some 50 square feet is small enough to not be a bedroom, it might be enough for a little computer study. “I think it is unfair to the tenants when it is that small to call it a full size bedroom when it comes to the bedroom tax – if I am allowed to call it that, the spare room subsidy.”
Condemnation of the Conservative-led cuts united leaders of the opposition parties, with both the Lib Dems and Labour anticipating the changes. Labour group leader Kieran Thorpe said:
“The bedroom tax is bad enough without being classed as a box room. “It is wrong to punish people for having an empty cupboard and it shows the amount of extra work that this council is having to do in dealing with this unfair piece of legislation.”
Lib Dem group leader Tony Skottowe said:
“This was almost inevitable given the legislation. “When you look at the legislation, there is going to be some impact, and some of the legislation is frankly daft – some of it is really quite silly.”
This really is significant if the true blue Tory councils come out against it. Yes part of me wants to forgive the Tory councillors for trying to get some PR on this when the law has stated for 28 years that anything under 50 square feet cannot be called a bedroom, but hey this would appear to be the beginning of the end for the bedroom tax…as even Tories label this pernicious policy!!
- Tory Councils more tenant friendly than Labour run ones anyone? What a turn up for the books this and incredibly significant even if Welwyn & Hatfield don’t vote this through (which they may have already done as I write!)
- Now is the time for everyone opposed to the bedroom tax policy to start lobbying Labour Councils to not only match this under 50 square feet decision but to go one better and declare that any room between 50 and 70 square feet is in effect half a bedroom as the same 1985 Housing Act states.
- It is also the time to start lobbying every single social landlord to agree to this as well and reclassify all their properties accordingly. As I outlined yesterday and again today this is in social landlords financial interests to do so
UPDATE – 10 August 2013
And here is the minutes and the council decision:
9 July 2013
The Panel had received a report providing monitoring information on the
performance of the Welwyn Hatfield Community Housing Trust which also
detailed measures taken by the Trust to reduce the possible negative impacts
of the recent Government welfare reform (Minute 7).
The Panel recommended that Council homes with one bedroom which was
less than 50 square feet (4.65 square metres) be reclassified so that a room of
this size or smaller was not classed as a bedroom for welfare reform purposes.
That the Panel’s recommendation be approved and Council homes with
one bedroom which was less than 50 square feet (4.65 square metres)
be reclassified so that a room of this size or smaller was not classed as
a bedroom under the Government’s welfare reform.
So how many councils have previously said – oh no we cant do this! We are not allowed to do this! That is a false reading of statutory interpretation and we cant do, blah, blah, blah, blah!
So now you know reader they were excuses all along