Wow! CC supports 600 tenants to appeal the bedroom tax – cc all ha’s

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”

just one couple

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12 thoughts on “Wow! CC supports 600 tenants to appeal the bedroom tax – cc all ha’s

  1. Interesting Joe. You don’t say whether these are all using the same argument or whether there’s a variety of appeal types.

    The tenant champion idea can be very powerful in a number of ways but needs a structured way to get their capability up. We’ve been supporting these type of initiatives, what we call barefoot advisers, for some time with a combination of e-learning courses on benefits, from basic to advanced, and access to benefit calculators. As we put this into organisations with unlimited licences there’s no cost disincentive to spreading the usage as widely as possible regardless of take-up. What’s important, if organisations move to this a s a prime first-tier advice network, is to refocus existing specialist staff into support and more expert work like the appeals and disability benefits.

    1. There’s a variety of appeal types that can be grouped into categories (size, usage, disability issues, inability to mitigate, HR and other broad groups of appeal grounds) and often combination of these grounds such as size and usage. Each case is based as it has to be on individual fact of each individual case yet streamlining of such arguments through standard arguments on size and usage means the process can be streamlined and take advantage of economies of scale too

  2. Hello Joe, the above H.A. has been assisting us for some weeks now with the following. Leafletting all tenants affected by the bedroom tax making them aware they have a right of appeal, and on what grounds they might appeal on. Alongside their contact telephone number are the numbers of other organisations that may be of assistance. Top of the list of these contact points is, Bridgend Against the Bedroom Tax, including our web addresses. We may use their premises (an office), photocopying etc. Just recently their surveyor has done some room measuring on our behalf and taken photo’s. This will be a great help to us in our efforts to assist tenants who in the main we find are most vulnerable. What is so surprising about this is that I myself am not a V2C tenant although my colleague is. My own H.A. is not so supportive as V2C and for obvious reasons will remain anonymous, they are a bit tetchy about my activities. Though it best to let you know about this after your most welcome blog today which has been sent on to other H.A.s Regards Alan

    1. Alan, I will email you over this but what I can say here is Coast & Country have gone way beyond the good efforts you describe above and its time for ALL landlords to follow suit for the financial and goodwill reasons I state in the blog

    1. No.

      A landlord is free to choose whether to support its tenants or not and there is not formal route of complaint here at all, only embarrassment if landlords choose NOT to support their tenants. The reasons why they should support their tenants are a no brainer as I outline but it is entirely up to each individual landlord whether it wants, and wants to be seen, to be supporting “THEIR” tenants as they always refer to them

  3. I was so impressed by this article that I sent the link to my own Housing Association (Guinness Northern Counties) and got a standard reply. I hoped it might shame them into having a conscience instead of harassing people who fall into arrears due to the bedroom tax as they do at the moment.

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