Bedroom Tax – guilty until proven innocent!

If you are affected by the bedroom tax do yourself a favour this weekend, click here to download this 1 side of A4 letter and start your appeal. The link will take you to the following screen and the file you need is highlighted.

bedroomtaxfaceappealletter

Guilty and have to prove your innocence!

Every local council’s HB department – who are the sole decision makers – made every bedroom tax decision without knowing that the room you have is a bedroom or is not a bedroom – ‘bedroom’ as in the framework precedent set down by the Upper Tribunal in the cases of Nelson.

Instead your council’s HB department believed the word of your landlord because it was easier and far cheaper for them to do so.  Your guilt was assumed leaving the bedroom tax household to have to prove their innocence.

Regardless of whether or not your ‘spare’ room actually is a bedroom or not as stated by the Nelson cases, you the social tenant are deemed guilty of having a spare bedroom and have by default suffered the housing benefit cut because it was cheaper for your council to make the decision in the way they did.

That is outrageous and always has been.

The Nelson decision which is a legal precedent that all councils MUST accord with was handed down in November 2014.  Your council should have conformed to the Nelson framework of what is a bedroom in their decisions for April 2015 but they did not.  Your council HB department could have gone back and superseded the decisions they took before this which wrongly in law assumed your guilt.  They did not.  Your council will have made the bedroom tax decisions to come into effect in just over two weeks time by ignoring what they legally must do – the Nelson decision – and all because it is cheaper for them to make the decision unlawfully.

That has to stop – and it is no good simply saying enough is enough, it is time for all 445,000 or so bedroom tax affected households to act by taking up their absolute right to have the bedroom tax decision reconsidered and made lawfully.

Myra Hindley and Ian Brady, the Moors Murderers were treated better in law than the bedroom tax household as they were innocent until proven guilty.  You as a bedroom tax affected tenant have been found guilty and need to prove your innocence. You may as well have been water-boarded in Guantanamo Bay with your presumed guilt

You may say that is hyperbole yet it is nonetheless a perfectly valid statement.  The stability of a roof over your head and over that of your children has been put at risk by unlawful and outrageous decisions made by your local council’s HB department.  Every council’s HB department whether your council is Labour or Tory or Lib Dem or SNP controlled and all of them have been in unlawful cahoots with the Conservative government’s pernicious bedroom tax policy and made unlawful decisions because it is cheaper to do that than to make a lawful decision.

Local councils are not above the law, they cannot choose to ignore the law or put two fingers up to what the law and legal precedent of the Upper Tribunal says.  Yet that is what they have done in showing utter contempt for it.

Why is it so wrong to expect a public authority to make a lawful decision?  It is not and when that decision puts the life chances of children at risk, their educational, health and other life chances as well as the roof over their heads we should all get angry at that, bloody angry at that.

The letter and merit?

The letter is a means to an end.  Its intention is for all local councils to come out and ‘see’ the rooms they are levying the bedroom tax on which will cost them millions and rightfully so for a number of reasons.

Generally from working in social housing for nearly 25 years I would cautiously estimate that 60,000 rooms upon which the bedroom tax has been charged for three years are not bedrooms according to the law in Nelson

Firstly, the law (Nelson) says a bedroom is like an elephant, hard to describe but we know one when we SEE one – yet your council as the decision maker has never seen your alleged bedrooms and it needs to do to make a lawful decision to conform with Nelson. It not seeing the rooms councils are making unlawful decisions and imposing misery on tens of thousands of households.

Secondly, the cost to your local council will mean they will need to inspect and they need to say in full detail whether the disputed room is or is not a bedroom and do so in writing to you to include how the disputed room is of a size, shape and configuration to meet the Nelson criteria.  That is what the law says and that cost is huge and prohibitive.

Thirdly, I chose to put the standard letter on the Facebook pages of F.A.C.E. (Fight Appeal Challenge Everything) because they are based in an area of Liverpool’s former council house stock that includes streets upon street of alleged bedrooms of 35 to 45 square feet of floor space with the bulkhead of the stairs in these ‘L-shaped’ rooms which under no interpretation of Nelson could possibly be deemed a bedroom.  Yet they all see the bedroom tax levied on these rooms!

Fourthly, my experience of ‘seeing’ bedrooms is not limited to Liverpool or the North West and these rooms which are correctly deemed boxrooms and not bedrooms are these are commonplace right across the country.  In short they are what councils built post war and statistically over 36% of all social housing properties are these 3 bed / 5 person properties according to the English Housing Survey.

Fifth, if these rooms were viewed by the Independent Rent Officer service if they were in private landlord hands – as many now are – then would be correctly and objectively deemed NOT to be bedrooms.

However, while I strongly believe that at least 60,000 or so (which is 13.5% of bedroom tax affected) as an absolute minimum have a strong chance of winning a bedroom appeal on size, layout, configuration, dimension etc’, the real purpose is legitimate lawful direct action by all 100%.

IF all 100% challenged their bedroom tax decisions which they can do with the letter by downloading, filling in the blanks. signing and handing in (ie no cost whatsoever) then the bedroom tax policy would go and very quickly.  The huge added cost to local councils is one reason yet I suspect most if not all councils will NOT come out to inspect.  However, should these cases then proceed to a First-tier Tribunal, which is also the tenants right, then the cost of that to central government I have estimated at around £1.26 billion … to achieve a nominal £348 million ‘saving!’

Machiavellian? Maybe but frankly I don’t give a shit if it is seen that way and this is a means to the end of getting rid of this despised and unlawfully imposed policy.  This is ‘boxing clever’ and taking on the DWP and this government using lawful and legitimate means that they will detest and can do little if anything to prevent.  This is not what bedroom tax challenges have tended to be so far – challenges as to the morality of the policy which while legitimate and valid do not do what this will do and hit the government in its arse pocket!!

This is taking on and beating the government at their own game and doing so legitimately and lawfully – and they need to be challenged for all the above reasons and so does local government for their huge part in making unlawful decisions and assuming the tenant is guilty and leaving them the onerous solution of proving their innocence.

 

_____________

Note: I could have posted this on a number of worthy bedroom tax group pages and feel free to share this and the standard letter as widely as possible.  Yet F.A.C.E. was founded by a bedroom tax tenant who won her appeal and has since won 72 out of 74 appeals mostly in ESA / DLA / PIP tribunals because these are the local needs coming through their door despite literally hundreds of 35 – 45 square foot boxrooms being hit by bedroom tax wrongly and unlawfully being within a mile of the Bridge Community Centre they work so extraordinarily from.  It’s no good saying enough is enough, only action will do if you want to get rid of the bedroom tax!

All of the following were better treated in law than the bedroom tax tenant!

Myra Hindley, Fred West, Ian Brady, Fred West, Michael Ryan and Rosemary West were all innocent until proven guilty

bettertreated

For those not on Facebook here’s the text of the letter:

 

Date: ____________________        Re:    Social Sector Size Criteria (Bedroom Tax)

To:    Housing Benefit Department of _____________________________ Council

 

Dear Sirs,

I request a  reconsideration of your HB decision to take affect from April 2016 known as the bedroom tax and to make a lawful decision following the Upper Tribunal ruling and legal precedence you have to follow of what is and is not a bedroom in Nelson, [2014] UKUT 0525 (AAC) from 26 November 2014.

Nelson says that if a room is less than the minimum standard of 520 cubic feet then the council as decision maker has a “…need to provide reasons why, in the particular case, either is or is not too small” at paragraph 55.

Nelson stated at 54 that “…Parliament intended to allow decision makers to take account of all relevant circumstances on a case by case basis.”  I maintain you have not considered all my relevant circumstances to include a number of case-sensitive factors it says you must at [31] such as (a) size, configuration and overall dimensions.  As you are not aware of the size, configuration and overall dimension of my rooms how can you possibly have considered them and how could you have made a lawful decision?

Nelson at [31] also says a room has to have (b) access, (c) natural and electric lighting, (d) ventilation and (e) privacy.  It further says at [33] that a room to be a bedroom has to include the storage of clothes (also at 22) and somewhere for a glass of water: A room needs to have free floor space to get dressed and undressed [33] to be of normal height and be heated in the same way as other rooms [64] and these are facts that you cannot have considered.

I maintain rooms in my property do not meet the UT criteria to be deemed as bedrooms and I am seeking a full reconsideration of your determination that my property has the number of bedrooms you state it has.  Please give your response in writing, stating when you will be coming out to inspect my property with at least 72 hours notice. I await your full and considered response.

Yours faithfully

 

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10 thoughts on “Bedroom Tax – guilty until proven innocent!

  1. In the support group. I lost an appeal last year (I live alone since divorce) need regular over-night care but only receive middle rate care DLA, so bedroom tax exclusion is discretionary).

    CC housing manager (not a doctor) whom I had never met, gave evidence that I didn’t need overnight care from my sister travelling 90? miles – “She can give overnight care by staying in a hotel” WTF!?

    Judge – AFAIK not a doctor, agreed despite written affirmations from siblings and GP. Yet I have a terminal illness, medication-induced physiological brain damage (MRI scan), psychological and cognitive deficiencies (consultant diagnosed) plus other other life-threatening chronic health issues but appear outwardly healthy.

    ‘Wanted to appeal to upper tier but I’m not legally trained nor have money to pay.

    I requested decision clarification in writing from judge. But when received I couldn’t read the judge’s hand-written ink pen spider scribble. Zero legal advice despite charity org’s offers of help that never materialised. Demoralised and worsening depression.

    Housing association successfully applied for suspended possession order on my home. Now only an LA or DWP admin error or sanction away from eviction.

    LA gave me a few months DHP but refused to backdate bedroom tax DHP – arrears accumulated due to waiting one year for appeal hearing. Too demoralised to re-apply.

    1. Can I make another appeal (after another claim)?

    2. Can I get legal aid to appeal in upper tier?

    Help?

    1. 1. Yes 2. A tiny £ that pays for 1 letter and little else. You don’t need to be on any disability benefit to qualify for a room for an overnight carer. You only need to satisfy LA that you have o/n care need, that it’s regular and it’s in place

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