Earlier this week I put up a post which was a standard letter doing the rounds to say if you have been in receipt of Housing Benefit continuously since before 1 January 1996 then you are exempt from the bedroom tax. The letter and its logic was very plausible.
Now I can report it to be entirely 100% factual and so if you have been receiving HB continuously since 1 Jan 1996 then YOU ARE EXEMPT FROM THE BEDROOM TAX!
Below is a picture of a letter sent out by Exeter City Council on 17 December 2013 which clearly says this and reverses the decision to impose the bedroom tax for the above reasons.
What this also means is that any bedroom tax decision which failed to consider this aspect was a flawed decision because the council failed to consider this HB regulation as it should have done. Every single bedroom tax decision made FAILED to consider this and so every single one of them is errant in law.
For those who have asked for a review or appealed to their council and the council will have received some standard and purportedly authoritative statement saying :
“Regulation A13 of the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 states that the local authority must determine a maximum rent (social sector) in accordance with Regulation B13 where it has not determined, and is not required to determine, a maximum rent in accordance with Regulation 13 or 13C”
Such a statement sounds really unwieldly and definitive when local councils put this to paper and the tenant thinks they must be right. BUT dear reader, never underestimate the incompetence of local government (and the DWP too!)
The bedroom tax regulations and especially the highly prescriptive guidance (A4/2012 HB circular) totally missed the regulation that states clearly that IF you have been in receipt of Housing Benefit since 1 Jan 1996 then you are exempt from the bedroom tax! This is because in those circumstances the way your “eligible rent” is determined is protected by previous HB regulations and so you are exempt from the bedroom tax.
Here is the Exeter letter and read it then think just how pissed off IDS and the DWP is going to be when they read it and realise that they totally f**ked up with their A4/2012 HB circular which omitted this fact and omitted this regulation and steered local authorities down a blind alley with misdirection.
For those of you who want more technical data simply check the A4/2012 and the SI 3040 to see if this old reg was removed or amended and it was not.
Happy reading people and put a review request in to your council.
IDS and DWP – Have a happy Christmas knowing all of the 660,000 households you imposed this bedroom tax on now know for sure that you are an incompetent a***hole
QUICK UPDATE – 6.05pm
The regulations which says the above and shows it to be true is the SI 217 of 2006 – The Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Consequential Provisions) Regulations of 2006.
The link above is to these and a pdf file but go to pages 32 and 33 for the pre 1996 issue and also note that schedule 3 (4) (3) (b) (ii) states that a break of up to 4 weeks in the continuous period is allowed.
Also note that schedule 3 (5) (b) which states this applies to the “previous beneficiary” reads strongly by me to include a case where the current tenant was living in the property in 1996 and succeeded to that tenancy at a date after 1996. To make that simpler if you were living with your parent(s) before 1996 and they were claiming HB and you succeeded to the tenancy from them after 1996 and have continuously received HB then you would also qualify for this exemption in my view.
Those looking for a very in-depth discussion as to whether the above is correct will find this link useful – http://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/5654/ – It may be difficult for a tenant to understand but for those of a sceptical nature and thinking this cant be right as I would have heard of it or know about it etc the discussion is particularly useful and supports my argument above. I put this on here as the odd comment is out there saying the Exeter letter is a forgery and presumably the same cynics believe Muslims get awarded a spare bedroom as a prayer room!!
Secondly, some legal comment has been received saying I should not say this is UNLAWFUL as I cannot state that term. There is a huge semantic element in this as well as a ultra conservative aspect. It is my opinion that all decisions in failing to consider this are deficient in law, which they are, yet some then say that does not mean they are ‘unlawful.’ I could comment, and correctly, that many of the same said I was wrong to say since before the bedroom tax began that room size could play a part. Some very assertively if not aggressively said I was talking nonsense, and some disgracefully so such as the CIH.
Yet then the Fife decisions on room size emerged. Opinion is opinion and we all have them and such opinions are always subjective UNTIL a court rules which they have in Fife and elsewhere subsequently. Some of the naysayers still persist in their negativity by saying and correctly so that FTT decisions dont create a precedent. That is true but they ARE a ruling of the court which then becomes the issue until another court decides otherwise and so opinion of whether room size or any other bedroom tax challenge will remain again become just opinion and nothing else.
I could say a lot more but wont, at least now and for some legitimate reasons. What I will say is that above is my considered opinion and I have yet to see a counterargument against it and as such the pre 1996 HB receipt argument is a very powerful one that I am highly confident will see tenants made exempt from the bedroom tax. Yet nobody is omniscient or THE expert on the many huge issues the pernicious bedroom tax throws up and nobody can be such is the huge ares this covers and the huge range of different issue that emerge because each tenant often has individual issues that could affect the decisions.
The ONLY thing we are all agreed upon is that the bedroom tax is a pernicious policy that is ill conceived and ill considered or more simply a back of a fag packet policy. I have consistently stuck to a line that the decision making process is a sham and this argument again proves that and I have always said the bedroom tax decision making process provided EVERY tenant with legitimate grounds of appeal as to its procedure, or crudely how the decisions were made. Again this issue proves that point.
Finally and with regard to this issue specifically, I have the balls to put my head above the parapet and my reputation at risk by making such issues widely available, while others often sneer at that. I have a right to express my opinion which I maintain and to date has shown is a considered view and my opinions have mostly been upheld. Even the cynics are entitled to their own opinion and that is right but rather than simply saying you dont believe it or say proceed with caution until experts such as X and Y (two well known national organisations) have verified it or the like remember two things. Please if you criticise my opinion then do so constructively and say WHY you disagree and open up a debate not just you disagree; Secondly remeber X and Y (as well as A and B and C and more) all said room size would NOT and could not apply.
So in very simple and direct terms put up or shut up…and if anyone says again I am giving false hope to vulnerable people remember you are giving they absolutely bugger all hope and even stopping them from challenging this hated policy with your non-constructive criticism and overt negativity – and challenging this is the tenants absolute right and costs bugger all – even less than bugger all hope.
As an added issue on that I gave a few bedroom tax appeal workshops in the past month and was told afterward by two frontline ‘welfare officers’ from housing association welfare teams that they did not even know the bedroom tax was appealable!! With that level of supposed help and with welfare advice services strained to the hilt and closing by the day and the removal of legal aid the last thing shafted tenants need is non constructive criticism and overt negativity from the naysayers. Even if I may get some things wrong, which I very carefully seek to avoid – and in this particular issue I am very confident of being correct, I try…and that I know is appreciated by tenants who are having to make life changing decisions with next to bugger all help out there. I wish the naysayers would have the balls to look a shafted tenant in the eye and say it is not right yet I doubt they ever would.
If you think this is a rant just say to my face you think I am giving false hope to tenants!
I trust that rant makes my position perfectly clear