The DWP has finally released the first interim report into the bedroom tax today – 163 pages of mostly waffle on first reading but some really interesting issues emerge.
P17 for example has this:
Paying the shortfall
Landlords reported that, five months into the RSRS, 41 per cent of tenants have paid the full RSRS shortfall, 39 per cent have paid some and 20 per cent have paid none.
Let’s do a quick extrapolation and a more up to date one than this report. The bedroom tax has 471,000 affected households at an average of £14.40 per week cut in their Housing Benefit at February 2014 and this is a falling number from the 542,000 first reported. This means the total bedroom tax cut for the first year will be between £360m – £390m and here I use the lower £360m cut.
- If 20% of tenants have not paid that means landlord arrears have increased by £72m
- If the 39% who have paid some average 50% of the bedroom tax being paid than that is a further £70m of arrears landlords now have.
Combine the two and we see the bedroom tax has increased social landlord arrears by £140m
That is a good ballpark estimate although there are so many variables which can adjust that by as much as 20% either way giving a range of £112m – £168m. The decreasing number of affected households could reduce it although I use the 471,000 number of households which the lowest figure yet and is 190,000 or 28% fewer households than the DWP expected in their estimate the bedroom tax would affect 660,000 households. The longer the bedroom tax goes on the more tenants that wont be able to pay could increase landlord losses which will of course be added to by their possession costs which can average about £7,000 per property.
The DWP interim report is as vague and woolly as you would expect on this point (and every other point) and frankly the report is 163 pages of turgid indecisive nonsense and anyone expecting some revelatory insights will be seriously disappointed.
Total arrears (for all reasons) held by social landlords increased by 16 per cent between April and October, although it must be emphasised that the cause of this is uncertain and we cannot directly attribute this increase to the RSRS. Landlords state that they will eventually evict RSRS-affected non-payers, though at the time of the research most were currently only in the early stages of this process. Many landlords expressed concern that
collecting rent from people who can’t afford to pay whilst in their current circumstances is damaging relations between landlords and tenants.
The above also on page 17 explains exactly what I mean. Arrears have risen but this is not due to bedroom tax! No we can’t possibly say that! So what is it down to then? Do you offer any explanation for this? Er…no! Ah I see so this is a whitewash then? You may say that I couldn’t possibly comment…blah blah blah!
Then we have the one genuine insight that the bedroom tax is damaging the landlord:tenant relationship. Yet this (a) comes from landlords, (b) is not commented upon at all and (c) is massively understated. Tenants no longer trust their social landlord and this is a huge matter with future planned reforms such as direct payment of HB to the tenant scaring the life out of social landlords and rightly so.
This report is as much of a charade and sham as the bedroom tax decision making process an the next report is due AFTER the next election. How convenient eh reader?
I do leave you with some mild amusement and look at page 13 for a real FREUDIAN slip and I wonder how long it will be before social landlords state there will be no effin funders?
There is no F in funders lending to social landlords eh DWP?
If I haven’t dissuaded you from reading this whitewash of a report you can enjoy it here though please make sure no sharp implements are near and you are sitting comfortably. And just to be on the safe side make sure the smelling salts are handy so when you fall over in shock at just how inept, wish-washy, incompetent and frankly offensive this report is… You have been warned!