Every local council is unable to make a legally reliable bedroom tax decision in 2014/15 unless they inspect.
They must tell central government that this is the case because it is the case.
- During March all of the 523,000 households currently hit with the bedroom tax will have to have a new decision for the new financial year which begins in April.
- Social housing rent levels change in April and of course this means a new Housing Benefit decision is needed.
- Yet your local council is unable to male a legally reliable decision unless they KNOW what your alleged ‘bedrooms’ are used as and how they are furnished.
- The only way they can find this room usage out is if they inspect all properties
- Yet councils cannot afford to come out to inspect
Local councils have to abide by the Bolton Upper Tribunal decision that a bedroom has its ordinary dictionary meaning of a room used as and/or furnished as a sleeping place. They cannot escape this as the Upper Tribunal sets legal precedent.
Last year ALL local councils chose to accept the word of the landlords as to the number of ‘bedrooms’ in a property. Yet that meant all local councils worked on the basis that a ‘bedroom’ is a room that COULD be a bedroom and not what the room is used for.
The UT decision in Bolton throws out that expedient strategy as not being lawful and to levy the under occupation charge which can only be levied on a bedroom the room or rooms in question must first be a bedroom and not a dinign room or a study or any other purpose for which they are used.
In short this is a matter of fact and a matter of fact in each indivudial case. So if your tenancy agreement says 3 bedrooms and you use 2 as sleeping rooms and the other as a dining room then you have 2 bedrooms and a dining room and you do not have 3 bedrooms as your council assumed and then imposed the bedroom tax upon.
That is what Bolton means and that is how it was applied in the Monmouth case here with the judge ruling the alleged 4 bed property to be a 2 bed one with a study and an art room and hence the bedroom tax did not apply.
To things flow from the Bolton decision.
Firstly the current decisions made for this financial year 2013/14 are legally unreliable and evert tenant who has been penalised with the bedroom tax for an alleged bedroom they use as a study or as a dining room or any other purpose it is used for other than to sleep in can and should appeal.
Ask your council in a letter to conduct a late review of your decision quoting the Bolton legal precedent and informing them your disputed bedroom is a dinign room or study or whatever it is used for or furnished as. Inform them that if they do not revise the decision the matter will become a formal appeal.
Secondly, and more importantly for me as it proves the bedroom tax is dead, how can any council make a legally reliable decision that rooms in your property are bedrooms if they do not come out to inspect them? They cant as I said above and here is why not using Liverpool as an example.
Liverpool City Council has 10,800 households that have had the bedroom tax imposed yet LCC do not KNOW that alleged bedrooms in these properrties are used as bedrooms or furnished as bedrooms.
To make a legally reliable 2014/15 bedroom tax decision LCC has to KNOW as that is what the Bolton legal precedent means.
- If 1 LCC officer could inspect 8 properties a day that is 173 properties in a month and it would take 62 months to inspect all properties.
- To inspect all properties in 1 month which is the time LCC has got they would need to employ an additional 62 inspection officers for 1 month.
- If LCC has to engage 62 inspection officers for one month then through an agency which is only how they could do this I would estimate a cost of £200 – 250k for that month.
- Of course LCC could choose not to grow a set and tell DWP they cant administer the bedroom tax lawfully and make the same sham decisions they made this year based on the strategy the courts have rejected.
- Then 10,800 tenants will appeal and cost LCC between £500 and £1500 each which is £5.4m to £16.2m and cost the governmet just as much in the costs of the tribunals
Ok no need to elaborate along that path any more. The question becomes can local councils administer a policy they KNOW produces legally unreliable decisions? If they think they can then lets make sure everyone appeals.
I have spoken with councils over this and they admit verbally that the Bolton judgment means they HAVE to inspect yet they also state they know they cant do this as they have neither the resources or the time to inspect. I’ve a feeling that local councils will shortly say enough is enough and tell DWP they can no longer administer the bedroom tax policy without inspecting and they are not prepared to inspect unless DWP pays for that cost, which of course DWP will not.
Anyone still think the bedroom tax is not dead? If so Norway is a good place to look for fjords I’m told…just follow the flight of the Blue Parrots!
The DWP has also confirmed in writing in an FOI response dated 11 February 2014 that they will NOT be appealing the Bolton UT decision see below and my thanks to the wonderful Jeanette who has worked tirelessly on challenging the bedroom tax since the beginning.
PS Another three successful bedroom tax appeals in Liverpool room size, overnight carer for son of disabled tenant and a dad allowed a room for his duaghter who stays at weekends. Some exciting trnascripts to come. Maybe we can train Blue Parrots to act like carrier pigeons or we can get Harry Potter’s Owl Hedwig to get these decisions to IDS and DWP even quicker!
Ok reader whats next on the agenda to get rid of? Benefit cap? Sanctions? ATOS? Let me know on firstname.lastname@example.org and we can start putting the next campaign together acting together we will win