Last week I informed of a Tribunal judge ordering a council to go inspect a disputed room for its size.
On the same day the same judge also ordered the council to go inspect a disputed room for room usage!!
I like this just as I liked the order (directions notice) to the council to inspect on room size as it recognises that all bedroom tax decisions were a sham. Councils simply did not know whether a room was a bedroom in terms of size or usage when they made the original decisions. Then even when disputed in the vast majority of cases councils never got off their backsides to go out and inspect and come to a legally reliable decision because they didn’t go out and look at rooms.
Councils never asked landlords for the dimensions of alleged bedrooms they just asked for the number of them in the landlords view and then chose to make their decisions on that data from the landlord as it was the cheapest way of making decisions.
Given the potential life-changing consequences of the bedroom tax decision councils have always been on a sticky wicket with this. Make a convenient decision at the cheapest cost in the absence of fact and then shaft a vulnerable tenant as to do the job properly in the first place would have cost too much. That is excuse not explanation and can’t be anything but.
Yet when the councils – public authorities of whom we have to have trust in to get a decision correct – then fail to go out and inspect after a rooms use or size or purpose or functionality or whatever as a bedroom is so much worse. Councils relied upon the vast majority of tenants to tug their forelocks and believe that the council is an authority figure and we being British assume authority must always be right. I can also understand councils not wanting to go out to the small percentage who did dispute for fear of setting a precedent and creating cost for themselves. Councils were guided in this sham process by irrational guidance from the DWP and given no extra money to make the additional bedroom tax decisions.
Yet still while all of that may be explanation it is still EXCUSE and an even bigger sham of a decision making process made worse by the odd council such as West Berkshire who did go out inspect a room and decide it was a home office and not a bedroom.
Councils simply decided to pass the buck in this top down farce and impose the bedroom tax on the tenant at the bottom of the ladder. That stinks and always has done. It was and still is INEXCUSABLE. The entire bedroom tax decision making process was and is a sham and a truly offensive piece of action and inaction by local councils and they should be deeply ashamed of what they have done as tenants have lost their HOME, not just their bricks and mortar, and some tenants have lost their life too by committing suicide due to the imposition of the bedroom tax by assumption of local councils, the public authorities we are all brought up to trust and respect.
So major hat tip to this judge and its only a pity it has taken this long for a judge to order a public authority to do what they should have done and needed to do in the first place!