The Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research (CCHPR) issued the log awaited and long delayed bedroom tax evaluation report and it forms 169 pages of distorted sanitised shite (DSS – how apt!)
Even on its own web page in promoting this report we see the author say:
“The RSRS affects a third of working-age tenants on housing benefit – a tenth of the whole social sector. This is a huge amount of people affected compared to other welfare reforms such as the benefit cap, which – thus far – has been tiny in comparison,” said Clarke.
…and in doing so doubles the real impact of those affected which is just one glaring error and glaring example of how it distorts the bedroom tax.
(Poster from a March 2013 bedroom tax rally in Liverpool)
At November 2014 – the end of this report – there were 4,883,485 claimants of housing benefit and 3,293,549 claimants in social housing – the only ones who can be affected by the bedroom tax as Table 4 of the official figures shows.
If we than look at Table 9a from the November 2014 official figures (Fig 2 below) we see that there are only 1,279,632 HB claimants not of working age. This means there were 3,603,853 HB claimants of working-age in both the social rented sector and the private rented sector.
We see from Fig 1 above that there were 1,587,669 PRS tenants claiming HB so even if we assume that 100% of pensioners claiming housing benefit lived in social housing then the absolute minimum number of working-age social tenants claiming housing benefit is 2,016,184 [3,603,853 minus 1,587,669 total PRS claimants]
Yet this distorted sanitised report says 465,000 social households were hit by the bedroom tax which is 23% – and I remind that is the maximum percentage figure and assumes ALL pensioners claiming HB live in social housing which of course they do not – and says the bedroom tax affects a third of working-age tenants on housing benefit!
The issue is not just simple basic arithmetic however it is the assertion that the bedroom tax affects 1 in 3 social tenants which suggest that 1 in 3 social tenants under occupy a social property and IDS will jump all over this fundamentally flawed assertion from the highly respected CCHPR – I mean who dares to question what Cambridge University research says!!
Statistically of the near 3.3 social tenants claiming housing benefit there will be 2.2 million who are of working age and so the 465,000 bedroom tax affected figure will be 1 in 5 and not 1 in 3 as this flawed report says or affect 40% less social tenants than it claims which is a huge distortion.
The rest of the report – which I have only scanned – is notable for WHAT IT FAILS TO LOOK AT rather than what it does. Here are a few examples: –
- The DWP estimated the bedroom tax would affect 660,000 social tenant households yet the first figures for it show it affected 547,000 which is a huge 113,000 households fewer than the DWP estimated
- One consequence of this given the average HB cut of £790 per year is that this means the claimed savings figures which Government always cite as a key rationale for the bedroom tax are at least £90 million per year less than they wished for.
- Moreover as IDS and Freud and Harper and McVey and Webb have all stated in Parliament the bedroom tax saves £500m per year then how can 465,00 lots of £790 which is £367 million equal £500 million?
- The report fails to even enquire about the bedroom tax appeal process or give any number of households who have appealed
- I can say that there are probably more grassroots anti-bedroom tax groups in Merseyside alone who have taken more appeals than all of the CABx in the country that this report looks to for comment on the nature of the advice need. Each bedroom tax appeal is so time-consuming that CABx simply do not do them and so again we see the impact and demand this has on advice services being totally misrepresented in this report!
- The report fails to mention that the numbers who have ‘downsized’ are less then the number of social tenants who move in any of the ten years before the bedroom tax was introduced.
- The report conflates those moving which is a normal pre-existing issue with bedroom tax downsizers
- The report in discussing social landlords fails to mention that the arrears risk of the bedroom tax was mitigated by at least a factor of 5 as social landlords increased income using the affordable rent model during the survey period.
- In short 5 times more income from AR than lost through bedroom tax yet this does not figure into any discussion of social landlord responses!
However the paucity of the research leads to woefully generic and inadequate assumptions made as fact and the classic example is how CCHPR themselves promote this report on its own website which opens: –
Research commissioned by government following housing benefit reforms finds increase in tenants self-selecting to downsize, but the areas hardest hit by reform are those least equipped with appropriate housing stock.
“…Finds increase in tenants self-selecting to downsize…” – is factually nonsense and there is no evidence at all of an increase in tenants downsizing.
For that statement to have any validity at all is HAS to be compared to tenants ‘downsizing’ in years prior to the bedroom tax policy yet there is no such comparator as this was never recorded previously and there is no evidence at all of ‘downsizing’ prior to the bedroom tax! That ‘finding is nothing more than opinion and a distorted and political opinion and an example of paid research allegedly finding the political spin hypothesis that DWP wanted.
“…the areas hardest hit by reform are those least equipped with appropriate housing stock…” is a similarly woeful and inaccurate finding.
Despite 169 pages and despite the time involved and public purse cost involved this report fails to even say where the hardest hit areas are, and when it does mention ‘areas’ it says in the widest vague terms the North East and Wales – which even happen NOT to be the areas hardest hit by the bedroom tax in any case and even on a regional basis!!
In November 2014 the worst affected area in the North East was County Durham with 21.02% of SRS HB claimants affected each having a cut of £11.83 per week and he worst affected area in Wales was Blaenau Gwent with 24.82% affected at an average £12.17 per week cut. YET Liverpool had 22.34% affected at £14.50 per week so higher in both percentage terms and cut terms and the worst affected area in percentage terms was Copeland in the NW with 30.73% affected at £14.65 per week cut.
The ridiculously generic ‘area’ being a region in this report hides so many crucial factors such as the massively different stock profiles of landlords in those areas which vary dramatically in all regions and within regions (so inter and intraregionally) and even within each local authority area – and then vary some more even by landlord within each local authority area. Below for example is a stock profile of one such social landlord in 7 neighbouring council areas:
Look at how radically different the social landlord stock profile is in each area – and area here is a local authority level. That is just one landlord and a housing association who work in over 60 local authority areas.
That hugely variable issue is just one reason that affects bedroom tax and downsizing and there are so many more reasons other than stock availability for not downsizing which this report fails to even consider let alone discuss. One of them being affected tenants not allowed to downsize due to arrears and another one being downsizing could mean having to move literally to the next valley if in Wales or 100 miles away if in Cornwall and many many more issues not discussed.
The report fails to discuss when mentioned DHPs for bedroom tax whether the areas of the cohorts saw local authorities with much greater demands (eg benefit cap if in London or even LHA caps) and in relation to social landlord responses if fails to comment on just how 52% of tenants knowing about DHPs factors into landlords being prepared for the bedroom tax or preparing for their tenants.
The report fails to say anything about the pre 1996 bedroom tax cock-up normally called a loophole which we know affected 40,000 households and the DWP said would affect 5,000 at most. Just another example of how sanitised this report is as well as it being 12 months out of date and it woefully errant assertions as to numbers affected, downsizing, worst affected areas and so on and so forth.
I could easily draft 100 page of rebuttal to this report and the errors of fact and analysis it has yet this is all we will ever get now and this report also fails to mention that the bedroom tax policy actually INCREASES the housing benefit spend as the IFS figures from March 2015 and my figures from November 2014 actually reveal.
This report in summary is a charade and fails to discuss so many areas of the bedroom tax policy and of its impacts. Even when it does cover areas it is so riddled with huge factual inaccuracies and CSE grade inept analyses to be wholly meaningless.
It also uses the oldest trick in the book – issue a report of such length that so few will ever read the method employed, the data considered and not considered and simply focus on a few headline bullet points and even they are so full or errors making this 169 pages of distorted and sanitised shite!
This report (sic) is here
and is not even worthy of a footnote!