Bedroom Tax – the protected pre 1996 regulations – sources and comment. It applies and exempts!

Yesterday (Saturday) I put out a post about the FACT (yes fact!) that if you have been in receipt of HB since before 1 January 1996 then you are exempt from the bedroom tax.  This is contained in HB regulations and specifically in the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Consequential Provisions) Regulations 2006.  Hereafter called CPR 2006.

This seemingly obscure regulation and everyone has missed it first surfaced or at least first came to my attention from the Rightsnet discussion site – in brief a very reputable and well regarded site used by benefit professionals.  It was posted by “HB Anorak” on 2 December and I have referenced this in the post of yesterday which has gone ballistic all over social media.

Please look at that link before you comment that Shelter CAB and NHF et al have never heard of this and other such comments that suggest this must be a hoax.  It isnt.

The opening discussion is very interesting on Rightsnet:

“I have just been told by an LA appeals officer that she has been directed by the Tribunal in several bedroom tax cases to state whether the claimant has been receiving HB continuously since 1/1/1996. This highlights a loophole that had not occurred to me.”

So what can we glean from that?

  1. This issue came from a Tribunal judge!!!!!
  2. The Tribunal judge DIRECTED a LA appeals officer to look at this existing HB regulation!

So this issue has not been invented and has very valid origins coming as it does for a judge presiding over bedroom tax tribunal cases.  Yes we all missed this and by all that means every single HB Authority that HAVE to look at this.  It also includes the Shelter, CABx NHF and all the other apparent ‘usual suspects’ who appear to have authority and credibility with so many. I missed it too!

Google “Statutory Instrument 217 of 2006 ”  and you are taken to it and then look at pages 32 to 33 of this .pdf file.  You could even then go to look at  SI 2870 of 2007 when the definition of “eligible rent” was slightly amended but to no consequence for the protected 1996 issue and then you could access the A4/2012 HB circular and the SI 3040 of 2012 which introduced the bedroom tax to see if this protected 1996 issue has been modified, removed or amended for the bedroom tax.  It hasn’t!

Or you could go back to HB Anorak and the rightnets discussion and read the second paragraph which reference the CPR 2006 and states:

“That paragraph applies mainly to ‘exempt accommodation’, but it also applies to any HB case (absolutely any case without exception, including rebates and HA general needs) where the claimant has been getting HB since 1/1/96.”

The above is my emphasis.

HB Anorak then goes on to discuss this is great detail which will go way above the heads of the average tenant in a discussion that runs to 9 printed pages.

All the naysayers and cynics have all the information they need to assess the ‘provenance’ of this issue and that provenance is the fact this is in HB Regulations and we all missed it, including the DWP.  (No surprise there then but that has huge implications HINT!)

To all the naysayers who are attacking me over this or expressing incredulity that the issue must be a fake (as some have said the Exeter letter is!) or a hoax or even arrogance and attention seeking from me that gives tenants false hope (where have we heard that one before ….ahem CIH?) then here you have all the information you need to make up your own minds!

This originated from a very thorough judge presiding over bedroom tax appeal cases and the issue is definitely a runner.   So expend your energies working out what this means rather than speculating that just because X,Y and Z have not heard of it it must be a hoax.

I am not and have never claimed to be a HB expert but I have a lot of experience there and checked this out before I posted the blog yesterday.  HB Anorak IS a HB expert and well known and highly regarded in this field and admitted that this issue ‘had not occurred to me’ and the moniker “HB Anorak” is a self-deprecating one of a HB ‘geek.’ Yet HB Anoraks ‘provenance or credibility is not the issue here (and its top drawer!) just as mine is not the provenance is in the HB Regulations themselves and the references are all here.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Aside and other thoughts: The regulations refer to the same dwelling with the exception of force majeure issues that render the dwelling uninhabitable and ONLY that exceptional circumstances.  Yet that would rule out this protection from those who had to flee domestic violence and surely cannot have been the intention to do so!  So not only does the general application of the protected pre 1/1/1996 position need to be ruled upon, there also needs a ruling on if a claimant has lost this protection if they had to flee domestic violence and abuse.  If that applies to your case I would still ask for a reconsideration or an appeal on that specific set of circumstances too.

Yet another unforeseen issue with this back of a fag packet bedroom tax policy? Yep!

I trust the above puts an end to the hoax and incredulity nonsense.

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19 thoughts on “Bedroom Tax – the protected pre 1996 regulations – sources and comment. It applies and exempts!

  1. Peter Barker (@HBAnorak) December 22, 2013 at 9:31 pm Reply

    I am HB Anorak, and thank you Joe for the flattering comments about my expertise. From my past contributions to this blog I think you will agree I am cautious about getting too carried away with some of the more speculative, even fanciful perhaps, bedroom tax avoidance arguments. But this one is 100% watertight as far as I can see.

    The calculation of eligible rent for HB is one of the most complicated parts of the HB scheme with five separate methods running alongside each other depending to varying degrees on when the person first moved into their home, when they claimed HB and which rented sector they are in. The following is a simplification, I hope not an over-simplification.

    In 1996 the calculation of eligible rent was handed over to the independent Rent Officer service for new private rented sector HB claims – reasonable rent for HB was no longer left to the Council’s discretion and judgment from 1/1/96. But the Government at the time wanted to exempt two groups from these new rules: people in supported “exempt accommodation” and people in general needs private lettings who were already on HB and still living in the same home. The way they did this was to freeze the pre-1996 eligible rent rules for (1) exempt accommodation and (2) ALL existing HB claimants in the same property.

    Nobody was thinking particularly about social sector tenants at that time. But the method chosen to preserve the entitlement of existing pre-1996 private tenants seems to have had the coincidental side effect of freezing the eligible rent rules for pre-1996 social tenants as well. The rules were not changing for social tenants in 1996, so it really made no difference whether they were subject to the old rules or the new rules – both pre- and post- 1996 Regs for social tenants were essentially the same. But strictly speaking, eligible rent for social tenants who have been on HB in the same property since 1/1/96 is still calculated under the old rules … and now from 1/4/13 it does make a difference because there ain’t no bedroom tax in those old rules.

    This is no hoax and the argument definitely has merit.

    • joehalewood December 22, 2013 at 11:29 pm Reply

      Peter

      Firstly the comments as to your expertise are deserved.

      Secondly, everyone owes you a huge debt of gratitude for releasing this information

      Thirdly, your ‘caution’ is welcomed and just as some can be ‘over’ cautious some can be ‘over’ optimistic!

      Thank you for your comments as they are a great help to alleviate the hoax / naysayer issue and I would appreciate your comments as to my DV point re not being in same dwelling. I know of a case with continuous HB receipt pre 1996 yet that was broken by a change of address caused by fleeing DV and surely the intention of this was not to penalise a women for fleeing DV! The same woman has to move a second time due to her ex coming out of prison and finding her whereabouts. All of the DV fleeing issues being evidenced by police logs etc

      I fail to see how those two enforced breaks none of which were the fault of the tenant and neither could be avoided for her and her family’s safety could be ruled outside this regulation

  2. Peter Barker (@HBAnorak) December 22, 2013 at 10:07 pm Reply

    By the way, the Exeter letter appears to be consistent with the format generated by the Academy system which is used by loads of Councils – more than 100 I would guess. Looks genuine to me

  3. Mike Sivier December 22, 2013 at 11:18 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Vox Political.

  4. seachranaidhe1 December 23, 2013 at 9:19 am Reply

    Reblogged this on seachranaidhe1.

  5. beastrabban December 23, 2013 at 9:21 am Reply

    Thanks for posting this really important piece of information. I’m sure it’ll help a lot of people.

  6. beastrabban December 23, 2013 at 9:27 am Reply

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    SP Eye here presents the evidence to back up their earlier post that people, who have been in receipt of Housing Benefit before 1996 are exempt from the bedroom tax. This should help very many people, who are struggling to make ends meet due to this iniquitous piece of legislation. I’ve no doubt, however, that when this gets taken up, the government will either dispute it or try to pass legislation ending it. But for the time being, it’s another blow against the tax and the hardship it causes.

  7. […] Bedroom Tax – the protected pre 1996 regulations – sources and comment. It applies and e…. […]

  8. Geraint (@Wolfhanger) December 23, 2013 at 2:32 pm Reply

    I have been in receipt of housing benefit since before 1996, I have been with the same HA for 17 years, I was moved from a bedsit to a 2 bed house in 2000. I have been in and out of work throughout this time and have paid rent with my wages. My housing benefit HAS NOT been continuous so do I still have a case?

  9. Debbie Price December 31, 2013 at 10:48 am Reply

    We have had some information from reclaim.
    They want to hear from people who are in this category. So that they can contact your MP on your behalf..
    With a view that if the DWP TRY to change these regulations. The Parliamentary Ombudsman can be contacted.

    thereclaimgroup@aol.co.uk

    Write PRE 1996 in the header.

    They need your initials and post code.

    I maintain I have been in continuous receipt of housing benefit since 1st. January 1996.
    And have lived at my current property in all that time.
    I give my permission for reclaim to notify my MP on this issue and then contact me with any developments.

    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

    However, this does not take into account the ‘certain exceptions’. As in certain breaks in HB.
    And certain reasons for moving in that time.

  10. Debbie Price December 31, 2013 at 10:55 am Reply

    PS. YES, the letter from Exeter Council, IS genuine. The lady in question is a member of our Facebook group. And was made exempt in the space of 48 hours.
    And is owed £400.

  11. Susan Wardle December 31, 2013 at 1:06 pm Reply

    Thanks Debbie. I’d like to ask you who the reclaim group are and how can I get some details about them before giving them my personal info?

  12. Susan Mcpartland January 6, 2014 at 11:57 pm Reply

    Hi i think this applies to me because i have been in receipt of benefits and have been in my property since 1987 what can i do about it please ??

  13. […] had lived in the same Solihull house for the previous 18 years (since 1995). Recent revelations by Joe Halewood at SPeye have shown that this meant she was exempt from paying the charge under the Housing Benefit and […]

  14. mariekratky January 16, 2014 at 9:16 pm Reply

    i would lke help please.who do i contact. im in Coventry.whitefriars housing.i am disabled.any help is appreciated.

  15. mariekratky January 16, 2014 at 9:17 pm Reply
  16. joehalewood January 17, 2014 at 9:54 am Reply

    Marie you need to contact your local council in Coventry and Im aware of a local anti bedroom tax group in Coventry who are on facebook
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Coventry-Against-the-Bedroom-Tax/274623832669278

    All tenants wherever you are located can do a google search for “anti bedroom tax coventry” or “anti bedroom tax auchtermuchty” etc or you could always email thereclaimgroup@aol.co.uk who are a voluntary agency near to me and will help

  17. John Boadle January 17, 2014 at 6:23 pm Reply

    Thanks for passing on our details, Joe. I will email Marie directly to see if there is anything we can do to help.
    John Boadle
    Coventry Against the Bedroom Tax

  18. Janet Schwartz February 24, 2014 at 6:12 pm Reply

    I was unaware that I was exempt from the Bedroom tax when I conducted my own appeal hearing against my landlord some months ago. I have lived in my home for more than 17years and I have been in receipt of housing benefit all of that time. I have written confirmation from my council landlord of this I have now been informed by the tribunal Service that review has been granted of my bedroom tax appeal as there contains an error of law. I have been looking in the Housing benefit and council tax regulations 2006 that the judge has made reference to but I cant get my head round any of it. Would any one be able to help me decipher what the error of law is exactly?
    I am not sure if the appeal is due to just the 17 year exemption point or if there is something else that the judge may have picked up.
    The Tribunal letter states;
    “The tribunal does not appear to have considered the position in relation to a tenancy granted prior to 1 / 1 / 96 where the tenant has been in receipt of Housing Benefit for the same property throughout.Specifically the tribunal does not appear to consider whether the Appellant falls within the terms of paragraph 4 (1) of schedule 3 to the Housing Benefit and Council Tax benefit ( consequential Provisions) regulations 2006 and whether her eligible rent should be determined by reference to Regulation 12 and 13 of the 2006 Regulations set out in paragraph 5 of schedule 3.

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