Pensioners back-door bedroom tax is Tory policy

Not only will the Government’s LHA maxima policy close all DV refuges and homeless hostels it will also be the pensioners bedroom tax!

The LHA maxima policy announced in the Autumn Statement and confirmed in DWP written answers last week to apply to ALL social tenants limits the amount ANY social housing tenant can get to the local housing allowance or LHA rate for their housing need and a 1 bed housing need sees the 1 bed LHA rate paid even if you live in a 5 bed house.

There are hundreds of thousands of pensioners who have brought up their families there and their children flown the coop and they are exempt from the bedroom tax yet they will be caught by the LHA maxima policy…and I as reveal below with a greater HB cut than the bedroom tax gives for working-age households!

pensionerpurse

The single pensioner or pensioner couple who live in a 3 bed will get in:

  • Hull £69.73pw max HB with a social rent of £98.38 is a £28.65pw shortfall which the pensioner will need to make up and a yearly cut of £1,493. This equates to a 29.12% cut and higher than the bedroom tax.
  • Dover £72.72pw max HB with a social rent of £102.77 is a £30.05pw shortfall which the pensioner will need to make up and a yearly cut of £1,566. This equates to a 29.24% cut and higher than the bedroom tax.

The rent figures above are all taken from the official housing regulator figures and are for social rent not the affordable (sic) rent model and the LHA figures are the official figures too.

The figures reveal a national issue although the North West, North East, East Midlands and York & Humber regions are affected right across as are many places in the West Midlands and East Anglia too.

When I said yesterday that the LHA maxima cut is a £4.944 billion HB cut to social tenants in this Parliament I had not included these figures and so that cut will be significantly increased as official figures show there are more under occupying pensioner households than the working-age households under occupying and hit with the bedroom tax.

This  could easily be a further £1.2 billion HB cut over this Parliament to add to the £4.944 billion figure for supported and sheltered housing.  It could be much higher and frankly is near impossible to estimate as there are too many variables.

The real issue here is a political one for Government and not an economic one for landlords and tenants.

Pensioners have been exempted from the bedroom tax policy for obvious political sensibility reasons such as the grey vote, yet also because they cannot work a few more hours and because it is unacceptable for them to take in a lodger; in short the behavioural changes that working-age people were expected and incentivised to take do not apply to pensioners.

The LHA maxima policy introduces a bedroom tax by stealth as the examples above reveal and in some cases the HB cuts are worse than the bedroom tax cut at over 29% compared to 25% and perversely we see pensioners being hit harder than working-age people in this back-door bedroom tax by stealth policy.

Yet again we see this Government revealing ill-conceived back of a fag packet policy as no Government in their right mind would cut pensioner benefit more than they cut benefit to working-age persons.  This is a gift horse for all Opposition parties and one they should exploit to ensure that this hare-brained LHA maxima policy exempts pensioners and those in supported housing too such as refuges and hostels.

It is also a gift horse for the extremely quiet housing sector on this issue as I repeat no Government in their right mind would penalise the pensioner more than they penalise those of working-age with this back door bedroom tax element of the LHA maxima.

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Important note:

Unfortunately we again see Government and the housing sector and its leaders focusing as usual on the London, London, Bloody London issue! In the capital we see Outer NE London has the lowest 1 bed LHA rate of £155.57 per week which covers the highest 3 bed social housing rent even in Inner London so the back door bedroom tax LHA maxima issue explained above simply does not apply in the capital.

It really is time that national housing and housing-related policy stops being developed based on the perverse housing conditions of the UK’s 1 in 6 housing properties that are in the capital and on and for the 5 in every 6 UK housing properties that are NOT in London, London, Bloody London!

UPDATE ON SCALE – In England outside of London we have 139 BMRA areas or 139 different LHA rates and of those 139 we see 106 of them with a 1 bed LHA that is lower than the 3 bed social rent level and will see pensioners in social housing hit by this back door bedroom tax!!  That is 76% of areas outside of London where pensioners will be hit.

FURTHER UPDATE

The impact of this is growing like topsy and a few other points of note have emerged

 

  • In parts of the North of England the pensioner in a two bed social rent property can have a back-door LHA maxima bedroom tax as the 1 bed LHA rate in some areas does not cover a 2 bed social rent level.
  • Similarly the social tenant who is not under occupying a 2 bed property will have their HB cut as the 2 bed LHA rate is lower than a 2 bed social rent level.
  • In Wales the 2 bed LHA rate in Blaenau Gwent is just £76 pw and if a social rent 2 bed rate is lower than this then the fully occupied tenant will face a housing benefit cut (pensioner or not) and again we see just how far this LHA maxima policy extends.  The 3 bed LHA rate is £86 in Blaenau too and the same may happen there to a fully occupied tenant!
  • In only 5 Welsh areas is the 1 bed LHA rate over £90 per week and in 5 areas the 2 bed LHA rate is £90 or less so the LHA maxima could impact hugely in Wales and to pensioners and to those who are NOT under occupying
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