Why circa 100,000 men women and children are exempt from the Bedroom Tax..and the consequences!!

My last two posts have caused consternation as they have stated very assertively that there is a group of persons who are exempt from the bedroom tax yet have had the bedroom tax imposed upon them in error. Tenants are exempt from the bedroom tax if they meet BOTH the following conditions:

1. They have continuously received Housing Benefit (full HB or 1p per week) on or before 1 January 1996, AND

2. They have lived in the same property since 1 January 1996

IF you meet the above two conditions, and for the avoidance of doubt it has to be BOTH of them then you are exempt because the way your “eligible rent” is determined cannot have the bedroom tax imposed.  In simple terms you are exempt and the bedroom tax cannot apply under Housing Benefit regulations (the rules) and if this applies to you then send in a simple letter something similar to the one at the end of this should suffice and it took 2 minutes to draft. It is a simple matter so keep the letter simple.

I also read today that a councillor in Exeter tweeted he had seen the letter sent to the tenant which was the subject of my post here for full detail so the letter was not a hoax as some naysayers stated. So lets be clear and not beat around the bush, this exemption applies and it applies because the HB regulations say it applies!

Below I suggest about 100,000 men, women and children will now be taken out of the bedroom tax because of this exemption!

I also read today that Exeter City Council estimate 4% of tenants will be exempt from the bedroom tax because of this issue. That doesn’t sound a lot yet if that 4% figure is replicated nationally – and this exemption applies nationally  don’t forget – it means 26,400 households are exempt when they have been charged the bedroom tax. As each household typically has 2.4 occupants then 63,360 men women and children are going to be much happier this Christmas!

However the DWP’s own figures would suggest many more than this. The South West has 20% of working age tenants affected by the bedroom tax which is the lowest percentage nationally and nationally the average is 31% (it ranges from 20% in the South West to a whopping 46% in Wales) So this would mean ceteris paribus (all things being equal) that 40.920 households would be exempt nationally and at 2.4 occupants per household this makes 98,208 men women and children exempt from the bedroom tax who are now having the bedroom tax wrongly imposed upon them and have had this imposed wrongly since April.

Firstly that is a fantastic Christmas present for all those for whom this applies.

Secondly, it is fantastic news for all those who despise the pernicious bedroom tax. Its yet another nail and a significant one in the coffin.

Thirdly, it is a significant political blow to the coalition and to IDS in particular.  The credibility of the coalitions welfare reform agenda is seriously called into question and by extension the general public will see the bedroom tax for what it is – a back of a fag packet policy.  And there are a number of related issues that sees acute political embarrassment to the coalition which I will now discuss.

This exemption put simply is because if you meet the two conditions your “eligible rent” which is a specific Housing Benefit term in regulations is protected from any changes such as the bedroom tax deduction. Here is where that gets really interesting!

The DWP issued the bedroom tax guidance in a HB circular called the A4 of 2012 and this document is 47 pages long and highly prescriptive and tells the HB officer at your local council what to do in making the bedroom tax decision.  I wouldn’t call it quite spoon feeding but its damn close.  It is an incredibly strongly steered document that details in a chronological order what each local council – the bedroom tax decision makers – had to do.  The DWP thought they had made this watertight by being so comprehensive and so highly detailed and prescriptive.  The A4 of 2012 mentions the specific term “eligible rent” on no less than 29 occasions but guess what reader?

It does NOT mention “eligible rent” in the context of this exemption!! The buffoons at the DWP missed it!!!

It is correct to say that the DWP misled and misdirected every single local council by failing to include this meaning and protection that the pre 1996 cases give to “eligible rent.”  In fact at paragraph 10 the DWP actually states “There are no exceptions (to the bedroom tax) apart from those listed in paras 46-50.”  But the DWP was and is wrong in that and they failed to see this exemption which they should have done!

In political terms this is one almighty cock up that sees circa 100,000 men women and children have the bedroom tax imposed on them and the life changing impacts that had when they should not have had he bedroom tax imposed!!

Think about this some more and the two conditions, continuous receipt of HB and living in same property for the last 18 years or more will likely affect those who are on disability benefits as such cases will not have worked and so claimed HB over this time.

So not only is this 100,000 men women and children shafted by this incompetence and errant guidance (and the A4 is so prescriptive it resembles direction rather than guidance) it has shafted the one ‘group’ of people the general public think are deserving – the disabled.

Yes one almighty cock-up in political terms.

Of course IDS and DWP will blame local councils as you would expect ………and in this case they are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT TO DO SO!

Local councils despite being led up the garden path by this incompetent A4/2012 guidance have the responsibility to ensure that ALL HB decision conform to the HB Regulations and that includes the “Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Consequential Provisions) Regulations 2006 which is the HB regulation that provides the exemption from the bedroom tax.

Because the local councils got this wrong do the tenant victims that had the bedroom tax imposed in error have a claim against their local council? I have no answer for that but would assume there must be a case and especially because this was no ordinary cock up by local government; it had very significant consequences for these victims – the choice of eat or heat is a phrase bandied about since the welfare reforms and so this errant bedroom tax deduction is not just an ordinary everyday cock up!

Yet perhaps a bigger threat for local councils is that when they pay this money back to tenants the DWP may well say as local councils made the cock up then central government are not going to pay these monies to local councils?  I suspect they will and almost inevitably have to do that to save their own political face.

I wonder how many local council HB staff and particularly managers and finance managers are now wondering I wish I hadn’t made these sham and expedient decisions in the first place?  Try all local councils and if ever you reap what you sow was appropriate ….  A quick calculation see that councils have been underpaying tenants by about £573,000 per week and since the bedroom tax began at todays date that is 39 weeks or £22,347,000

So local councils have wrongly taken away over £22 million from the most vulnerable by their incompetence in making the bedroom tax decisions with such crass and shambolic processes!  But lets not forget they were strongly steered down this errant path by IDS and the DWP

Yes reap what you sow is incredibly appropriate!! Finncailly for local government and politically for central government

However the real claim could well be against landlords.  IF social landlords have advised tenants to downsize because of the bedroom tax and those that have moved directly because of this are going to be severely pissed off and rightly so if it is now the case that they are exempt from the bedroom tax.  Anyone see a huge number of hawkish solicitors advertising to such tenants on the where there’s a blame there’s a claim basis?  Yes has to be the answer to that one I imagine

Is there anyone out there who still thinks the bedroom tax was well thought through?  Anyone out there who still doesn’t think all local councils cravenly colluded with central government in this farce? Anyone out there who still thinks landlords did their best for tenants?  No, no and possibly some very honorable exceptions with social landlords but very tiny in number.

Anyone out there who still thinks that the Chartered Institute of Housing advised their members the landlords well?  Anyone out there who still thinks the Local Government Association advised their members the local councils well?  No didn’t think so!

But tis the season of goodwill readers and so lets concentrate on the circa 100,000 much happier smiles that will be on the faces of tenants who have been shafted and shafted and shafted time and time again in the bedroom tax by this chronic incompetence…who are now googling “No win No fee” like crazy!


i would suggest a very simple standard letter is sent by tenants who maintain they meet the two conditions above – continuous receipt of HB since 1 Jan 1996 and lived at the same property on that date and to date.

The letter would go to your local council and keep it simple as this is a simple matter (I know thats hard to believe but it is!)

Dear Sirs,

I ask you to reconsider my bedroom tax decision in your HB decision notice dated DD/MM/YYYY in accordance with HB regulations and with regard to statutory instrument 217 of 2006 in terms of my protected “eligible rent” the Consequential Provisions Regulations 2006 holds as I maintain I have been in continuous receipt of Housing Benefit since at least the 1 January 1996 and have have lived at my current address in all that time.

Yours etc

Anyone think your local council would make this same mistake twice?  Anyone think your council will say this is a let review and they will not reconsider and be shamed and risk being lambasted by the tribunals at appeal?  No me neither

47 thoughts on “Why circa 100,000 men women and children are exempt from the Bedroom Tax..and the consequences!!

  1. Thank you Joe.

    We have a question for you on the BT group. Accordingly, someone believes that ALL HA tenants are exempt as per the regulations. Can you clear this up please????

  2. No there is no special exemption for HA tenants as opposed to any others and no there are no special exemptions for Armed Forces families – there is a potential additional room allowed for some members of armed forces in some circumstances if they usually live at home but are away

  3. I take a slightly different perspective insofar as the directions to councils WERE so long and SO Prescriptive in their guidance,,,the error was probably noticed by IDS/DWP but they made the instructions so definitive…councils assumed..that IDS/DWP must have checked everything out and it was correct to simply plow ahead as guided..in the rush to get all their systems up and running in time for the ‘BEDROOM TAX’ imposition…This has IDS incompetence written large ALL over it.

    Also, what about those who met the criteria..but were successful in downsizing or moving into the private sector…all their costs to move, physical and emotional and psychological damage etc.Hope this gets in the National Media…The Mirror would probably cover it and The Guardian …Still any victory is worth it if it spoils IDS Xmas lunch…our very own expenses scandal and not a damned thing they can do about it PMSL with Glee Hope they have to pay interest too on any deductions made since April.

    1. Ooh I love it! Roll on PMQ’s after christmas – can’t wait to hear what call-me-Dave has to say about this one! How will they ever compensate all the people who’ve moved, who should have been exempt? How many will actually be affected by the bedroom tax now? Will they finally admit it’s costing money – not saving it? DHP’s, higher rents for those who’ve moved into private rental, cost of all the appeals……

  4. My family is one of the 10 cases going to High Court of Appeal on January 20th. I will pass this on to the legal people to see if it helps any of the cases, or helps against the Bedroom Tax in general

  5. This is indeed excellent news, if at least 100,000 people can be spared the bedroom tax. Let’s hope that’s an underestimate, and that even more people are exempt. Let’s hope that this works out and the government is duly embarrassed by yet more evidence that their welfare policy is an horrific shambles.

  6. Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    SPeye presents further evidence supporting their previous post that people in receipt of Housing Benefit before 1996 are exempt from the Bedroom Tax. Furthermore, they argue that this figure may be an underestimate. The real figure may be more like 26,400 household or 63,360 people. If this is correct, then it is a massive embarrassment to the government, as well as making things much easier for tens of thousands of families suffering hardship because of the tax. SPeye also discusses the possible legal implications of this loophole, if the tenants affected choose to act on it. Firstly, the government themselves would have to take responsibility due to the extremely detailed nature of the instruction they issued to local councils. Secondly, the councils that wrongly applied the tax, as well as the Housing Associations that wrongly advised their tenants to move to avoid would be liable for prosecution, which would cause further political embarrassment. This is excellent news for some of those affected by the bedroom tax, and shows how further action can be taken against it to discredit it and those who framed it.

  7. Joe, My sister-in-law was forced to move as she was living in a 3 bed property paying 25%. She had lived in this house for thirty years. She has down sized to a 2 bed(because no 1 bed available) so has to pay 14%. Would she have a case in law to argue, if HB had done their job properly in the ist instance, I. she could have remained where she was without penalty and 2. not still be penalised at her new address. Any thoughts would be welcome.

  8. Joe,
    i had someone out from my H/A yesterday to measure my boxroom, it is 55sqft, they will not reclassify, as they state that the 1985 housing act only applies to overcrowding & not under occupation, i shown them your post re this new exemption , and they said that WBC are aware of this and will not do anything about it until they hear from the DWP to confirm

  9. Please don’t hold your breath on this one… My son was exempt as he was a disabled child, he was looked at by the la and his doctor and medical evidence was provided, thus he was exempt… So what did they do? Changed the law… so now is not exempt! his medical need didn’t change, just the law!

    1. Very few disabled children are exempt and it is a myth that all disabled children are exempt which is not helped by the PM stating in error that disabled children are exempt. There has been no law change as the previous ‘law’ did not exist and the regulations for HB on the exemption of a disabled child are very rigid and contained in SI 2828 of 2013

  10. Hi Joe
    Unfortunately I missed the second condition due to my previous tenancy being declared unfit for human habitation (IDS would have been at home with the silverfish, snails and slugs that I was told I was imagining) so as a Cat 1 Public Health issue I was forced to move into my present tenancy although the HB was simply transferred to the new tenancy.

    The health hazard existed due to the local authority refusing to accept my contention that there were issues in the maintenance of the property – it was not only subsiding but also that there was a corroded spreader in the roof which would result in the loss of not only my home but also the neighbouring property.

    Any suggestions how I answer this as I am in receipt of DHP presently for the fact I am a multiple carer unable to live with the people I care for.

    Merry Christmas to Everyone bar the Condems

    1. The same regulation DOES allow a change of address if you were compelled to move because the first property was not habitable. I would still ask your council to review this. The specific wording of this regulation (see page 7 of SI 2870 of 2007) says

      “the dwelling so occupied was not the same by reason only that the change was caused by a fire, flood, explosion or natural catastrophe rendering the dwelling occupied as the home on the first date uninhabitable”

      I would argue that although the move was not created by a force majeure incident (fire flood etc) the move was forced by the first property becoming uninhabitable. It cannot have been the intention to only limit the “uninhabitability” due to force majeure. To do so would penalise the tenant for something out of their control. By the same reasoning I would also suggest a move forced by domestic violence which again is out of the control of the tenant can be argued and should be argued

  11. Reblogged this on patricktsudlow and commented:
    The ‘Bedroom-tax’, is not only morally wrong, it has always been a badly thought out directive, driven by the morally corrupt Iain Duncan Smith. Someone who had spent time being jobless and whose fortunes changed after his marriage. If an ex-officer of the British Army, could not find employment, how does he expect other to find work?

  12. It’s wrong, it’s VERY wrong, and only targets the poor.
    Conclusive proof that the UK government is morally corrupt and run by A holes.

    Why there hasn’t been a reaction to it is because of who it targets.
    Those least able to right back.

    The tactics of a school yard bully.
    The tactics of an Oppressive government.
    i.e. The exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner.

  13. Hi Joe, we are now hearing that you have you have to have proof that you have been receiving HB for all those years. And that councils only keep records for 6 years. Any thoughts on this please. Read Mike Silver on Vox political.
    So, if that is the case, a FOI request would be useless??
    We have such hope for this information to make many exempt from the BT.

    Hardly anyone would have their HB awards dating back to 1996?? So, HOW can you prove it??

    Advise would be much appreciated. Thank you

  14. Hi Joe, just read your comment about having to move because of domestic violence and that being out of the control of the tenant so am wondering, I had to move as given notice to leave (private rent) is that worth arguing with ….?
    Wishing you a wonderful Christmas!

  15. I have been on HB since well before 1996 and lived in social housing property and lived in the same property from 1995 -2011 but due to demolition of the whole estate have been moved into a new built property approx 100 yards with the same housing association (coast & Country) would I still be eligible.

    1. Based on the above you would have to argue the first property (95 – 2011) was uninhabitable which it clearly was by being demolished and that the regulation couldnt possible be meant to exclude that circumstance

  16. 3 commons votes since April on Bedroom Tax and High Court sittings in May and End of July and all tha while 41,000 households needlessly paying tha Bedroom Tax.Nothin about this 1996 regulation in ANY of these deliberations (not exactly a ancient magna carta regulation) I don’t know if Stephanie Bottrill was one of those exemptions

  17. Can you advise what it means where it mentions the eligible rent being inherited? A friend lived with his mum who died in 1999, she claimed housing benefit then and from before 1996 (& friend was receiving long term incapacity benefit) & when the tenancy was put into his name he continued to claim housing benefit, he has lived in same house all his life as was family home so has always lived there. I was just wondering if he would be exempt in any way or would it have to have been in his name for the whole time? Thanks.

  18. hi, I have lived in my home for 27yrs and have been paying br tax since april 2013. I have spoke to rent officer femi osinaike who said that it does not apply to council tenants ? lol, please help

    1. it does apply tell her to read U1/2004 HB circular and again DO NOT CALL COUNCIL PUT IT IN WRITING as then council has to respond in writing and if they say same in writing please please please let me know!!!! Which council is this?

      1. Thank you so much, my daughter is now dealing with this through email to femi osinaike manager and the law centure the council is WAIT FOR IT! ROYAL BOROUGH OF GREENWICH LMAO. and thanks again. I am paying £31.82p a wk from my esa and it is killing me. I missed one payment over xmas and have already had a letter for court,

        Sent from Windows Mail

  19. Jooles, this DOES apply to council tenants. You should send your council the info on it! Send the letter in to get exemption from the BT – and your money refunded.

  20. I lived in one council house from 83-98 then had to move to identical property, just a couple of streets away – with out the steep outside steps due to ill health and have lived here ever since. I wouldn’t of moved if I hadn’t been forced to through ill health so do you think I have a case for exemption from the bedroom tax? I have been on HB all this time.

    1. Julie, your council would say no yet it is a worthy argument for a Tribunal to consider at appeal. If you have been forced to move with circumstances beyond your control then why should the HB regulations penalise you for that when they wouldn’t if you moved because of a natural disaster?

  21. Guess what Joe Halewood ? The Huyton lady with a medical room, has been on benefits since 1990 & has lived in her home 28 yrs ! KHT nor HB Knowsley did not spot this ??? I do not know the lady very well I was simply trying to help her armed with only with scant information …I asked her these questions tonight when I was able to speak with her … …. Yahoo ! I shall take over to them your letter you suggested …& give them hell over this ! How not professional …for them to miss such an important point ?

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