The bedroom tax DHP postcode lottery

If you live in Copeland you have a 6% chance of getting a bedroom tax DHP: Yet if you live in Westminster it is a 169% chance! Yes you read that correctly and below here is a little graph which shows this starkly:

dhp-bedroomtax chance

Here is the maths bit which is pretty simple so bear with me.

  1. The DWP release Housing Benefit statistics which shows at February 2014 there were 914 bedroom tax households each losing £21.71 per week on average in Westminster.
  2. Yearly this is £1,132.79 per household and with 914 households gives a total bedroom tax cut in Westminster of £1,035,376 per year.
  3. The DWP also released the HB circular S1/2014 which details how much each local authority gets per year in total DHP and Westminster received £4,821,711 for 2014/15 in DHP of which just over 36% at £1.75m (yes more than the total bedroom tax) was given.
  4. Of this £165m total DHP to all councils the DHP has given £60m of this for bedroom tax or just over 36% of all DHP is allocated to councils to pay for bedroom tax.

Westminster was allocated £1,753,348 for bedroom tax DHP yet its total bedroom tax cut was £1,035,376 – Or as the graph above shows Westminster’s bedroom tax DHP was equal to 169.34% of its total bedroom tax cut. This equals the % chance of receiving a bedroom tax DHP.

Copeland has 1,409 families hit with an average £14.11 per week bedroom tax making a total cut of £1.037m per year which is very similar to the £1.035m total bedroom tax in Westminster.

Yet Copeland was only given total DHP of £171,911 of which just £62,513 was allocated for bedroom tax DHP – or just 6.03% of the total cut and a mere 6.03% chance of getting a DHP! Yes that means you have 28 times the chance of getting a DHP for bedroom tax if you live in Westminster than if you live in Copeland in the North West!

The DWP data published in February 2014 (below) some 6 months ago reveals – as an aside here – that there are 498,174 households hit by a weekly bedroom tax that averages £14.40 which means the total bedroom tax cut is £374.3m in a year and not the £500m that IDS, McVey and Freud keep saying it is.  This cut is the maximum amount of ‘savings’ the bedroom tax can make mathematically and that assumes there are no costs such as DHP or others to set against it.  Note too that the most recent figures reveal 471,000 or so households hit and below this 498,174 figure used here and significantly below the 660,000 households the DWP estimated in June 2012 that would be affected.

bedroomtaxnov13

The DWP issued the HB circular S1 of 2014 which lists the total amount of DHP at £165m and included in that a sum of £60m for the bedroom tax or in its words RSRS.

To return to the bedroom tax DHP issue here is a graph of the worst places to live if you want to claim a DHP for your bedroom tax:-

dhp-bedroomtax lowest chance

The differences in DHP allocation for the bedroom tax are stark as the regional distribution below shows

dhpregional

To explain the above we see London (inner and outer) has a bedroom tax cut of 14.64% of the £374m total UK bedroom tax cut which is £54.8m cut yet receives £18.7m of the bedroom tax allocated DHP or 31.28% of this £60m.

By contrast the North West has 15.29% of the national bedroom tax cut at £57.26m (and more than London) yet receives just £6.37m in bedroom tax DHP or 10.62% of the national £60m bedroom tax DHP.

London as you can see is the only area of the country that gets more than a fair share of bedroom tax DHP and the contrast with the North West is a case in point.  The North West has a bigger bedroom tax cut at £57m to London’s £54m yet London gets 3 times the amount of bedroom tax DHP than the North West.

Postcode lottery?

Yes and No.

On an inter regional basis London at a 34.25% chance gets far more in DHP bedroom tax allocation than any other region with the North East tenant only having a 9.4% chance on average and yes that means you have 4 times the chance of getting a DHP in London than in the North East so there is an undoubted regional postcode lottery taking place.

Yet we also see markedly varying figures within London too evidenced by a mere 11% chance of getting a bedroom tax DHP in LB Southwark but a 16.21% chance in Darlington in the North East and a 51.55% chance in Blackpool in the North West.

The LB Southwark figures are interesting as it has a total bedroom tax cut of £4.04m yet receives just £445k in bedroom tax DHP; whereas LB Westminster has a bedroom tax cut of £1.03m yet gets £1.75m in allocated bedroom tax DHP.  In short, there is huge disparity and inequity intra regionally and this means the defence of London has higher rents cannot explain the inter regional inequity between London and all other areas.

I wonder what this means for the government’s legal position in the MA & Ors bedroom tax case as the High Court and Court of Appeal have upheld their view that in essence the provision of DHP for bedroom tax permits the discrimination the policy holds against disabled tenants by way of mitigation.  Any such mitigation is not universal and has to be a post code lottery as the above figures clearly demonstrate so therefore, the DHP mitigation for the found discrimination has to be reconsidered legally and may well happen if this case gets to the Supreme Court.

I also wonder what the Scottish Government make of this too as they are making up the difference between the bedroom tax DHP given to Scottish LAs from their own resources.  Yet is Scotland had been given bedroom tax DHP equivalent to its percentage of the bedroom tax cut then there would be far less for them to have to find.  The November 2013 figures reveal that Scotland had 11.32% of the bedroom tax cut at £42.38m yet received £5.54m in bedroom tax DHP when proportionally they should have reduced £6.79m or £1.25m more than they actually did.

Keeping with Scotland and the perversity in the DHP allocations made by central government we see a bedroom tax tenant living in the city of Aberdeen having a mere 9.05% chance of a DHP yet a tenant living in Aberdeenshire having a 31.93% chance!

Yes that means the bedroom tax DHP lottery is not just inter regionally or intra regionally it is also sub regionally.

How about two of the well-known bedroom tax legal cases involving Paul Rutherford and Jayson Carmichael?

  • Paul Rutherford like all Pembrokeshire bedroom tax tenants has a 12.37% chance of a DHP yet if he lived in Ceredigion he would have a 41% chance.
  • Jayson Carmichael in Southport has an 11.06% chance of a bedroom tax DHP yet if he lived a few miles north in Blackpool he would have a 51.55% chance

The realities of this DHP bedroom tax allocation begin to emerge and expose it for what it is, a post code lottery and yet another back of a fag packet policy of this coalition.

There is a real sense of anger within me that social landlords have not exposed this post code lottery in terms of challenging the bedroom tax and a similar sense of anger that Her Majesty’s Official Opposition, that is the Labour Party, has not exposed this too.  That of course is tempered by the feigned ‘opposition’ and feigned ‘challenge’ we have come to expect from both of these actors on the bedroom tax stage.  Time for them to stop ‘resting’ don’t you think?

Finally, the bedroom tax affected tenant, disabled or not, will quite rightly be angered by this post code lottery.  Not only have they had life-changing cuts imposed upon them by a sham bedroom tax decision-making process and sham of a policy, we now see that the government’s principal claimed mitigation in a DHP is also a sham too.

___________________________________________________________________

Postscript – I will publish separately a full list presently to show the relative positions in all councils and regions

Here is the link to the tables for each local authority and region – (Dropbox pdf)

 

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5 thoughts on “The bedroom tax DHP postcode lottery

  1. The DHP lottery needs to be made much, much fairer. The more I look at this ridiculously inept, or as you say, ‘fag packet’ policy, the depth of its incompetence just makes me laugh these days. Ludicrous.

    There are a lot of tenants here in Pembrokeshire who haven’t got DHP’s and Pembs CC have returned ‘unspent’ DHP allocation to the Treasury.

    I find that hard to understand, but am still of the belief that there are an awful lot of people out there who just ‘pay up’ rather than go through the process of applying for a DHP.

    I also think that the application form itself, at least here in Pembrokeshire, is very badly designed indeed – from the tenant’s perspective. It asks about ‘other sources’ of money that may be found or made available to pay BT: donations from other family members, savings, etc being examples. The ‘financial breakdown’ page doesn’t go into anywhere enough detail and is likely to result in applicants appearing to have excess income.

    There is also the constant reminder that the DHP fund is ‘limited’. But if money hasn’t been spent… ?

    I do feel that there is nowhere near enough publicity or help available here, especially for the council’s own tenants.

    There is also the question about what ‘incentives’ the Coalition may have put in place to perhaps ‘incentivise’ councils to keep DHP payments to a minimum? Or am I being [as usual], overly cynical?

    Thanks for another informative blog.

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