A tweet today reveals dirty tricks by East Durham Homes with regard to the Benefit Cap that social tenants need to be aware of and it not immediately apparent. The tweet:
Follow the link and you find the social (?) landlord is requesting the tenant calls them and give the landlord precise details of (a) your household composition, and (b) precise details of what welfare benefits you receive.
So what is the problem in that you ask?
Firstly, social landlords do NOT know either of these issues as they have never needed to know and a tenant does not have to inform the landlord of these issues.
Secondly, when you do inform your landlord, your landlord will then know if you are likely to be hit by the reducing Benefit Cap and by how much per week your Housing Benefit will be cut.
In short, the tenant will be telling their landlord that they are too great a financial risk given that the reducing Benefit Cap will cut the average social tenant households Housing Benefit by around £76 per week.
The landlord in the apparent guise of helping the tenant over the Benefit Cap reductions is actually helping itself and not the tenant.
If tenants need to know whether they will be affected then they should be contacting an independent advice agency such as the CAB but NOT by asking their landlord who has a very clear conflict of interest here.
In short all tenants can start by looking at this table below which gives the maximum amount of Housing Benefit you will receive broken down by your household composition.
The above uses very precise figures despite being rounded to the nearest £1 and is accurate as the amounts of JSA /ESA /IS and Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit are the same right across the country.
The table shows that the 2 parent 3 Child household will be affected in theory right across the country as you can’t find in this case a 3 bedroom rented property that a maximum HB of £50 per week in the regions or £108 in London will cover
The second and final step if the above figures could affect you in practice and if you receive ANY of the following then you are exempt from the Benefit Cap.
The CAB website here discusses and list benefits that make you exempt such as DLA, PIP, etc yet has not been updated to include that you are exempt if you receive Carer’s Allowance or Guardian’s Allowance.
The DWP’s own page here does list the exempt benefits and I have reproduced below and remember you only have to receive ANY ONE of these benefits to be exempt:
And those that are included here:
Note well that if you receive ESA you need to be in the support group to be exempt and if you are in the work related activity group or WRAG then you are not exempt and the reducing Benefit Cap will apply.
If you still haven’t heard about the reducing Benefit Cap policy which begins at start of November then you need to find out quickly. It applies to social and private tenants and the average amounts of Housing Benefit it cuts is alarming as these actual averages from actual DWP figures for Leeds reveals with further details here that applies to all other towns and cities with only the amount of cuts varying:
All of these actual average cuts means that council, HA and private tenants will be evicted as no households reliant on subsistence levels benefits can afford to find £70 – £126 PER WEEK to make up the rent and especially as we know bedroom tax households are struggling to pay the average £15.29 per week HB cut and rent shortfall.
So if the social tenant falls for this landlord dirty trick and gives them precise details of their household composition and the precise welfare benefits they receive then all the tenant will be doing is ensuring the red-inked pay up or else letters will be coming through their letterboxes sooner rather than later.
This is also a critical issue if landlords believe the risible DWP estimates and scan figures as to the number of households affected. The latest DWP figures saying this will be 88,000 households affected yet it can and I strongly maintain it will be at least 100,000 more than that and as a minimum.
Finally on this point, there is no point in informing your landlord as there is absolutely bugger all your landlord can support you with regarding the Benefit Cap. You will be hit with it or not and even the most supportive landlord welfare teams do not have the time, the resources or even the knowledge to help you move from ESA wrag to ESA support or to claim any other of the welfare benefits which would exempt you.
The only logical way to escape the Benefit Cap is to take up a minimum wage job that would qualify you for working tax credit that exempts you from it.
That is what the Benefit cap is all about – ensuring that employers have an ever larger cohort of desperate people who have no choice but to take a low paying job in order to keep the roof over their children’s heads. Note well that you have no choice even if you are unable to work or not expected to work, such as the parent with a day old baby and others who I discuss here.
As someone said today about this on Twitter – “I never believed this would happen in my wildest nightmares” yet that wildest nightmare begins from 7 November 2016 less than 10 weeks away so it is time tenants found out but not by contacting your landlord!!!
Finally, I mentioned this issue well over a year ago(**) when I said tenants should beware of their landlords coming up with ploys such as tell us what benefits you are on and be entered into a prize draw for an iPad or something similar. This particular attempt by East Durham Homes will not be the first such ploy or the last as landlords are desperate to know what benefits their tenants are receiving in order to consider their financial risks of arrears.
That same issue also applies to the Pay MORE to Stay policy which starts in April 2017 as council an HA landlords are also desperate to discover how much non HB tenants get in income so as to charge them more in rent.
Both policies, and regardless of how good a landlord you have or think you have, mean that all social landlords become the enemy of the social tenant. That wedge between landlord and tenant has been driven there (and knocked in repeatedly with a sledgehammer) with government policy.
Tenant be wary, be very very very wary!
(**) 15 July 2015 in my “Ain’t nothing going up but the rent” blog when I said:
Interestingly and I doubt in this case connected to this I have just seen on Facebook a tenant letter from a new housing officer saying it is our policy to visit every property every two years and photograph rooms (eh?) and we need to verify that the tenant on the tenancy is actually living there for which we need to see a ….WAGE SLIP!
All tenants need to be aware of such potential devices being used and earnings data boxes can seem not to be out of place in a tenant satisfaction survey with the chance to win an iPad or £200 in Marks & Spencer vouchers and the like!! can’t they?
PS – A few responses on Twitter and Facebook from tenants within an hour of this blog published saying their landlords have already asked for this information too!
UPDATE – 20:15 pm
Here’s the case of Mr S, a social tenant and single parent to two young children.
- He has been told by his council he will not be affected by the reduced Benefit Cap.
- His landlord also saying that he will not be affected by the reduced Benefit Cap
- He has been told by the local welfare rights advice that he will not be affected
- He has received no notification from the DWP that he will be affected either …
Yet he will as the figures prove.
- Job Seekers Allowance … 3,811.64
- Child Benefit ……………. 1,793.72
- Child Tax Credit ……….. 5,560.00
- Family Premium ……….. 545.00
- Yearly Total ……………. £11,710.36 (= £224.58 per week)
He lives in a 2 bed affordable (sic) rent property in the South East not in London and so he maximum amount of overall ‘benefit’ he is allowed is £20,000 per year.
This means the maximum he is allowed to get in Housing Benefit is £8,289.64 per year which works out at £159 per week.
His so-called ‘affordable’ rent from his so-called ‘social’ landlord is £198 per week.
He will therefore have to find almost £40 per week from his £224.58 other income to pay his rent on his cramped 2 bed accommodation.
Currently his Housing Benefit pays all his rent bar £5 or so per week which is ineligible and this form of alleged ‘social’ housing, the misnamed affordable rent is more than he would receive in LHA if he lived in a 2 bed private property in the same area. In many areas I have found AR HB levels to be more than the maximum a private tenant can receive in LHA.
What can we deduce from this?
- A) Affordable (sic) rent is a joke and misnomer
- B) HA’s who have AR properties across the South East will find they are unaffordable to the benefit tenant and even the 2 bed AR property is financially toxic to the benefit tenant.
- C) The DWP scan that so many buffoons say must be accurate is clearly not accurate.
- D) The landlord, council and local CAB clearly do not know what they are talking about when it comes to the reduced Benefit Cap.
- E) Run these figures through the DWP’s own benefit cap calculator and it also says Mr S has a maximum HB entitlement to £159 per week!!
Note, the list above is the full income details for Mr S and his children so there is no question of a mistake in the figures.
In light of the comments from many below this piece today I just thought the above actual example which highlights all the points of A) through E) above can be borne in mind by those who argue against my original point and due to their assertions and statements as to their expertise in this area.
Yes, the DWP got it wrong. The council got it wrong. Welfare Rights got is wrong. The landlord got it wrong – – Even though all of them could have used the DWP’s own benefit cap calculator and got it right.
The much bigger point of course is that the DWP scan and their estimates are the biggest work of dangerous fiction yet from a government department with a history of cock ups such as (i) 670k hit by bedroom tax was 524k and good for DWP as only 22% out; then (ii) 56,000 to be hit by benefit cap which has seen an average of 23,000 since October 2013 or 59% out; then (iii) the infamous pre 1996 cock up that DWP including IDS and Freud said would only affect 3-5,000 households yet actually affected over 40,000 – or ten times their mid point figure.
Now I wonder which outright despicable scare monger predicted all of the above and said the DWP was talking out of its arse and was ridiculed for it and was proved correct? Still that is the usual pathetic tactic that DWP, government and all other actors hope you have forgotten about when the actual figures and impacts manifest which of course by that time is far too late to do anything about!
Attention-seeking opinionated smart arse and ScareMonger #1
Apologies … just a quick chart to show that those who assert that the Benefit Cap has worked as it has created more employment and (as some idiots believe) this is demonstrated by the HB in-work claimant count.
Here is the HB in-work claimant count in a simple BEFORE and AFTER chart …
Notice anything? Damn those facts are pesky aren’t they!