Official – DWP announce pre-1996 position is true and thousands have had bedroom tax imposed in error!

Heres the proof people!!! The text of the U1 HB circular of 2014 which PROVES the DWP made an absolute cock up and the pre-1996 position does apply!!!

NOW it is up to everyone, tenant, landlord and council to find and let everyone know that they may be exempt from the bedroom tax.

Needs no more comment from me at this time except to say great news (and thanks to so many people who have worked on this)  Peter Barker aka HB Anorak deserves a very special mention here and so many more though too many to mention.

I will unashamedly mention a local grassroots group Reclaim that I attend and help out with (thereclaimgroup@aol.com) who have worked tirelessly on this issue and have got details of many hundreds of tenants from all over the UK affected by this in the last week or so and scores and scores coming in by the day after raising awareness locally on BBC Radio Merseyside.

Anyway dear reader…ENJOY!

HB U1/2014                                                          8 January 2014

Contact Queries about thebulletin in general, contacthousing.benefitenquiries@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

distribution of this bulletin, contact

housing.correspondenceandPQs@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

Who should read All Housing Benefit (HB) staff
Action For information

Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy

 

Background

  1. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is aware that there are a small number of claimants who may be entitled to have their eligible rent calculated pursuant to paragraph 4(1)(a) of Schedule 3 of the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Consequential Provisions) Regulations 2006 (Consequential Provisions Regulations) rather than the provisions which relate to the Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy (RSRS). The Department will however be taking steps to remedy this shortly.
  2. For these HB claimants the RSRS should not be applied if they under-occupy their property. Instead their eligible rent must be determined in accordance with regulations 12 and 13 as set out in paragraph 5 of Schedule 3 to the Consequential Provisions Regulations.
  3. For claimants to come within paragraph 4(1)(a) of Schedule 3 to the Consequential Provisions Regulations, they must have been continuously entitled to HB since at least 1 January 1996 and occupied the same dwelling since that date, save for any period where a fire, flood, explosion or natural catastrophe has rendered the property uninhabitable.

reaks in entitlement

 

4.  The provisions outlined above continue to apply if there has been a break:

  • in entitlement of no more than 4 weeks
  • of entitlement of no more than 52 weeks, if the claimant or their partner is a welfare to work beneficiary

5.  Note: it may be the case that the transitional protection has been inherited by a claimant and if so they should be treated the same.

Identifying affected claimants

6.  Some claimants may already have contacted you about this and requested payment of arrears. However, many claimants will not be aware of this issue. You should therefore consider whether you are reasonably able to identify potentially affected claimants from your own records.

7.  However if this situation comes to light local authorities (LAs) should not revise awards unless they are satisfied on the basis of evidence that the claimant satisfies the criteria.

 

Action to take with immediate effect

 

8.    Once LAs are satisfied that a claimant’s eligible rent should not have been reduced the existing decision must be revised to remove the under-occupancy reduction in the claimant’s HB from 1 April 2013 until the legislation is amended.
9.    This means that arrears of HB will be due from 1April 2013 to the date of reassessment.
10.   You should also record details of affected cases so that once the legislation is amended they can be reassessed to reapply the under-occupancy reduction.

Crown Copyright 2014

Recipients may freely reproduce this bulletin.

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78 thoughts on “Official – DWP announce pre-1996 position is true and thousands have had bedroom tax imposed in error!

    1. Im sure you can now approach them tomorrow with an almighty grin on your face !!! Yes Happy New Year to many thousands of tenants and we all need to find them and make them aware

    2. Sorry you have got it wrong you don’t have yo have lived in the same dwelling AND received housing benefit as well the schedule quite clearly states EITHER the dwelling occupied as his home, the person was continually in receipt of housing benefit. The term EITHER is quite significant and means you only need to satisfy one of the above to be entitled to be exempt

  1. Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    This is great news – right up to the part in paragraph 1 of the circular that states “The Department will however be taking steps to remedy this shortly”.
    It’s curious; my understanding of English suggests a ‘remedy’ is a cure for an illness. It seems odd to me that the DWP is using such a word when it plans to make the problem worse.

  2. Excellent news fantastic thank you all so much for bring this to the people we should have a big party outside no10 beter still in Trafalgar Sq well done everybody

  3. Excellent news for all those struggling, I guess this explains why they want to make another 25 billion in cuts, they must have seen this coming, sad thing is they will just find another way to hammer the poor, the sick, the weak and anyone who isn’t a millionaire Tory donor !

  4. only worry is last bit Joe (no 10.) You should also record details of affected cases so that once the legislation is amended they can be reassessed to reapply the under-occupancy reduction. what exactly does that mean ? I am not signing a new tenancy agreement

  5. Look at point 10, though ” You should also record details of affected cases so that once the legislation is amended they can be reassessed to reapply the under-occupancy reduction.”
    Doesn’t this mean they are planning to change the law and then slap the tax back on the people who are currently exempt?

  6. Dear Sir or Madam, it appears that my client’s Spare Room Subsidy has been incorrectly removed. I would be grateful if you would re-instate her previous Subsidy accordingly. Yours faithfully etc…..

  7. Many Thanks for this Joe. And many thanks to ALL those that have brought this to our attention…………
    I also, am very concerned. By point 10??? And the implication’s of that???
    And, surely, if they are now going to change the legislation, it must be investigated by the Parliamentary Ombudsman??

  8. Sorry as if I sound a bit thick I don t understand this I don’t know if I am entitled to this I have lived in the same property since 1980 and have been getting housing benefit before 1996 any body know if I fall into the group mentioned .?

  9. BARBARA MURRAY68 PAXFORDSLAINDONESSEXSS15 6SQ Dear Mr. Halewood I have been following your posts for months I am your No. 1 fan.I have a question for you that I hope you can answer for me. I lost my home through domestic violence and I couldn’t pay the mortgage on my own. The council accepted me as unintentionally homeless. they rehomed me on the same day of the repossession, in a 3 bed house in feb 1995. The council then moved me and my children into the above address in june of 1996 also a 3 bed house. This was a move that was made by the Council and not by my choice. I have been in receipt HB continually since 1992 and I have been at the above address since june 1996. As this was not my choice ( ie;- I just fancied a change of scenery) the council moved me to a new home, would I qualify and be excempt from the bedroom tax , and then have protected rent?I don’t see how it can be held against me when making their HB descision, if the COUNCIL moved me to this address and I had no say in the matter.I have approached the council and their stance is this …I had a choice to go to the private sector , so it dont qualify. I have pointed out that I was already a Council tenent in 1995 so that “choice” should be classed as irrelavent. I would really appreciate any light you can shed on this for me , maybe it would apply to many people as this was the height of a lot of repossesions.. not unlike now. many thanksB.MURRAY

    Date: Wed, 8 Jan 2014 23:28:21 +0000 To: jjhferm@hotmail.co.uk

  10. Even if people are single, who on earth wants to live in a one bedroom house anyway ?
    Lets be honest a fair proportion of elderly couples suffer from all manner of medical conditions, and many of these do not wish to, nor need to, share a 4′.6″ , which is the most that a so called ‘purpose built’ OAP property bedroom will take. As it is, many of these so purpose built ? !, properties are an insult to the elderly. No property built in this age should have less than 2 bedrooms . By that I do not mean a second bedroom, that is little more than a box room. I wonder where age UK stands on this ?

    1. Hello, Vernon! I can’t speak for Age UK, but pensioners are exempt from the bedroom tax. In one way, it exacerbates the problem, since even if older people want to move into a smaller property, they will not be prioritised because they aren’t being charged for the extra room they currently have. Other tenants who are not pensioners are facing eviction because they cannot pay the arrears that mount up from this iniquitous tax, so should be prioritised for any smaller properties.

      I commend all the hard work that has gone in to proving this critical legal point, but the Government will close the loophole pdq. They have form for bringing in retroactive legislation, too, so I’m not hopeful that there will be compensation for those who have been wrongly evicted or otherwise harassed. I hope I’m proved wrong.

  11. Now that the legal point has been conceded by DWP, the focus moves onto the practicalities.
    Local authorities will be trawling their records as best they can, but they are hampered by three issues:
    – many will have changed their claims processing software at least once since 1996, so will they be able to access archived data?
    – many will have switched from paper files to DIP/EDM during that time, did they backscan the paper files?
    – councils are keenly aware of their obligation to process personal data fairly under the DPA and they will tend to discard data once any realistic likelihood of it being used again has passed. Most will take the view that the six year limit for recovering debt in the Limitation Act 1980 is long enough. So the chances are they have long since got rid of data from the late 90s/early noughties
    This means that tenants and those advising them are going to have to do their bit. In particular, if you think this applies to you speak up and make yourself known – the Council may not be able to identify you on its own initiative. Even if you cannot persuade the Council that you qualify, don’t be discouraged because Tribunals tend to be less rigorous when it comes to burden of proof. If what you are saying is not inherently implausible, you come across as a credible witness and there is no documentary evidence to disprove what you say, a Tribunal judge is likely to find in your favour.

    1. Peter, very welcome comments and I’m sure the “civil burden of proof” will come into play at tribunals – the balance of probabilities in lay terms – so I agree that tenants should be encouraged to appeal these decisions and that judges will look for this

  12. hi there joe. i have just been in touch with my housing benefit appeal officer who is aware of this issue and is exempting these people -he said only about a hundred people are exempt at the mo in bradford – and although the person is a lovely and very helpful person -probably the nicest guy i have ever encountered at bradford council may i add- he is confident that people who have moved since 96 due to domestic violence are not exempt as they are not mentioned anywhere in that piece of legislation.

    Obviously looking at this exemption he is correct as domestic violence is not mentioned at all. he is aware of the law and is very professional and he said if he could he would help exempt me.

    is there a template anywhere on any site which i and others who have moved due to domestic violence can use to send to their appeal court. my appeal is 10th of february 14 which is very near and im not sure how i would word my letter in order to appeal on this ground.

    surly moving to preserve my life/health/sanity should not be a reason to penalise me and many others from this awful burden as domestic violence can kills as surely as any crumbling/flooded/falling down building.

    thanks

    1. Bradford has 2900 or so bedroom tax affected tenants so just 100 is 3.4%. I strongly suspect that when succession cases (those that inherited tenancy after 1996 who retain the previous beneficiaries protected status than the figure will rise around the country

      Contact thereclaimgroup@aol.com for template letters although any such letter will need to include the DV ground stating that a move was forced on you and not within your control and surely the intention of the regulation was not to penalise someone fleeing DV. Thats an argument for tribunal not for council

  13. Thanks for this I contacted my local HB office it has caught them on the hop a bit as the lady I spoke to did not know anything about this until she asked her manager who had only been made aware of this today so they are going to look into this my landlord sanctuary Housing were aware but only had records going back till 2008 so told me to contact HB office Cherwell District Council so I get a positive response thanks again for this info.S.M.JONES

  14. now. what about the suffering and some cases deaths related to this, if it was imposed wrong then the present Government and the ones who imposed it were in the wrong, so what about them, if i did something like this i would expect to be brought to court for this, time this was done to the people who pushed this stupid sick law foward

  15. While this is truly wonderful I feel so, so sorry for all those now homeless, those who committed suicide because they couldn’t cope any longer and all those made more ill/sick.
    The DWP should now be charged with manslaughter at the very least.
    I suppose the nasty (evil) party will now want lots of votes from grateful people.
    Hope UKIP get all the votes and the Tories get a warrant.

  16. Re-blogged this on Jay’s Journal and commented:
    Good to know for a lot of people, not a small amount as they have said. Spread this far and wide so that it reaches those who are eligible…

    Thanks for all the hard work to everyone who worked and will still work on this 🙂

  17. Just saw this in my top posts and while it doesn’t affect me I wanted to read to see what monumental cock up the government have made this time. And wow what a cock up. DIdn’t some poor lady commit suicide over this very issue?! If I were her family I would be going to the high court for compensation!

    I have to add though that while this is a victory it seems to only be a temporary one as it says at the end
    “10. You should also record details of affected cases so that once the legislation is amended they can be reassessed to reapply the under-occupancy reduction.”

    So just be wary that they will shift it back at some point. But hopefully by then these current idiots will be gone!

    1. Note that paragraph 10 says LEGISLATION is amended not regulation as this is a key distinction. Just when DWP could do this and how long it will take is the subject of much debate with the consensus being at least two months and probably longer. The important thing to note is that this cannot be retrospective and all the experts in this field agree on that. Also note if it is discovered at some point in the future after DwP change the regs (if they do too is an issue) then you would still be exempt from 1 April 2013 until the date of that change an still be entitled to a refund as that is what the regs state now and legally apply for 2013/14 even after any change

  18. I live in Port Talbot South Wales had to move from my home of33yrs to smaleer premesis asnd as no 1 bed properrties available had to take 2 bed for shich I pay £48 mont, does this still apply to me and to whom should I contact please.

  19. Sorry you have got it wrong you don’t have yo have lived in the same dwelling AND received housing benefit as well the schedule quite clearly states EITHER the dwelling occupied as his home, the person was continually in receipt of housing benefit. The term EITHER is quite significant and means you only need to satisfy one of the above to be entitled to be exempt.

  20. I have been in receipt of housing benefit since feb 1996 but do not live in the same property. I live in a 2bed flat & have been paying the ‘bedroom tax’ since april 2013 so do I qualify for full refund?

  21. hi…i been living with my wife since 1986 in the same house…..and was in full housing benefit since 1995….in swansea city …what my position please

  22. HI..i sent letter to basildon council as been on hb prior 96,but told i wait till they done investgating,But lady at council still told me i have to pay under occupancy..I said but the £13.11 i have been paying each week for bedroom tax is the underoccupancy to which she replied no that is seperate..

  23. I went by the template of the “eligible rent” pre 217 of 2006 etc,and put all in writing which council received 8th jan 2014,but was asked have i had a confirmation letter from housing benefit,I got awarded the DHP from 1ST jan 14 to 1st march14..but still dont get i have to pay the under occupancey which spare room is under 70sqft..got told i took on as a 3 bed,it was my mums home i took over tenancy after her death march 1995..

  24. Hi im back again (LOL)Well good news is i received a letter today 18th jan 14,Re:Credit on rent account…I write to advise you that following a recent account,a credit balance is showing, to enable us to refund this credit to you,it would be appreciated if you could complete the attached form,and return to us at the address shown.

    Upon receipt of this information,a Bacs Credit Transfer will be actioned and paid directly into your bank account..

    I dont know if this is the typical letter as there is no amount of refund,wanted your expert advice please joe…

  25. Measured spare bedroom its under 60sq feet..i be getting onto council monday see if they wish to argue with me over the HA2004..Could not of done this without all the help from Joe..Thankyou

  26. could some 1 please help we contacted council and they said we not exempt from bedroom tax as we moved in in june 1996 but i moved in from a tempary flat and was still in reciept of full housing benfeit can i appeal??

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