Coast & Country Housing Association is supporting up to 600 of its tenants to appeal the bedroom tax.
This is ingenious and look at what this plan is and not simply assume that this anti bedroom campaigner would say that in any case and dismiss for that reason. Every other social landlord will see just how clever this move is by just barely scratching under the surface of what it means and, more importantly, what it will undoubtedly achieve.
Social landlords like to talk the talk about how they put their tenants at the heart of everything they do, few by comparison walk the walk. As is invariably the case with social landlords and social housing, once one does something so clever the rest follow and all social landlords will see this here on 24dash and realise just how good a move this is. They should follow too and not just because I have been advocating appealing and advocating landlords to fund and support tenant groups, but because this is an extremely clever bit of business for so many reasons.
Firstly and immediately this stacks up financially. If say 500 tenants appeal and just 100 are successful then the costs saved in rent collection, in arrears loss recouped and increased guaranteed income for those 100 will more than pay for the costs of 500 appeals. The average bedroom tax nationally according to official figures is £774 per year and for 600 tenants is £464k. With streamlined processes each appeal has a significant economy of scale and given 20% is a very low appeal success figure then landlords recoup all costs within the first year and more. Then should the Tories not be voted out next May – and that is a distinct possibility however unfortunate it may read for many in housing – and the bedroom tax remains, then those savings continue for the next 5 years.
Hope for the best yet plan for the worst is very apparent in this plan.
Secondly, CCHA are using a tenant’s champion model to support tenants in appealing and this is real, genuine tenant involvement and I need not remind anyone in housing what a chimera real tenant involvement is or how beneficial it is for a landlord to have a real partnership with their tenants.
Thirdly, the bedroom tax has created a tension between tenant and landlord. Perception is what matters and many tenants perceive social landlords to be in some part complicit in the bedroom tax despite social landlords not wanting to admit that perception publicly. Yet that perception does persist and regardless of whether it is valid or not. A landlord so visibly and openly supporting its tenants creates huge goodwill for the landlord amongst its tenants.
Fourth, that goodwill doesn’t just manifest in significant PR opportunities or intangible issues; it holds very significant financial benefits for the enlightened social landlord like Coast & Country with many issues but especially the bete noire of the welfare reforms in direct payments .
The scrapping of housing benefit paid direct to landlords and tenants receiving housing payment directly who then have to pay the landlord – direct payment – is THE nightmare scenario in the welfare reforms for social landlords. The direct payment pilots revealed that 6.6% of rent goes unpaid when currently most landlords collect 99%+ of their overall rent. In simple and stark terms the amount of rent going unpaid potentially increases ten-fold and if that happens social landlords wither and die and very quickly indeed.
Fifth, and very importantly, even if 2% of CCHA tenants win at appeal you will still have 100% of CCHA tenants saying and knowing that their landlord stood four square behind them. At least my landlord did ALL that they could will be the perception and the correct perception of 100% of CCHA tenants.
Such a move is a no brainer for any and all social landlords and that goodwill this creates in spades will remain for years and surpass any level of goodwill any landlord had before the bedroom tax and other welfare reforms came into operation. Coast & Country have the proverbial happy customer and a customer is what the tenant becomes when direct payment comes in as the tenant gains control of the payment of rent.
Coast & Country in this clever plan to support hundreds of their tenants to appeal the bedroom tax have done more than any other landlord to ensure that their tenants remember they stood four square behind them and will be far more likely to pay their rent from direct payment than other tenants whose landlord talked the talk but didn’t walk the walk. Actions do speak so much louder than hollow words even if such words are shouted and those many landlords who constantly restate self-congratulatory messages that only they can believe should sit up and take notice – rather than hand them out.
Tenants on social media are already asking if Coast & Country can do this then why can’t my landlord?
Social landlords need to look at this tenants champion model that sees the landlord supporting tenants groups who in turn are supporting all other tenants and realise this is risk free and a very cleverly thought through business idea. Coast & Country have just put the social back into social housing and will rightly reap the positive bottom line impact this plan will return as well as the plaudits for the sentiment behind it.
CC – every landlord anyone?
Update – For the avoidance of any doubt the above does not downplay the sincerity and the sentiment of this move as the following extract from the news release reveals I simply chose to emphasise the ingenuity of the above.
“Just one couple..assisted in every way”