The DWP released official projections on all benefits with the 2015 budget and there are tables and tables of data to pore over.
Given the huge speculation over the £12 billion of welfare cuts – and note extremely well the term welfare cuts has always been used not welfare benefit cuts – these tables I have looked at again and they hold plenty of nasty surprises for social housing.
These data tables are very revealing and I will probably draft many posts from them.
For example, while we already knew the DHP budget this year has been reduced to £125 million from £165 million, itself a fall of 24%, the DWP projections have this falling by a further £40 million next year down to £85 million or roughly half of the 2014/15 figure.
So just as we see the bedroom tax being joined by the far greater cuts of the benefit cap (and even speculation that all HB claimants will get a 10% cut) the mitigation in DHP is going to reduce by almost 50%!
Here is Table 3a from those figures and I have emphasised the DHP figure. (Click on to enlarge)
In Table 2b of the same we see a slightly more accurate picture as this is in real terms and shows a greater reduction of DHP allocations to local councils at a time when bedroom tax will increase due to rent inflation and especially as the benefit cap reduction will give a huge transfer of cost from central to local government.
Note that my projection of the reduction in the benefit cap to £23k per year which gave an additional £2.68 billion cost to local government was in the first full year. Yet as the cap figure will at best remain a constant and rents will increase the cuts and ensuing homeless cost to local government will rise each year of this parliament.
In real terms the DWP forecast just a £82 million allocation in 2019/20 when last financial year 2014/15 it was more than double this at £165 million.
A few months back I stated that DHPs will massively swing away from bedroom tax purposes to benefit cap purposes as LAs seek to reduce eviction and their own increased costs of homelessness. That still holds yet given that DHP in real terms will halve over the parliament the likelihood is that next financial year 2016/17 the DHP for bedroom tax purposes will be as rare as hen’s teeth.
The bedroom tax affected tenant who now has a DHP will no longer receive one
The social landlords who have relied upon bedroom tax DHPs – nearly £81m was given in 2013/14 for bedroom tax DHPs – will see a further £81 million of arrears risk on top of the current level.
Right now social landlords have a conveyor belt of bedroom tax related evictions just waiting to be switched on – a backlog of evictions they have held back on awaiting the outcome of the general election. They are not saying this of course yet it is there and especially in the hardest hit areas of the county such as the North West and in Wales generally and in much of the North East too. Yet there is no doubt such evictions are waiting to go.
The realisation that DHPs for bedroom tax will disappear will see a huge surge in bedroom tax related evictions taking place.
The only saving grace in that is the Supreme Court hearing of MA & Ors in March 2016. In brief the bedroom tax has been found to be discriminatory to disabled persons (definition to be defined) yet permissible because of the availability of DHPs to mitigate.
Yet as a DHP for bedroom tax purposes will be as rare as hen’s teeth then surely that must play a significant part in the Supreme Court’s judgment. Then again relying on the courts for bedroom tax succour and especially by way of judicial review…the less said about that the better
The bedroom tax which is now in its 116th week of an average £15.26 per week cut in 2015/16 figures or £796 per year has another 254 weeks to go until the next general election is going to see many tens of thousands of bedroom tax households evicted.
The expected massive cuts to DHP budgets and their virtual abolition for bedroom tax cases may well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for bedroom tax evictions.