Did you know it is lawful under Universal Credit for a social landlord to take 100% of your dole of £73.10 per week and leave a tenant with nothing per week to pay for Council Tax, Gas, Electric, Water Rates, Travel Costs, Telephone and even Food?
In Universal Credit your landlord can request 20% of your standard UC allowance of £73.10 and also request your bedroom tax of 25% which can mean the tenant is left with no money whatsoever and I mean absolutely bugger all money.
- 25% bedroom tax on a 3 bed affordable (sic) of £233.92 or more per week is £58.48 per week
- 20% of the standard UC payment of £73.10 per week is £14.62
- Together they make £73.10 per week and leave the tenant with no money whatsoever
Inside Housing ran the article yet failed to mention the above and indeed they entitled it ” Landlords use little-known regulation to swerve bedroom tax” when they could and should have called it …
Landlords say tough shit tenant we are getting our money!
The article even had the Chartered Institute of Housing saying:
Sam Lister, policy and practice officer at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said the regulation gave landlords an alternative to chasing tenants for additional rent.
And a (purported) social landlord saying they will use it:
Manchester association Mosscare said it intended to use it to obtain shortfalls caused by the bedroom tax “as a last resort” in order to avoid costly court eviction costs
What the Chartered Institute of Housing and a Manchester based alleged social landlord with circa 5000 homes appear to think is acceptable to do and have stated they WILL do, that is take every penny off a tenant and leave them absolutely bugger all each week to live on is incredulously lawful! It is also a bloody outrage they are even contemplating such a move and such a move is lawful.
The Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (Claims and Payments) Regulations 2013 is where this is contained
Payment to another person on the claimant’s behalf
58 (1) The Secretary of State may direct that universal credit be paid wholly or in part to another person on the claimant’s behalf if this appears to the Secretary of State necessary to protect the interests of—
(a) the claimant;
(b) their partner;
(c) a child or qualifying young person for whom the claimant or their partner or both are responsible; or
(d) a severely disabled person, where the calculation of the award of universal credit includes, by virtue of regulation 29 of the Universal Credit Regulations, an amount in respect of the fact that the claimant has regular and substantial caring responsibilities for that severely disabled person.
This regulation is intended for a very different set of purposes. For example if the claimant was a male perpetrator of domestic abuse you can see good reason why the UC claim can be paid to the victim / survivor and her children who have fled; or it can be paid to someone other than the claimant such as a carer or appointee if the claimant is ‘deemed’ not to be responsible enough because of a lack of capacity.
The social (ahem!) landlord head of finance?
I strongly doubt this regulation was drafted to allow an allegedly ‘social’ landlord to take every penny off a tenant and leave them absolutely nothing whatsoever to live on. Yet as the article says some asocial landlords are using this already and saying f*ck you tenant we are getting our money!
The welfare reforms have seen some outrageous practices from some landlords whether doorstepping tenants and saying they have a right of entry to conduct a means assessment on the social tenant to the disgraceful letter(s) of Knowsley Housing Trust saying pay your rent or social services will take the children.
Yet this beats them all and it is time to name and shame the CIH and Mosscare and Inside Housing (for overly avoiding this issue) and not forgetting the National Housing Federation who lobbied for the Alternative Payment Arrangement to be 20% of the basis JSA when now it is just 5% being the maximum arrears figure which can be deducted from welfare benefits.
Social my arse!
If anyone knows of other landlords operating in this outrageous way please let me know (in the strictest confidence) and I will be only too glad to name and shame them.
Can any social tenant possibly trust their landlord any more?
No they regrettably can’t and they must now see their landlord as their enemy because of the actions of social landlords. It pains me to write that as many social landlords corporately and individually do have empathy for the social tenant plight and that is what truly social housing is all about. Yet there is a decidedly asocial attitude amongst a growing number of private registered providers (aka HA’s) and social tenants simply cannot afford to trust any landlord any longer.
The social housing model is predicated on a symbiotic relationship of trust between landlord and tenant and (some) landlord are doing their utmost to ensure their own downfall and sustainability by shafting the social tenant.
It is time social tenants created their own independently funded, assertive and very proactive movement to use the latent power that over 4 million ‘customers’ can collectively wield against those landlords – egged on by CIH and NHF and IH – who have no idea what the word social means.
That would truly scare the shit out of these self-assured Masters of the Universe and it is very very much needed – any thoughts on that in confidence you know how to find me too.
Regrettably too, it is what these landlords and the social (sic) housing sector deserve!
The offensive Inside Housing article is below (click to enlarge)
UPDATE – This received a few discussions on Twitter so a look at some questions raised. I do so after a number of cases I have been personally involved with in the North West where UC has had far more of a roll out than in the rest of the UK.
Q) Who deems UC deductions to be in the best interests?
A) A DWP clerical officer
Q) How much are the deductions?
A) There are two rates of 10% or 20% of the standard amount and note here that the typical £3.70 per week a judge orders and what landlords seek at court is 5%. So either double or quadruple what a court will award!
The vast majority of the DWP clerical officers were unaware that there are two rates and ALL of them assumed the higher 20% rate from the outset. Only when they were informed of this did they go and ‘speak with a manager’ to confirm this!
Q) When are deductions made and when are they paid to the landlord?
The deductions are taken from the monthly payment of the tenant yet may not be sent to the landlord for up to 3 months. This is a huge issue as tenant statements will NOT show the amounts that have been deducted as they have not yet reached the landlord. Any housing officers and legal personnel will see the huge legal mess this creates as the money has been taken from the tenant yet has not been paid to the landlord so what is the official arrears position of the tenant in law?!
Q) How likely is a single person to have a 25% bedroom tax deduction?
Far more common than you would first imagine. It has always been known anecdotally that many bedroom taxed households are middle-aged persons who have brought up children in the family home and those children have now fled the coop. Statistically we can see:
- 36% of all social housing properties are 3 bed or larger (EHS)
- We know there are 456,959 households affected by the bedroom tax (DWP)
- We are told that 19% of bedroom tax households have a 25% deduction (DWP)
- We know from HB data that 51% of HB claimants have no dependant children (DWP)
- We know that 73% of all HB claimants are headed by single persons (DWP)
Extrapolate the above and this gives 32,324 HB households – or 32,324 too many that could be affected by this.
IF a 20% APA is applied (£14.62) which is ‘standard’ and the landlord seeks the 25% bedroom tax on a £100 per week property (£25.00) then this is an amount of £39.62 per week and 54% of the £73.10 per week JSA going to the landlord and leaves the tenant just £33.48 per week or £4.78 per day on which to live.
There are a huge number of legal cases that can spring from the above as many have already stated yet the problem is this should not have been allowed to happen in the first place and the drafting of this is severely deficient and just one of many huge cock ups in Universal Credit policy theory and actual practice.
IDS may well say these are teething troubles as you would expect with any new system though leaving a person with zero income cannot be said to be a teething problem – except those to whom it happens would rightly want to smash IDS’s teeth out!
The fact some landlords HAVE ALREADY used this is an outrage and naming and shaming is simply not enough for these vermin.
Another piece of practice that has emerged is that the tenant is NOT informed of these deductions prior to them coming out and is only told after the fact. Just another outrage and fundamental flaw in UC theory and practice. After the fact – but ONLY after the fact – the tenant (claimant) can call UC and argue that the deduction is unreasonable, though quite how with likely no telephone credit is another matter.
Social landlords predictably and rightly came out and said they have to protect their income. Yet how many social landlords are aware of the practices of their income officers? About as many as were aware their officers were doorstepping tenants in the early days of the bedroom tax perhaps? Landlords through the APA in UC are receiving a minimum of double what a judge awards now and typically quadruple the arrears payment.
To then seek even more is a huge question yet as we can see in the article the CIH seem to think this is perfectly fine and that simply shows that landlords have been given the ok to adopt the I’m alright Jack bugger you tenant approach by the CIH.
Landlords HAVE ALREADY lost the trust of the social tenant and they simply do not realise how grave this is for their business model
However the main concern here is that these life-changing decisions are being made by low paid clerical staff at the DWP who have more powers than a court!
We have already seen in the last week or so that (a) as UC numbers approach 1% the waiting time for the first payment has increased from 35 days to 44 days; (b) DWP staff are woefully trained; and (c) stressed out already coping with a system that is creaking while handling just 1% of the total amount of claims it was introduced to deal with!
Can you imagine what it will be like when UC really begins to roll out?