WHY councils are dreading the 2015/16 bedroom tax decisions.

In a number of posts recently I have stated that the bedroom tax UT ruling will cause havoc with the new decisions due in early March for the coming financial year 2015/16.  See here and here and also note the Nearly Legal view of this here too.

With every HB decision the claimant, the tenant, has 3 types of challenge to that decision by right and these are:

  1. Request for more information (aka a full statement of reasons)
  2. Request the council reviews its decision (a reconsideration) and,
  3. A formal legal appeal to the tribunal

What the UT ruling does is say that the council must consider all relevant circumstances on a case by case or individual basis.  Paragraph 54 says this unambiguously:

“Parliament intended to allow decision makers to take account of all relevant circumstances on a case by case basis.”

The relevance of this can only be fully understood with an understanding of the first type of challenge above – asking your council for a full statement of reasons as to HOW they came to the decision to impose the bedroom tax.

The bedroom tax tenant has an absolute right to request their council gives them a FULL statement of reasons as to how they came to their decision, as long as they do this within one month of the decision.

In an early 2013 blog I suggested up to 20 questions could be asked of your council as to HOW they made your individual bedroom tax decision.  This I then condensed into a template letter with 6 or 7 of these which was widely used yet as I have noted recently councils ignored but now CANNOT ignore due directly to the UT ruling.  Your council has to conform to and demonstrate in a full statement of reasons they have considered all relevant factors.

Today I saw a rejected Freedom of Information request from Darlington Borough Council to a bedroom tax tenant who asked these same questions, or at least 16 of them, in a FOI request as they maintain he is a vexatious litigant.  The details are here from What Do They Know.

Whether the tenant is or is not a vexatious litigant is not the issue here and I make no comment as to that.

What IS the issue is that these questions largely comprise what is a full statement of reasons as to how a council makes a bedroom tax decision and all 684 others in Darlington can legitimately ask these when the new decisions land in early March 2013.  For that matter so can all 471,887 bedroom tax affected households who are affected nationally ask these same questions as it is their absolute undeniable right!

Those original questions need some tinkering with and of course the UT ruling also adds more questions as your council does have to show HOW they have considered ALL relevant circumstances on a case by case basis – and of course your council does not know your individual circumstances so just how it can say they are relevant or not is impossible!

Read the FOI request and response above and you will begin to get a flavour of why I said that councils are dreading the 2015/16 bedroom tax decisions and why the UT ruling means that all councils will incur huge costs of complying with requests for statement of reasons that reflect each tenants individual circumstances.

WHEN, those allegedly full statement of reasons do return to the tenant the tenant can they request a review of the decision and citing some or all of thee ‘relevant circumstances’ that their council did NOT take into full consideration before they made the decision to impose the bedroom tax.

More work, more resource, more cost and a huge increase in all of those for every local council who are the only decision makers in the bedroom tax.

YET I have no sympathy whatsoever for local councils as this is what they should have done in the first place and instead they – incredulously – chose not to do this and chose simply to believe the landlords word on an en masse blanket approach basis.

IF all 471,887 bedroom tax households who were shafted by their councils in this fettered en masse approach that the UT has said is not lawful as Parliament’s intention was to see all relevant circumstances considered on an individual basis, then they can hardly moan if all 471.887 shafted bedroom tax households take up their absolute right and demand an individual and full statement of reasons.

Do unto Caesar dear tenant and shaft the hell out of your council with a lawful and just response to their unlawful and unjust sham of a bedroom tax decision making process.

Anyone still believe the new bedroom tax decisions will see councils get away it this time?  No I thought not!

***********************************

PARA 54 – WHAT ARE YOU says IDS & Freud below!

car54

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “WHY councils are dreading the 2015/16 bedroom tax decisions.

  1. It’s worth everyone having a look on ‘what do they know’. There are MANY, MANY such FOI requests asking many different Councils, the exact same questions!!
    It’s worth, reading their replies!!
    AND, will they be responding in the exact same way, when Tenants ask them once they have received their new HB awards??

    1. Debbie, Ive covered that point hopefully in the post. WHEN councils send back stock replies the tenant can then request a review saying they have not considered X, Y and Z etc. More cost to councils and if the tenant boxes clever and says vague issues such as “room is not big enough to be deemed a bedroom” rather than it is 48 sq/ft or if they say they have a higher bedroom need due to disability or room is needed for other purposes then council will have to come out and inspect such disputed cases. Huge huge cost to councils

  2. During the recent House of Commons debate on the bedroom tax an MP revealed that under UC bereaved people will only have three months instead of a year before they have to pay for what will be treated as a “spare room”. This is shocking as the one-year concession was only granted after lobbying by and on behalf of families affected, especially those who had lost a child.

  3. Hi Joe I have recently discovered you. Your work and all the information is fantastic. It is very empowering. Today I have spoken to and passed on your link to some of the media/newspapers and many councillors. I have spoken to Shelter and the citizens advice about your work. They are going to pass it on and try and get in touch with you. Thank you very much for all your information. The world needs people like you.

  4. Room size – Ceiling Height:

    This might be useful for anyone challenging room size for an alleged bedroom which is a loft conversion or is in an attic / dorma space.

    Obviously there should never be access to a ‘bedroom’ via a loft ladder – that would not be within the building regs for a bedroom anyway, so if you have to access a ‘bedroom’ via a loft ladder, whis could be illegal!
    However, The Building Regulations state that there is a minimum ceiling height for the space above the stairs leading up to the loft area.

    So, if your alledged bedroom is too small by celing height, then you may be able to challenge on these grounds.

    “There is no minimum ceiling height to meet the Building Regulations, other than above stairs, which require 2m of clear headroom. For a loft conversion this can be reduced to 1.9m at the centre of the flight and 1.8m at the edges to allow for sloping roofs.

    The minimum practical ceiling height is 1.9m, but often attic rooms incorporate areas with sloping ceilings that are still usable for seating, bed heads, storage etc.”

    Full info about builfing regs can be viewed by PDF here:
    http://www.fdean.gov.uk/media/Assets/Planning-BC/documents/approved%20documents/DOMESTIC_LOFT_CONVERSION_GUIDANCE_EDITION_4.pdf

Please leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s