“The minimum amount the law says you need to live on is….” A phrase familiar to any social tenant receiving any level of welfare benefit. Yet now your social landlord has lobbied to allow Iain Duncan Smith to take up £80 per week out of your welfare benefits at source to give to your landlord if you have rent arrears, which you will inevitably have as UC ensures.
Prepare to starve, get cold and ill, fall prey to loan sharks, prepare to die a cruel death in penury!
Anger and other emotions aside let’s have a look objectively at what has happened here and it is all to do with Universal Credit (UC)
Two elements of UC are the payment of all welfare benefits and what is now housing benefit in one monthly payment – known as monthly payment – and all of that being paid direct to the tenant – known as direct payment.
This involves 2 major changes for the social tenant as (a) they have to budget on a monthly basis not a weekly or fortnightly basis as now, and (b) they become full responsible for the payment of rent as the HB now goes to them and not direct to the landlord.
The rationale of IDS and DWP here is in work you get paid monthly so the social tenant needs to learn to handle money on a monthly basis; and for direct payment of HB this is what happens in real life so you need to be taught to be more responsible for paying rent
Social landlords were aghast at this direct payment of HB to the tenant. They knew this would lead to more arrears which is inevitable. So social landlords began to lobby IDS and DWP to change direct payment and produced research after research which said that social tenants did not want HB paid directly to them and that the social tenant should have the choice to have HB paid direct to the landlord as now.
IDS said no chance. Direct payment is a lifeskill that the social tenant needs to learn.
Social landlords and their lobbies – and it appears the National Housing Federation led on this – came back and sought a compromise. IDS was told the DWP needed to include an alternative payment arrangement “IF” the social tenant fell into arrears. The NHF and DWP agree and “IF” the tenant fell 4 weeks or more in arrears then the HB would be paid direct to the landlord and, at that time, an undecided amount would be paid direct to the landlord from the tenants other welfare benefits directly to the landlord to pay for rent arrears.
Three things at this point.
- The first is that the normal and typical amount a court says is the maximum to be deducted and all the tenant can afford out of other benefits towards arrears is £3.65 per week.
- The second is that social landlords were correctly worried about arrears increasing sharply and were right to seek to challenge this and find a solution. The fact the DWP accepted this argument shows its validity.
- Yet the third is that social landlords and DWP knew that the way Universal Credit begins is for all social tenants to have NO benefit income for 5 weeks meaning that the UC system was set up to see ALL tenants go more than 4 weeks in arrears – the trigger point for HB to be paid direct to landlords which is what they wanted, but also the trigger point for DWP to TAKE CONTROL of arrears and deduct arrears payments directly from the tenants benefit and pay this to the landlord
Lord Freud, the welfare minister, then announced that the DWP deductions from tenant benefits would be between 10% and 20%. The shit hit the fan and suddenly social landlords realised what an almighty unbelievably stupid mistake they had made.
The social landlords had given DWP control over rent arrears. Rent arrears – or getting the money in is something that always needs to be in control of those selling goods and services regardless of what business you are in. YET the unbelievably stupid and incompetent social landlords, led by the NHF, have given control of their income, or up to two thirds of it, to Iain Duncan Smith and the DWP!!!!
Social landlords have just cut their own throats in the most reckless piece of incompetence business decision making they could ever have done – and of course shafted the hell out of “their” tenants into the bargain!
Social landlords were fixated on getting HB paid to them by whatever means and in doing so they have well and truly fucked themselves and their tenants by giving control of arrears payments to the DWP.
The social landlord lobby which IH tells us was led by the NHF has gave IDS carte blanche over tenant arrears payments that could be as much as 20% of other benefits and that could be £80 per week or TWENTY TWO TIMES what a judge would award.
Can you imagine a few months after this comes in what IDS will be saying? Try this –
My department has been forced to pay to inept social landlords £20 million pounds in arrears payments that their feckless workshy Jeremy Kyle watching lifestyle choice tenants refused to pay despite the generous hard working taxpayer giving them this money for free to sit on their arses and watch Jeremy Kyle behind closed curtains on their taxpayer paid for 60″ flat screen TV.
Ok you get the picture. The social tenant will be pilloried and blamed even more than now and all due to the incompetence of social landlords who will soon see Joe Public’s perception of ALL social tenants as White Dee as some form of wistful nostalgia!!!
You beginning to see just how truly incompetent this lobbying was and how truly f**king incompetent social landlord lobbies are?
Well that’s just part of how truly f**king incompetent this is as not only have the nat Fed of behalf of all social landlords given away control of arrears payment they have also ensured that they cannot afford to use this alternate payment system for arrears. It is far too risky an operation for if the DWP deduct 10% – 20% of tenant benefits, that tenant and also the landlord is well and truly up to their eyes in the brown smelly stuff.
Of course what we WILL see is social landlords use this sparingly – and for sparingly read only for those tenants they want rid of whether they want rid of them for arrears, anti social behaviour or just because they don’t like the cut of their gib. Yes dear reader social housings very own ‘retaliatory eviction’ process so demonised in the private rented sector by social landlords!!!
That, along with the huge increase in tenants abandoning their properties to avoid direct deductions at source – yes this on the fly policy decision by Freud has never had any parliamentary scrutiny coming over two years after the passing of the Welfare Reform Act – does not include a facility for former tenant arrears to be deducted at source. So when the tenant abandons, their arrears become former tenant arrears, and the truly incompetent social landlords failed to see this too in their sell out of their business and passing of control over to IDS!
Enough objective comment
Dear tenant, I am not ignoring your scary as hell concerns you rightly have here, rather I am just making the point of how truly f**king inept social landlords are and how they have well and truly f**ked themselves as well as you by their rank incompetence.
Dear housing professional, do you have any residual faith in the NHF and other ‘sector’ leadership? Have you spoken to your union yet about how you need a greatly enhanced revised risk assessment for when you go out onto your patch? Can you even believe just how truly f**king stupid it is to give away control of rent arrears payment to IDS and the DWP? Can you, like I, think of 20 or more other all negative implications and consequences of this chronic incompetence?
Dear housing ‘great and good’ – are you still against the view I have been banging on about for years that the sector is not a sector, that is has no leadership, that is it incompetent at lobbying, that it is under radical attack from welfare reform and needs to get its finger out of its backside?
Dear #HousingDay devotee – so sorry to burst the great and genuine enthusiasm you felt for social housing last week by this rank incompetence. Perhaps you may review my constructive criticism that #HousingDay as good as it was needs to be 365 days per year and SHOUTED 100 time louder and directed at Joe Public and government and not at an internal housing audience?
Dear all in housing – OMFG its starting to sink in now isn’t it. Yes, social housing and its perception and reputation is not just in the toilet, the chain in that toilet has been pulled. And guess what its undeserved as 99% of you love your job and see social housing as a vocation and you genuinely care for the social tenant and are passionate about social housing and the many huge benefits it gives.
Yet the incompetence of your ‘leaders’ – the great and the good of social housing have sold you down the river too and made your job a hundred times harder and perhaps untenable so many of you wmay decide to go and stack she;ves in Tesco instead. Nobody would blame you if you did as who would like to do a job in which your ‘customer’ despises you as that is another thing this inept decision means.
To the many Chief Execs and Housing Directors I know, yes you will be just as angry as I over this and see all of the above implications only too well. Yet the headhunters will probably be already on the phone more than usual and this time you WILL take those calls and WILL begin to think what the hell am I doing here? That will be a great but understandable loss.
To the ever more commercial commercial commercial focus of the Nat Fed that increasingly fall in with the ever more commercial commercial commercial G15 – Why don’t you just admit you want to be a private landlord and get the fuck out of social housing?
Take your perverse London housing conditions and stop imposing them on the rest of the country where they don’t apply. So whether you want to maintain your facade of being social landlords or not, just fuck off out of social housing and the social housing model that does not suit your modus operandi and political will and commerci.
Yes I could, at a push, find an objective and more diplomatic way to say that. Yet enough is enough!