May General Election and why the bedroom tax will NOT be abolished

The bedroom tax will NOT be abolished in May at the General Election. Neither will the overall benefit cap and other welfare reform (sic) policies and the cuts will continue with a devastating affect on social housing, on the ‘benefit tenant’ and on the low paid worker.

It also means that efforts to challenge the bedroom tax need to be ramped up considerably and especially by landlords supporting tenants to review and appeal the bedroom tax decisions which makes financial and good business sense for tenant and landlord.

Ladbrokes have put out today their estimate of the number of seats each party will receive in May 2015:

ladbrokes general election

A majority is 326 of the 650 seats and becomes the magic figure.

Ladbrokes like any bookmaker is rarely that far out in any estimate and so an outright majority for the Tories or Labour would appear unlikely as both parties would need a 20% increase from now till may to achieve that and so a coalition appears inevitable.

It is perhaps too simple to see SNP (39) aligning with Labour (278) to give 317 in total yet that is still short of a majority and an uneasy alliance too not least because Labour led the ‘No’ campaign in the Scottish Independence referendum.

The current Tory / Lib Dem coalition would see 305 and 21 seats short of a majority and many will be surprised that UKIP polling at 18% or so will only realise 5 seats and so UKIP is an irrelevance in terms of electoral seats.

You can permutate the many variables above anyway you like but it is looking hugely odds-on that another coalition government will be in place after May and with some very flimsy alliances too making another election perhaps inevitable pretty soon after this and similar to 1974 with the February and October General Elections that year.

A Tory / Lib Dem / Ulster Unionist and UKIP coalition is still not enough and an unworkable alliance in any case, unreliable in that it could never survive and would be too much of a cobbling together that was rife for no confidence votes at the drop of a hat.  A Labour / SNP / Green / Plaid Cymru  / Sinn Fein  alliance is precisely the same unreliable coalition.  The only slightly more viable alliance and coalition is Lab / SNP / Lib Dem yet given that Labour also lobbied for a No vote in the Scottish independence referendum this too is unlikely to be stable and reliable.

While the political parties vie for alliances and power the welfare reform policies will continue and apace. Austerity, that euphemism for cuts, will continue and those cuts such as the reduction in the overall benefit cap – which is hugely popular with the electorate at 70% approval rating – will happen and shaft the social housing model and the ‘benefit tenant’ and low paid worker even further.

Social housing will be up to its eyes in the brown smelly stuff when this does happen.  The social housing model is radically threatened by it and both the social tenant and social landlords are in that brown smelly stuff.

Family sizes of 2 parent 3 children and above will be evicted if they are not in work (unemployed, sick, disabled and note ESA working group are included in the benefit cap) yet they will have nowhere to live except in incredibly expensive ‘temporary’ homeless accommodation that will become permanent provision and cost the welfare benefit spend so much more.

Social landlords will be unable and unwilling to allocate a property to such households sizes are they are a financial risk too far to arrears.  The social tenant households of 2 parents and 3 children or 1 parent and 4 children ANYWHERE IN THE UK and not just London will have nowhere to live as they cannot afford social housing and social housing cannot afford them.

The detail of this benefit cap reduction is here and while social landlords state the usual platitudes of we hope for the best but plan for the worst, they remain hugely blase and frankly ignorant of the radical change the benefit cap reduction will mean for the social housing model. They need to be shaken out of the naive and errant view that the benefit cap only affects the private tenant in high rent areas such as London.  That is utter baloney as the figures demonstrate.

What this will also means is that more social housing evictions will inevitably take place and that will sour the already strained landlord to tenant relationship created by the bedroom tax.  This is a huge issue and again one that social landlords have paid far too little attention.  The worsening landlord perception by the tenant is not to be taken lightly as it is now; rather it needs to become THE highest priority for landlord once direct payments rolls out.  The greater the negative perception the tenant has of the landlord the lower paying rent becomes as a tenant priority – and especially as all other debt tends to incur interest payments unlike rent arrears.  And of course note well it is the tenants perception that matter whether the landlord is at fault or not.

Over the past year I have been advising the more enlightened landlords and their tenant groups to challenge the bedroom tax decisions.  This has produced positive results and is very good business sense for social landlords to fund and support and especially so given the Fife Upper Tribunal ruling which said the landlords view is a mere starting point and the local council’s HB decision makers have to consider ALL relevant circumstances on a case by case basis and not as they have done to date, impose the bedroom tax in a blanket fashion based solely on the landlords view.

Aside from tenants winning at First-tier Tribunals we have seen councils change decisions far more readily and agree that many tenants for example need an overnight carer and they reduce or take away the bedroom tax completely.  In just one week alone councils have reviewed and changed decisions in 13 cases meaning that the tenants and landlords receive over £10,000 per year more in HB payments and that is from councils who before tenants began to challenge would not entertain a review of the decision unless the landlords reclassified – and that is just another unlawful decision of many councils in the bedroom tax too as it denies the tenants absolute right to a review of any HB decision.

In a month or so the 2015/16 bedroom tax decisions will land on the mats of social tenants.  Again these will have been made WITHOUT taking into consideration any potentially relevant circumstances and will NOT have been taken on an individual case by case basis that the UT said was the intention of parliament in this policy and which all councils have to abide by.

In short the Fife UT ruling should see a huge increase in the number of tenants asking for a full statement of reasons from their council as to how they made the bedroom tax decisions AND then tenants following this up by asking their council to review and reconsider its decision which will mean that councils will have to come out and inspect properties in many case.  Both of these challenges will cost every council huge amounts in cost and other resources and then further cost when the tenants disagree with their councils review decision and launch a formal appeal to the FtT.

It has always made sense for landlords to fund and support these challenges as not only do landlords benefit in the immediate term, they will benefit massive in the longer term as tenants will prioritise the payment of rent when direct payment of Housing Benefit goes to the tenant and not directly to the landlord as it does now.

The fact that now the bedroom tax is unlikely to be abolished in May and that the proposed reduction in the benefit cap will happen means that social landlords would be frankly stupid not to support their tenants.  It is so much of a no-brainer that even the CIH who have long rejected the bedroom tax appeals now say social landlords should be supporting their tenants to do precisely that. Further as I reported here winning a bedroom tax challenge, at review or appeal will save every tenant and landlord an average of over £4000 over the next 5 years

In summary, all of those landlords who hope for the bedroom tax to be abolished and all the tenants too need to think and be prepared to take action to get rid of it through increasing the pressure on the system by challenging it by way of review and appeal and both need to wake up out of the delusion that the Labour party will have a majority in May or will form a lasting coalition either.

____________________________________

PS – The current state of the parties is as below for thse keen to see all the permutations of any alliance or coalition and note well that ‘other’ with 23 projected seats includes all the parties in Northern Ireland, The Green Party, Plaid Cymru, and the odd independent who may win on a local issue such as a hospital closure as happened last time.  A reliable working government cannot be formed with the myriad of issues and egos that will produce.

The only saving grace from this seat projection is to show just how insignificant UKIP and Farage are

 

 

Party Seats
Conservative 303
Labour 257
Liberal Democrat 56
Democratic Unionist 8
Scottish National 6
Sinn Fein 5
Independent 3
Plaid Cymru 3
Social Democratic & Labour Party 3
UK Independence Party 2
Alliance 1
Green 1
Respect 1
Speaker 1
Total number of seats 650

 

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21 thoughts on “May General Election and why the bedroom tax will NOT be abolished

  1. I believe poverty is going to become the biggest issue in the UK this year, given that all the main parties have agreed that austerity measures will continue after the election. However none have or are willing to deal with the bankers who caused the crash, according to Mark Carney (Governor of the Bank of England) or the debt, except to add to it.

    So far only 30% of cuts which are apparently required to balance the budget deficit (according to George Osborne) have been introduced. The rest will be after the election. These cuts will have a catastrophic effect on the living standards of the 60% of people in the UK who work and claim benefits.

    The lucky ones will have a choice of whether they eat or heat their homes, but the vast majority will potentially be hungry and homeless.

    This will continue for as long as the people allow it and eventually the UK will have no choice but to follow Iceland’s lead and reclaim sovereignty.

  2. If Labour and left leaning parties form an alliance (which I can see would be highly unstable) why wouldn’t they abolish the bedroom tax?
    Except for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, mainland UK parties are uniformly against the bedroom tax, and in favour of abolishing it. Given that it is one of the few policies about which they are united, why would they not implement it?
    The economic costs of the bedroom tax – evictions, broken families etc will soon rise beyond the cost of abolishing the bedroom tax and paying tenants unreduced rent.

    1. The bedroom tax has made the housing benefit bill soar…and is predicted to cost an additional £27 Billion by 2017 …it’s totally unworkable. People paying full rent and pensioners are not encouraged to ‘downsize’ ….it’s targeted at mainly single people/ single parents and the disabled in receipt of housing benefit. If the government are so desperate for houses to ease overcrowding ….they should encourage EVERYONE in the social sector to move to a house more suitable for their needs. Iain duncan Smith realised he couldn’t cap the benefits on the disabled…so took the money off them by introducing this ludicrous tax instead! I know as I’m paying it and we received another eviction threat this week

    1. @Pam Sampson – quote “The bedroom tax will NOT be abolished in May at the General Election. Neither will the overall benefit cap and other welfare reform (sic) policies and the cuts will continue with a devastating affect on social housing, on the ‘benefit tenant’ and on the low paid worker.”

      1. Correct we differ on this Pat and the Lib Dems are NOT against it in principle as many wrongly believe, they want to tinker with it and only apply when no property to downsize to (which will cost more to administer and is unworkable) and the SNP have alreadt decided the bedroom tax is defunct in Scotland by agreeing to pay everyone a DHP. The SNP therefore have little reason to make Labour look good and agree to get rid of it. In summary I cannot see Labour getting a majority at all and so that is why I say the bedroom tax will continue…and why we have to redouble our efforts to appeal and challenge and NOT be lured into false hope believing Labour will win the election with a majority

      2. @Joehalewood & @Pam Sampson

        Re – Joe – I’ve been trying to get some to see the light as regards Labour but sadly they just don’t seem to be able to accept that their ideas might not become reality !!

        Re – Pam – indeed and my post is as it’s been for sometime now it’s NOT changed in a number of years, my opinion on this being that for a growing list of historical reasons and more and more new cock-ups the chances of Labour winning outright we know won’t happen as for in some sort of coalition sadly that might be a reality but Won’t ensure BT is stopped until it’s physically done, how can you be so sure? History dictates how unreliable the three big groups are, thankfully my beliefs remain with SNP where most of the important promises have been carried out likes of prescriptions, CT, BT (DHP) and others that I can’t recall at present (brain fog) I would and have voted SNP for a few years now and shall continue to seeing them as a far better choice for the future of at least Scotland, Alex Salmond is a far from finished just watch this space…….. And all should beware as Nicola Sturgeon is a force to be reckoned with, without a shadow of a doubt, just a shame we by a small margin lost our referendum, still not to worry we will get it again and shall win this time, come GE time I know that the whole of Scotland will be awash with the yellow of SNP and certainly NOT the red of Labour which as short a time ago as the last GE IT was Labour wins throughout Scotland but as the third largest party now that just won’t happen this time, at least promises made are kept! Can the top two say with any conviction this ? Well we all know the answer to that one don’t we, reality shall strike home very soon now, and I know with out a doubt I shall NOT be disappointed with the results, but equally know a few that will equally be the exact opposite —–

      3. We all have our opinions and a right to them. Some of us will be right others not. I just dont wish to see false hope being given to the near half a million households still affected by this pernicious policy

      4. @joehalewood – You and I both, I have strived to allow this in even balance throughout my various groups and communities, however as you know it’s been a somewhat upwards struggle from its start, it’s NOT as far as I am concerned a situation of who is right nor wrong in much the same way as your own reasoning, I am sure you like myself have been brought to task for “your opinions” as have I, BUT also just like yourself I totally refuse to mislead users, send users off in the wrong direction, what we tend to do still years later (against numerous loudmouths, no alls, and others ) is supply our users with the facts, allow them to make up their minds, utalising all the factual information given (all varifiable from reliable sources such as your good selves 🙂 ) and then we support, the choices made until the user is happy.
        Sadly to many Admins and Mods are NOT so well versed and tend to make matters far worse, so that by the time they get to your or my grp the hackles are already raised, seeking a fight, but in that state I’m afraid I will openly admit that my groups have been advised to NOT try to help, advise nor guide in that instance at least until they are able too at the very least respect the other users and staff, we put our whole
        Heart and soul into it every single answer we provide.
        Like you an reputation is made without knowing any of us??? (by telly-portation I believe!) in this instance and nothing binding can be carried out In this instance they would be politely asked to return when sober, when not wishing to fight or such like, but again much like your blogs that must have assisted 100’s if not 1000’s of users, as have we over the many years, giving of all our free-time, our knowledge and our help. And support all for no recompense, however that not being what it’s all about it matters not.
        If given the chance to help, support, guide or forward for more specialised help regardless I and my Mods would all regardless still rise to the challenge.
        Likewise no matter the winners of the GE, we shall still come out smiling regardless of the outcome why? Quite simply my I party SNP will at present be unlikely to win outright thus we really have a pre election suggested outcome and path already suggested however the excitement for is shall be Bourne out of just how many “extra” seats we gain and how many we hold onto, as the now third largest party we could make a great deal of difference to one or other party Wishing to form a coilition that’s a foregone conclusion at least we’re NOT living in cloud coo-coo land frankly…… Let’s hope the powers that be don’t operate in the shame way, that said it’s pretty clear sadly that many do, I remain with you on the supposed outcome of the GE come May !

  3. ‘Lost by a small margin’? – a full 10%? Oh dear. The SNP are *hoping* Labour will form a coalition with them – Im hoping they won’t! They are only concerned about Scotland and we are the United Kingdom – like it or not! How many referendums do you want, to get the result you want? SNP in Government will be very bad for the rest of the UK – in my humble opinion. I did not say Labour *will* get a majority – I said I hope they do, so they can scrap the bedroom tax!

  4. it doesnt matter if people have won on size in the bedroom tax battle as the FTTs are making up excuses/reasons to overturn wins, to get rehearings or take to UT on any premise where the fife UT rulings can then be used to kill off any successes. after a long long battle i have given up and am going to do my utmost to get out of the stupid plus tiny boxroom house and into a 2 bed.

  5. It’s rather offensive to have ‘a dig’ at Admins on groups that are trying to help Tenants with appealing the BT. When there are thousands of people to help, all we can do is point people in the right direction. Provide information and support… We may not get it right every time… But, yes, we are giving our time freely. Often, when we are ill, ourselves. We can only do our best. And, have helped many, many, to gain exemption. So, that speaks for it’s self………….

    Regarding the GE. The main issue is to get this existing government out.
    The harm they have caused to people, including the most vulnerable, will go down in history…..

    IF, you live in Scotland….. you are ‘lucky’, in respect of the BT. Being exempt, by claiming a DHP.
    Not so, for the rest of the country. Where it can be a postcode lottery, to get a DHP.

    RE: The SNP. Why should Scotland, decide what happens in the rest of the country?? When, their focus is on Scotland.

  6. Hear hear Debbie! What a strange comment from :Dougie Mcpherson – after all he was the one telling his group it is pointless APPEALING – as well as stating the pre 1996 exemption was nonsense!!! Now all of a sudden, he’s saying he and Joe think the same! The mind boggles!

  7. Just to clarify I did not say that i always agreed carte Blanche however I have 100% agreed regarding the not misleading users and the stuff about Labour and of course today’s subject!! Agreed I got it wrong on the occasion of the pre 96 loophole breaking on a Saturday night if I recall. From which I had FOUR fellow Admins researching and in line with my not misleading users I wont issue info or advice based on any matters I can’t substantiate that being one of them, not long after the likes of “Muslims prayer rooms” and several others that as suspected were total BS hence our reluctance to say anything other than it was UNLIKELY and besides it was a loophole (that’s all we could find out for sure) and like I had said it didn’t last very long and helped very few that said fair play a wins a win and that got a few.
    As for telling users THE TRUTH about DHP as per the Govs own guidance docs whereby it was strongly suggested that payments were made ONLY to LT. disabled where they were in adapted homes that were NOT able to be replaced/rehoused and what have they done?? Exactly almost that!! Not my fault that South of the border LAs choose NOT to do so where as the largest LA in Scotland did that just so happens to be my LA and the party I am a member of and who are doing a great deal of what they have promised, are you trying to tell me that if it were Labour having already done this you wouldn’t be letting all know?? (Come on be truthful) and of course the SNPs interests lie in Scotland and the life’s of all Scots there-in that’s why they are and historically have been the SNP Scottish National Party looking after Scotland…….. (A job I may add they do pretty godam am well by all acounts)
    And to conclude I take massive exception at once again getting bombarded with non truths, mistrusts and exaggerated rubbish about both myself personally and my groups strange according to yourself and Debbie & Co I am this spreader of rubbish, this whatever you’ve choosen to lay at my door this week? Yet my groups still today helping to ease the burden on tenants up and down the country which was after all my aim.

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