Bedroom tax, room size & tenant power

Social tenants need to use their latent power to bring social landlords to account – All 5.04 million social tenant households in the UK have far more power than the 1500 or so social landlords, so why not use it?

You will recall a post I put out two weeks ago re Sanctuary Housing, the UK’s largest social landlord and their ridiculous assertion that a room in which not even a single bed could fit was a bedroom for rent and for bedroom tax purposes.

The power of social media in this very quick name and shame exercise saw the tenant concerned get this letter today from the UK’s largest social landlord:

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As I have said on literally dozens of occasions well over 100,000 social housing properties will have bedrooms that are way too small to be correctly classified as a bedroom for bedroom tax purposes.  This is no one-off case.

This Sanctuary Housing example at around 35 square feet of floor space is particularly small, although not atypical, and was in all fairness a very easy case in which to name and shame and the power that tenants can wield through social media is there for all to see.

The tenant is not powerless at all and if tenants did unite then imagine what could be done to eradicate the outrageous impacts we have seen in the bedroom tax with

(a) local councils choosing to believe the landlords word as it is cheaper than making a lawful decision on an individual basis and in essence they show utter contempt for UT decisions which show they must do this, and

(b) the further outrage that no private landlord is allowed to claim housing benefit on a room of less than 50 square feet yet a social landlord can say a room of 20 square feet is a bedroom and charge rent an receive HB on.

Children have been evicted and made homeless in the bedroom tax because of these outrages over the sizes of claimed bedrooms by social landlords that have been believed by local council HB department decision makers.

Children’s life chances have been irreparably damaged by this sham bedroom tax decision making process and some adults have even taken their own lives because of it.

We know that unless local councils are challenged by way of a bedroom tax appeal they will do bugger all about this outrage.  We also know as proven here that social landlords are fearful of negative external publicity they can’t control via social media, or in very simple terms naming and shaming does work.

It is way overdue for social tenants to stop being meek and to stop thinking they are powerless when they have far more power than their landlords.

Obviously I cannot take up every single case with a separate blog and the ball is in your court and while this is an easy example it is worth remembering that the tenant has been fighting this alone for 6 years so tenants MUST unite in order to utilise the huge latent power they have.

5.04 million social tenant households containing approximately 6.6 million adult voters and you sit around and watch the better product and better service and better price social housing you have compared to the only other option in privately renting disappear because 1500 social landlords cannot get their act together to fight the attacks on the social housing model created in the 1948 Welfare State.  That’s one way and a correct way of viewing this.

Six months ago I raised the idea of a Tenant Campaign Group (TGC) to create a social tenant movement based on groups in all areas of the country and one that in theory is easily sustainable financially based on a low membership fee. Even social landlords liked the idea and made overtures of pump priming such a group that they recognise would yield huge political power yet that never materialised – Plus ca change!

Since that time I have been looking at how such a group and community run by social tenants for social tenants can be set up and crunched more numbers and researched the myriad of grassroots social tenant groups out there as well.  This can be done and from June I am looking to meet like minded social tenants in every area of the country with a view to getting such a grassroots national tenants group off the ground shortly after that is fully independent and run by social tenants for social tenants.

Such a group can lobby government and cases such as the above which bring to account the largest social landlord in the UK readily and quickly and even when it operates in Torbay, an area with just 8.26% of all housing being social housing and only 12 local councils out of 342 in England have a lower percentage of social housing properties than it.

If you are a social tenant or a grassroots social tenant group and are interested in the above then email me at 10anthelp@gmail.com stating what area you live in and I will be in touch shortly.

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