Lodge a complaint over Wakefield’s bedroom tax position

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:-

Lorn6

 

To simplify

  1. I have made my decision
  2. I am not going to change it
  3. Bugger off!
  4. Oh and by the way you will note we have asked the Tribunal dismiss this appeal;
  5. I have no qualms telling you what to do with YOUR property;
  6. I have not even bothered to look into the legalities of you using a room in your property as a storage business
  7. 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!

lorn9

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

westberksbedroomtax

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???

 

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* FOAD – Fuck Off And Die! (For all you plain-speaking Yorkshire folk!)

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Lorn6

 

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10 thoughts on “Lodge a complaint over Wakefield’s bedroom tax position

  1. @ Joe Halewood – Shouldn’t we be “NAMING & SHAMING” all council rent benefit officials or Housing staff who either CAN’T or WONT carry out their given employment correctly in ALL INSTANCES? anyway.
    I have suggested this on many occasions but been basically told I can’t as I would be sued (or at least would leave myself open to it) that it wouldn’t be wise! I truly believe that all staff EVERYWHERE should either be able to effectively carryout their given tasks as employed to do, or they shouldn’t be in employment it’s that simple, surely.
    You regularly see this type of officialdom or jobs worth type of behavior in the course of Housing Officers daily workload, (who generally require to have NO training or degrees to be employed to begin with, there is off course a college course I believe they can take but few do, as I say it’s NOT a requirement usually in most Housing Offices countrywide) why would they bother, thus meaning NO countrywide standards ??.
    So what we are left with is just bad training? lack of knowledge? or something else, far more sinister perhaps? that makes these officials behave in this manner? Or is it really truly worse? with their personal opinions and beliefs making these people, behave in this way? to show total contempt for, to detest and hate HB claimants so much as to make them have some misbegotten belief that they are better than a claimant? or that they have the right to treat all with NO respect, NO compassion and worst still NO knowledge of the situation, rulings, laws and affect on claimants lives through their beliefs, or in fact lack of knowledge, or any other reason? surely ALL up and down the country are employed to carry out the same job, and surely that would entail a great deal of repeat decisions, yet from the very start of Bedroom Tax dealings many years back now! it has more often been the case where one LA would say one thing! and another, another, and even one HO in a LA would say one thing, where another would say the reverse, causing mayhem and as I am sure you can recall many elongated arguments in various groups and pages!
    For this reason alone, I think it’s ONLY FAIR to name and shame ALL in this situation and let’s see just how rapidly decisions are rectified, changed or repelled.
    A almost wholly Labour council indeed, is this the same Labour that the bulk of the groups against BT are dependent upon getting back into power? and them immediately reverting BT ?? Don’t make me laugh!! even if it were possible Labour are NOT the ones to rule our country again, nor revert BT, as they won’t, all they are doing is vote catching! and under faulse presences, the exact same as David Cameron and The Conservatives did last time around, let’s NOT let history repeat itself, let’s NOT blindly vote Labour!!! or else I promise as do a rapidly growing amount of voters, we will NEVER get out of the horrendous effects of both Welfare Reform and obviously then BT.
    Keep up the good works buddy, keep exposing these frauds.

    “Bedroom Tax Chat group on Facebook “The first & original” still going strong today”

  2. Reblogged this on Jay's Journal and commented:
    These hoity toity personnel who think they are hired as hitmen and not servants of the council and taxpayer!
    I hope Clare Butterfield is hauled over the coals and either demoted or sacked!
    As for the whole of the council – I have no words!

  3. I’ve been led to believe by a ‘reputable source’, though have no actual proof, that the ‘signature’ on our Bedroom Tax correspondence is that of a non-existent person, but is a generic name used to retain the anonimity of the actual ‘officer’ making the decisions that have led us to where we are today.

    If true, I wonder if that may be the case elsewhere? I’d be very interested to know the truth or otherwise, of what I’ve been told in any case.

  4. It is not true in Sefton Paul. Ms Diane Turner’s name can be found on all correspondence relating to BT and HB decisions. She is real I have met her.

  5. All credit to West Berkshire Council. And, yes, if they can do it. Then so can other Councils.
    I’m told by my Council. BRIGHTON & HOVE. Rob Coulson. Appeals officer.
    That they CANNOT make such decisions. And that’s WHY they are taking me to Tribunal. (On room size and room use).
    I have sent them a copy of every single FTT win, I have knowledge of.
    I am Disabled. 95% bed bound. And have mental health issues. the stress is unbelievable!!
    I’ve been awarded a DHP until my Tribunal. As yet, no idea when that will be.
    Their reason for giving me a DHP? Because of the stress I am under. (In writing).
    I guess, I’m supposed to be grateful??!!
    And, that they don’t take DLA as income.
    (Because, when they tried. I challenged them).

    You do have to wonder, what these Labour MP’s do to earn their money?
    My MP is a Tory. So, had no support there!!

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