Council HB staff often get a bit miffed when the humble lowly social tenant has the temerity to challenge one of their bedroom tax decisions though none as much as Clare Butterfield the Appeals and DHP Officer of Wakefield District Council.
The council was asked to review their decision and one reason the tenant stated this (cavernous!) 46 square feet room was not a bedroom was it could not accommodate a lodger. Here is the response that the tenant received back:-
- I have made my decision
- I am not going to change it
- Bugger off!
- Oh and by the way you will note we have asked the Tribunal dismiss this appeal;
- I have no qualms telling you what to do with YOUR property;
- I have not even bothered to look into the legalities of you using a room in your property as a storage business
- So bugger off!
I’ve heard that the storage of oxy-acetylene bottle pays well reader!!!!
The rest of the correspondence is the usual fare, that is, ff you want to argue 1985 Housing Act on overcrowding we will count your living room as a bedroom. Note here that the tenant sent in pictures of the property and the sole living room has a gas fire in it and cannot be a bedroom, but hey that doesn’t trouble the little head of Clare Butterfield with her how dare you challenge my decision you oik so again bugger off!
What a nice person this Clare Butterfield is eh reader! How dare a tenant store a clothes airer and expect the Council to pay for it!! Oh hang on does Wakefield Council pay the cost of HB or is that central government? Yes it is and Clare Butterfield does not appear to know this.
[Yes that is the third time I have mentioned her by name and this officious officer deserves naming and shaming as her example is the worst I have come across…unless of course you know different dear reader and if so you know where to send the information to!]
Wakefield in West Yorkshire is a place known for plain speaking though despite having 2 UKIP councillors is hardly known for its right-wing views given that 54 of the 63 councillors are Labour and led by Peter Box CBE who is on the LGA board. The MP in Jon Trickett, a Unite the Union sponsored MP, who has strongly voted against the bedroom tax and welfare reform. One wonders do these politicians and their sponsors know of the FOAD* (see end) attitude of the officers in the council?
Wakefield has according to February 2014 DWP figures 5,149 households affected by the bedroom tax which collectively makes a £3.8m cut and is allocated just £325k in DHP giving each tenant an 8.5% chance of getting one. The 5,149 bedroom tax households is out of 30,000 total HB claimants, that is including private tenants, and has a much higher percentage of bedroom tax affected households than anywhere else in West Yorkshire with 59% higher than Leeds and more than double that of neighbouring Kirklees (137%) and Bradford (138%) and Calderdale (147%).
Wakefield is a Labour stronghold -the kind of place where you pin a red rosette on a monkey and it gets elected – yes that’s the same Labour party who say they are so against the bedroom tax and will repeal it. However, despite Wakefield having a similar percentage of bedroom tax affected to Liverpool which has had about 50% of all bedroom tax appeal wins this is the first case I have heard about in Wakefield. I wonder why that is reader??
More than a year or so ago I reported that many councils were dissuading tenants from appealing the bedroom tax and even that Coventry and Cornwall councils asserted a tenant had no right of appeal and others such as Liverpool were playing all sorts of dirty tricks to dissuade tenants from appealing.
Is the real reason for the low numbers of appellants the officious officers such as Clare Butterfield? Having spoken with tenants across the country and literally hundreds of them right across the UK council staff dissuading tenants from appealing is commonplace. Some councils have been supportive but belatedly so and they are in a very small minority and at the other extreme some councils have changed decisions rather than go to Tribunal and an interesting case here is West Berkshire who decided a purported bedroom was in fact a home office and revised their decision that the room was a bedroom and removed the bedroom tax imposed
What a contrast between West Berkshire and Wakefield -the sublime to the ridiculous – in the LA approaches to a tenant’s bedroom tax appeal.
Coincidentally Nearly Legal here is reporting (yet another) successful bedroom tax appeal when the Tribunal in Rochdale decided that a room much bigger than the one above was not a bedroom as it was too small for ….yes dear reader you’ve guessed….a LODGER!
I am not in the least surprised the judge did not advise the appellant to go store some oxy-acetylene bottles in this room to make a bit of spare cash are you???
* FOAD – Fuck Off And Die! (For all you plain-speaking Yorkshire folk!)