Tories to cut Housing Benefit for half a million existing pensioners

The Tories are coming after the pensioner for cuts in housing benefit.

Nothing you read below is speculative. It is already Tory policy and a question only of WHEN the Tories hit the pensioner with HB cuts and not if they do.

What’s more these HB cuts will hit the single pensioner and/or pensioner couple who do NOT under occupy not just those pensioners who do!

pensioner-money

 

Over half a million pensioners will soon be faced with a housing benefit cut that is worse than the bedroom tax called the LHA maxima cap AND specifically I mean in general needs social housing.

I discussed this almost two years ago and as is the norm I was ignored, called dystopian and a scaremonger  – plus ca change! At the end of February 2015 the article below was run in the Daily Telegraph …

holehouse

The same day I emphasised the potential saving of £400 million per year.  This equates at the average yearly bedroom tax of just under £800 per year to over 500,000 pensioners who are under-occupying their social housing properties; yet who are exempt from the bedroom tax as they are pensioners.

YET:

It is NOT a bedroom tax for pensioners it is the LHA Maxima cap policy as it applies to pensioners living in general need housing and to some who do NOT under occupy, and …

It is NOT a central London issue or is it limited to council housing, it is a national issue and applies to ALL general needs social housing.

A pensioner or pensioner couple qualify in housing need terms for a 1 bed property and the LHA maxima cap will mean that they will only receive a maximum housing benefit of the 1 bed LHA rate – the LHA maxima cap.

A simple example is the pensioner couple living in Hull who are living in a 3 bed property with a typical rent of £90 per week. Under the LHA Maxima cap policy from 2019 they will have their maximum housing benefit cut to the local 1 bed LHA rate which is £69.73 and thus a £20.27 per week cut in their HB, a weekly rent shortfall of £20.27 which they will need to make up from their pension.

This £20.27 per week cut in Hull will NOT go into any redistributed LHA maxima pot as it would for supported housing because it is general needs housing and not supported housing and why I emphasise this affects general needs social housing.

In all areas such as Hull which have low LHA rates this will happen yet it will not happen in high LHA areas such as Central London as the 1 bed LHA rate there is still way in excess of a 3 or 4 or 5 bed council or housing association property.

Here are some inner London 1 bed LHA rates which at £260 per week and more are way in excess of what a London social landlord charges for a 5 bed property which means under the LHA Maxima policy that a London pensioner can have as many spare bedrooms as they wish yet a pensioner in low rent Hull cannot!

inner-london-lha

Yet again we see the London, London, Bloody London ONLY focus of the great and the good of the social housing policy machine relating all HB and welfare policies just to the capital and ignoring the fact that this issue applies to the 87% of all UK housing which is NOT based in the capital of England!

In short they – the great and the good of social housing – have missed it yet again and missed that the LHA maxima cap will hit 500,000 pensioners in GENERAL NEEDS social housing!

Social landlords and DWP have known since before the bedroom tax that there are many more pensioner households who under-occupy social housing properties than working age households.  Yet these pensioner households who are exempt from the bedroom tax are NOT EXEMPT from the LHA Maxima Cap policy which applies to every general needs social rented household.

The LHA Maxima Cap will thus apply to the pensioner household and will be retrospectively applied when the pensioner households come under the Universal Credit regime – yet note well still the London pensioner will be allowed to have as many spare bedrooms as they wish and the taxpayer will pick up the bill yet the pensioner in the regions will have to downsize of pay the massive HB shortfalls this policy creates!

This retrospective Universal Credit impact was sneaked out in the last Autumn Statement in November 2016 and is worse than the bedroom tax as the pensioner couple living in a 1 bed house in Hull will also see their Housing Benefit cut by over 10% even though they are NOT under occupying.

To explain the average 1 bed general needs social rent in Hull is £77.80 which is now all paid in HB yet that will drop to £69.73 – a cut of 10.4% and a cut of £421 per year. Yes that means the fully occupying pensioner couple will be hit and why the LHA Maxima Cap is worse than the bedroom tax.

A pensioner couple living in a social housing 2 bed at a rent of £86.15 per week in Hull will also get just £69.73 in HB from when they enter the Universal Credit system – a cut of £16.42 pw and £856.77 pa and of 19%.  Under the bedroom tax their cut would be less at £12.06 per week and 14%.  Again this LHA Maxima Cap policy is worse than the bedroom tax  as the bedroom tax exempt pensioner couple in Hull will get a HB cut that is more than the bedroom tax cut!

Yet the pensioner couple in London in a 5 bed social housing property will NOT get this cut in Housing Benefit from the LHA Maxima Cap as they will be allowed up to £260 per week in HB that more than covers a 5 bed social rent in London!

The impact of the LHA Maxima Cap on general needs social housing will be huge as pensioners will be hit by this backdoor bedroom tax which is worse than the bedroom tax itself!

Over 20% of all social housing tenants (claiming HB or not) are pensioner households just 5% of all social housing is sheltered housing and so there are at least 3 social housing pensioner households living in general needs social housing for every 1 living in sheltered housing and thus general needs housing gives three times as great an issue for pensioners as sheltered housing does!

Once again the great and the good of social housing with their London, London Bloody London focus have missed this and once again missed or is it chosen to ignore (?) what I wrote about this almost two years ago on the same day as the article in the Daily Telegraph.  It doesn’t affect London at all and only affects the regions yet most importantly it affects pensioners in GENERAL NEEDS social housing and whether they under occupy or not!

The national media picked this up in November 2016 yet only reporting that the LHA Maxima Cap policy was now deferred until 2019 from 2018 and they failed to pick up the Universal Credit impact which means it will affect EXISTING pensioner households and not just those who began a tenancy after 2016 which was the original plan before the government buried in the Autumn Statement minutiae the UC impact!

In summary at this point the LHA Maxima Cap policy will massively cut the housing benefit of every pensioner in general needs social housing when the pensioner moves onto Universal Credit.   It’s a case of when and not if the pensioner in GENERAL NEEDS social housing has their Housing Benefit cut!

Who and where and how many?

I used Hull above as it has a very low LHA 1 bed rate yet there are many other areas of England in which pensioners in social housing, under occupying or not, will be affected.

In over half of all local authority areas in England – 79 of the 152 lHA areas called BMRAs – a 1 bed LHA rate is less than the average social housing rent level and they are spread far and wide across England and not just a Northern issue with the likes of Dover and Thanet and Plymouth and Sussex East and much of Devon and Cornwall in this position as well as swathes across the North of England.

It will be much worse in Scotland and worse still across most of Wales where outside of Cardiff it will hit almost every pensioner household who is under occupying a social housing property.

Yet as it does NOT affect London, London, Bloody London the issue achieves no attention or awareness raising and is ignored by government by the great and good (sic) of housing and by the mainstream media.

As I say above this is current known and announced Tory policy so it is a question of WHEN and not IF the pensioner gets hit by cuts to their housing benefit.

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14 thoughts on “Tories to cut Housing Benefit for half a million existing pensioners

  1. The only pensioners going onto universal credit are new claims from mixed-age couples (one under, one over pension age) made after uc is fully rolled out. The lha maxima only applies to tenancies taken out after April 2016 unless the person is on UC. When HB is fully abolished, housing costs for pensioners will go into pension credit, not universal credit. Therefore the lha maxima will affect two groups of pensioners only….New uc claims from mixed age couples and pensioners with new tenancies issued after 2016. So the analysis of numbers affected is substantially out but I agree with the analysis of the impact on those who are caught. 

    Sent from my Samsung device

    1. You speak with such authority on UC issues … the ones that change almost every week … and on any whim … and you care to say how many UC changes there have been since 2013 … and what is this weeks claimed date for the full abolition of housing benefit?

      Assuming you are correct then how many pensioners go into social housing each year – that is how many of the 385,000 new social housing tenancies per year? That would be what % of the 1.16 million new social tenancies created from April 2016 to March 2019?

      IF the current 28% of all social tenancies are pensioners then that alone would 323k new pensioners that your view admits would be caught in 2019….

      1. …or perhaps it means 323k pensioners will be refused social housing from 2016 to 2019 in much the same way as working age families will be refused it in the overall benefit cap – affordability and too high a financial risk for social (?) landlords?! Will they too have to go directly to the homeless section of the local council to be rehoused in ‘temporary’ B&B provision?

        Strange how none of this is in any impact assessment from the Tories ….

      2. Joe – that assumes that every one of the new social tenancies would have rents in the social sector that are higher than the equivalent LHA rate for private tenants and also that every one of those new ‘social tenancy’ pensioners would be claiming housing benefit. Neither assumption is valid.

    2. In 2012 the CIH estimated there were 70 – 90,000 mixed-age couples which adds to the 323k above. Since 2012 the pension age has increased and so means there will be more mixed-age pensioner couples too …

      1. Housing Benefit for pensioners to go into Pension Credit? That would be the same Pension Credit that only has a 67% to 73% take up – or 27% to 33% of pensioners don’t claim despite being entitled to claim (DWP figures June 2015).

        Some more kittens then for social landlords if HB is getting lumped into that failing benefit … will that make social landlords refuse to allocate to even more pensioners because of this …?!

  2. Joe, I vaguely recall that the LHA maxima changes would also affect every other group… so potentially people currently paying the bedroom tax of say 14 quid a week, will then have the LHA maxima applied (where its a greater cut than the bedroom tax) and will then have the 19/20/more… cut applied instead and where the LHA would be a lesser cut than the Bedroom tax, the bedroom tax would still apply.

    There was at the time some confusion over the rules, as above (from very hazy memory), due to no one really knowing much about how it would stack up against the bedroom tax and if it would be instead/as well as/biggest cut wins… as I believe it was still at the “lets dream up another stupid effing idea and vote it in” stage with the implementation details to be left to SI’s.

    Does/Will this LHA maxima also now apply to all the other groups (bedroom tax, pensioners, hostel, supported housing, refuge, temp homeless hotel… etc.) or is it still “further clarifications will be announced and SI’s tabled”… followed swiftly by “oh shit we didn’t think of that… feck, table another SI”?

  3. currently am in supported housing. The Council propose to change this accommodation (3blocks of flats, where I live and many more throughout the County) to general needs. So, if I read this article right, we will not be affected if this accommodation stays supported, but will be if the Council change it to general needs. Brilliant wheeze, I say!!

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