Lord Freud says the ‘disabled’ cant live in social housing

Dear Lord Freud,

It is better to let others thinks you are an idiot than to open ones mouth and confirm it!  

That is an expression I often heard my father say and the same principle applies to written communication and perhaps even more so.

In that regard I address you on what has become entitled your threatening letter to councils over re-designation of the number of bedrooms in a property in what is known as the ‘bedroom tax’ yet you choose to incorrectly term the ‘spare room subsidy’ despite any Housing Benefit deduction able to be levied only on a spare bedroom and not on a spare toilet for example which is also a room.

In your letter you state that if a property has had the number of bedrooms reduced by re-designation then the rent level must also fall and you state this even in relation to an adapted property: –

In principle my Department has no objections to re-designating properties where there is good cause to do so, for example where a property is significantly adapted to cater for a disabled persons needs.  However, we would expect the designation of a property to be consistent for both Housing Benefit and rent purposes. Blanket redesignations without a clear and justifiable reason, and without reductions in rent, are inappropriate and do not fall within the spirit of the policy.

My point is a simple one.  If a social landlord goes to the trouble and expense of installing a vertical lift or a wet room for a wheelchair user, or any other ‘good cause’ then please advise why they would EVER do this if the result is a reduction in rental income?

My subsequent and general point n your ‘threatening’ letter in which you say you ‘could’ or may consider sanctioning local authorities is if you say local councils are not acting withing the spirit of the policy then why not define what the spirit of the policy is?  Surely issuing guidance by way of a HB circular which is the accepted norm and most cost-efficient way of local councils interpreting what you meant by the policy would be easier than a vague letter with a purported  and inherent threat?

Why would anyone not conclude that paragraph 12 of the highly prescriptive A4/2012 guidance you did issue which states “We will not be defining what we mean by a bedroom in legislation..” has directly brought about the disquiet you feel by councils being free to intrepret what you did in fact mean that you steadfastly and categorically refused to define in the first place and state what you meant?

Is the even older adage that you reap what you sow more pertinent here?

The fact that you then issue a hollow threat to those you expect to read your mind is additional to the fact that what you now say in this hollow threat means landlords will no longer install disabled adaptations for their tenants.  Aside from the obvious legal challenges to this on the grounds of discrimination and inequality I also wonder just how much more this would cost the public purse as those who need disabled adaptations would only find them in purpose built and adapted care facilities which aside from creating a huge additional public purse cost would of course also mean that disabled persons become disempowered from independent living.

Perhaps that is the intention and imagine how many social housing properties that would free up!!

Yes, I think it is better to not open your mouth and confirm your incompetence and lack of any pre-thought and in general terms of threats in your letter in more common parlance its is either put up or shut up.  You wont state any definition of a bedroom or even what you mean by a bedroom and so you wont ‘put up’ which means your best option is to shut up – or indeed bring these threats on. Yet as these threats are idle and hollow and incredibly vague ones I don’t think anyone involved needs to take these seriously and – in common parlance – bring it on.

Yet you wont bring it on so that leaves you with one option.  Shut up!

________________________________________________________

Text of the letter.

Re-designation of properties and the removal of the Spare Room Subsidy

As you may be aware there have been a number of reported cases of local authorities re-designating their properties, without reducing the rent to reflect the loss of a bedroom. Such action could lead to incorrect Housing Benefit subsidy claims being submitted to my Department at the end of the financial year.

In principle my Department has no objections to re-designating properties where there is good cause to do so, for example where a property is significantly adapted to cater for a disabled persons needs.  However, we would expect the designation of a property to be consistent for both Housing Benefit and rent purposes.  Blanket redesignations without a clear and justifiable reason, and without reductions in rent, are inappropriate and do not fall within the spirit of the policy.

Between 2000 and 2010 expenditure had doubled in cash terms, reaching £21 billion. Unreformed, by 2014-15 Housing Benefit would cost over £25 billion. By removing the Spare Room Subsidy £500 million a year can be saved through greater efficiency and better use of social housing stock. It is therefore vital that local authorities adhere to their statutory responsibility to implement this policy on behalf of the Department.

I would like to stress that if it is shown properties are being re-designated inappropriately this will be viewed very seriously. If the Department has cause to believe this is the case we will commission an independent audit to ascertain whether correct and appropriate procedures have been followed. I wish to state clearly that these audits would be separate from the subsidy audits already undertaken, which carry out sample checks on the assessment of Housing Benefit.

Where it is found that a local authority has re-designated properties without reasonable grounds and without reducing rents, my Department would consider either restricting or not paying their Housing Benefit subsidy.

Lord Freud
Minister for Welfare Reform

 

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12 thoughts on “Lord Freud says the ‘disabled’ cant live in social housing

  1. I think the moron fraud honestly believes that all properties rents in social housing is set at consistent and across the board standardised values based on bedrooms and the fact that rents can vary by being higher for lesser bedrooms or even different rents for identical floor plans within a local area authority has not crossed his mind as no one told him and lets face it he’s probably never had to pay rent in his life, except by way of stipend from mata and pata when young. Besides which, just because the number of bedrooms has been reduced does not mean that the total usable floor space has been reduced so why should the rent not stay the same… after all some people pay through the nose depending on how many bathrooms a property has per number of bedrooms, seems the more rooms one has to bathe in while reducing the number of bedrooms the more expensive the property, go figure :-/

    1. Agree. I looked a few weeks ago at the online choice based lettings social housing portal for Liverpool (propertypool) and found a 1 bed flat at £62pw a 3 bed house at £82pw and another 1 bed flat at £144pw. Assumptive to believe that social housing property size correlates with number of bedrooms when you find a 1 bed flat 132% more expensive than another and 71% more expensive than a 3 bed house!! I just kept this post focused on the simple and obvious point that Freud’s idea means social landlords will not do adaptations any more because of his buffoonery and lack of thought and knowledge as well as the general point that this letter is an idle threat and a nonsensical one.

      Freud’s ignorance would also see a previously thought 3 bed becomes a 2 bed and boxroom yet rent is the same as a standard 2 bed property – I think next time I stay in a hotel I will demand a penthouse suite for the same price as a standard single room – after all they both 1 beds aren’t they!!

  2. What a moronic letter, starting with the missing apostrophe in “person’s” to the requirement of local councils to implement the policy on behalf of the department. Actually, what councils have to do is follow the law, not implement any mythical “spirit” of a policy.

    It would take two Lord Freuds to make a half-wit.

  3. Yes, bring it on!! As a Disabled person, I can’t quite believe what I’m reading!!
    What a VILE ‘human being’ he is!!
    It has to be against Article 25 of the Human rights Act.
    And a breach of the United Nations convention of the rights of a person with Disabilities.

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