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Frank Field knows nothing about the bedroom tax and DHP or even where he is a MP!

Frank Field MP for Birkenhead is

Yet  has no grasp of the bedroom tax or for that matter how Discretionary Housing Payments work.

On his own website today Frank Field MP shows his complete ignorance of discretionary housing payments (DHP) and after you have read my deconstruction of this unbelievably ignorant piece by Frank Field, you will be asking

Is he really the man we want to scrutinise the excesses of Iain Duncan Smith?

That is a rhetorical question reader as you shall see but before I get on with it Frank Field equates the total DHP budget of the 5 Merseyside Councils with the DHP spent by them on the bedroom tax and perpetuates by his own hand the Tory myth that all DHP gets spent on the bedroom tax. He is a dangerous incompetent.

  • His local council, MBC Wirral, spent more of its DHP budget on the private tenant than the social tenant.
  • It spent only 39% of its total DHP on the bedroom tax – the lowest percentage of the 5 Merseyside Councils.

This is the man who has been elected by all MPs of all parties to scrutinise the excesses of Iain Duncan Smith at the DWP and he clearly knows nothing about the DHP system and how it operates

frankfield dhp buffoon

Let’s begin with the title “Merseyside Councils face up to Bedroom Tax Bill of £4.6 million.

OH dear! – Merseyside comprises 5 councils as below and the figure after each of them is the amount of bedroom tax that has been deducted from tenants housing benefit and in brackets how much each council spent on bedroom tax DHP in 2014/15:

  • Knowsley – £2,451,338 – (£378,892)
  • Liverpool – £6,922,792 – (£1,093,849)
  • Sefton – £2,292,587 – (£340,080)
  • St Helens – £2,291,683 – (£345,018)
  • Wirral – £2,541,108 – (£386,044)

In total then the 5 councils in Merseyside have had £16,505,508 per year taken from social tenant households there and they paid out £2,543,883 in bedroom tax DHP. Statistically 2 in every 15 households received a bedroom tax DHP.

Lets then look at the breakdown of the DHP spend on bedroom tax in all the 5 Councils which are found in the official returns released last week here. These include a breakdown of what each local authority ACTUALLY spent their DHP allocation on and the figure for Wirral – Frank Fields own council in his constituency – I have cut and pasted below:

wirraldhpspend1415

As you can see (and click on enlarge) Wirral spent £386,044 of their total DHP spend on bedroom tax and £130,796 on Benefit Cap DHP and £305,092 on LHA Cap DHP and £209,665 on “Other (non welfare reform)” DHP. The “Other (non welfare reform)” DHP spend will be for deposits and bonds for private tenants and perhaps even some moving costs too

Yet Frank Field says Wirral spent £791,502 on bedroom tax DHP which is patently false and I have no idea of where this figure comes from and nor I suspect does heor whichever numpty gave him the figures.

When you look at the actual DHP spend in Wirral you can see that more is spent on the private tenant than the social tenant.

Just 39% of Wirral’s DHP spend is on bedroom tax and the lowest percentage in Merseyside as Knowsley spent 57% of its DHP budget on the bedroom tax; Liverpool spent 53%; St Helens spend 65% of total DHP on bedroom tax and Sefton 48%.

Note that the LB Westminster spent just 3% of its £4.8 million DHP budget on the bedroom tax, a miserly £154,094.  Councils can spend their DHP allocation on whatever they wish and when you hear government ministers say we have allocated £345 million in DHP in the first two years to mitigate the bedroom tax they are telling a clever and known mistruth as that £345m is the total DHP budget of which the bedroom tax is just of the elements it is spent on.

And this is where I have the biggest problem with Frank Field as his woeful article would appear to derive the £4.6 million figure from the combined TOTAL DHP allocated to Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral which comes to £4,956,960 or £4.96 million and plays up to the Tory myth and widely held myth that DHPs are just for bedroom tax which has always been a myth.

As my figures show the Merseyside Councils had £16.5 million of bedroom tax deducted and received £4.96m in total DHP.  The amount they spent on bedroom tax DHP was £2,543,883 or in a simpler form….

  • bedroom tax DHPs were received by 2 in every 13 Merseyside households affected,  and
  • bedroom tax DHPs were NOT received by 11 in 13 Merseyside affected households 

Frank Field is I remind you the Chair of the Work & Pensions Committee, the all party scrutiny committee that oversees and scrutinises the policies of IDS such as the bedroom tax, benefit cap etc.  How can anyone have confidence in Frank Field to do that job?

I wonder if Frank Field saw this post I put out recently which said DHP allocation next financial year will fall to half of the figure it was in 2013/14 – Clearly not!

All things being equal this will see just 1 in every 15 bedroom tax households receive a DHP across Merseyside

I wonder if Frank Field is in his constituency in a fortnight as I am speaking there and explaining how a minimum of 3000 children will be evicted and made homeless in Wirral this year as a result of the benefit cap reduction that his party supports.  As the former head of the Child Poverty Action Group I am sure that will hold interest.

Many evicted will be his constituents so he does have a legitimate reason for being there and I can give him chapter and verse why the benefit cap is far worse for vulnerable people and for councils than the bedroom tax.

Here’s a flavour of that and some ballpark figures that the reduced benefit cap will transfer cost of circa £2.7 billion to local councils and since this was released I have a precise breakdown of housing benefit receipt by household composition in Wirral  – how many 2 parent households with  4 children etc and by social and private rented – and also looked at the very informative FRS just released last week which breaks down benefit receipt by tenure too, amongst other factors.

It could easily be the case that the benefit cap reduction costs Wirral Council £4.6 million per year in additional homeless costs in the first full year and more than he claims all Merseyside councils lose now in bedroom tax.

PS Frank Field, since when has Halton been in Merseyside? You appear to be to Geography what IDS is to evidence based policy and fact – and below is a map of Merseyside to help you recognise the area in which you have been a MP since 1979

merseyside_map

 

 

 

The Labour Party supports 600,000 CHILDREN being made homeless

I have been saying the overall benefit cap is the worst of the welfare reforms and few have listened. A quick search on this site reveals over 60 posts about this heinous policy since 2011 with most of them full of data and informative yet some where I rant and spew forth bile.

I get irate not just angry about the overall (housing) benefit cap because it severely impairs the life chances of children and in the first full year of the reduced cap it will see – note not if but WILL see – hundreds of thousands of children being evicted and made homeless.

This is inevitable.

homless-child

Children will be evicted by private landlords and by social landlords – the same social landlords who told me three years ago when I presented the impact of the cap to them that they will always house the most vulnerable.  They won’t and can’t

I predicted here a few weeks ago after some very complex and involved number crunching that a minimum of 164,000 families and a maximum of 246,000 – 20% either side of 205,000 households will be evicted and made homeless in the first year of the cap reducing to £440 per week and these households will include between 600,000 and 900,000 children.

Late last week the Family Resources Survey for 2013/14 was released and suggests that this 164,000 households containing 600,000 is an underestimate and the FRS for example tells us welfare benefit receipt by tenure, so how many social tenants for example receive DLA and are exempt but also how many do not receive it and the cap will apply.

This is CHILDREN being evicted and made homeless, CHILDREN.

Today sees the Daily Mirror with an article by John Healey saying this will cost £1.5 billion more than it saves and my last figures also included a £2.68 billion transfer of cost from central to local government.

Yet that is just money in comparison to the life chances of CHILDREN being ruined by homelessness.

Today sees an Inside Housing article that the housing regulator will conduct an investigation into how the reduced cap affects landlords.

Yet that is just money to one player in this offensive game in comparison to the life chances of CHILDREN being ruined by homelessness

Today sees a House of Commons Briefing Report on the benefit cap reduction dated 29 June 2015 with source upon source of frankly inconsequential and incompetent statements of politicians and the odd reference to a housing association.

Yet that is just background waffle and it makes no projection or comment as to how many household adults will be evicted never mind CHILDREN whose lives will be ruined by homelessness.

homeless-children2

With the exception of any discussion or report from local government lobbies who never comment on such matters all the political and housing and electoral aspects of this heinous policy are finally getting discussed – all except the ruination of the life chances of at least 600,000 CHILDREN in the first full year.

To put that into context Christmas 2014 saw Shelter run a major awareness campaign which said it was outrageous that 93,000 children were homeless at Christmas 2014.  The first full year of the overall (housing) benefit cap reduction will sextuple that number, increase it six fold.

This is CHILDREN we are discussing as ‘collateral damage’

This is CHILDREN who are being punished for the alleged ‘sins’ of their parent(s)

Why does nobody see the abject horrors this policy holds and inevitably gives? Why are we, the general public, not up in arms over this?  Where the hell is the political opposition to this?

The House of Commons Research Report above cites Lord Freud telling the House of Lords on the 23rd January 2012  (note the date) that:

…a YouGov survey that found that 76 per cent of the public are in favour of the benefits cap. The overwhelming majority of people think there should be a limit to the amount of benefit those out of work can receive.

The public have been hoodwinked and deliberately so by the Conservatives over the benefit cap and have been told that a cap will cut the cost of welfare benefits which seems and obvious impact of a cap.  Yet as I reported back in February 2015 the cap actually costs more, some £440 million more in my figures and the IFS think tank say it is over £1 billion per year more (see end)

Yet back in 2011 the DWP Ministers including Freud and IDS and also Cameron himself were told by Pickles that the benefit cap would cost more in what has become known as the Pickles letter which was leaked to the Guardian.  Here is a small extract of that letter from Pickles private secretary to Cameron’s private secretary:

 

Firstly we are concerned that the savings from this measure, currently estimated ay £270m savings p.a from 2014-2015 does not take account of the additional costs to local authorities (through homelessness and temporary accommodation). In fact we think it is likely that the policy as it stands will generate a net cost.

So no wriggle room there for misinterpretation.  At some time before July 2011 the Conservatives knew at the highest levels that the benefit cap was going to cost more which was borne out in the official figures and it does cost more.

The reduction in the cap limit will cost even more and the eviction of 600,000 CHILDREN, making on average 50,000 CHILDREN per month homeless is merely about the Conservatives saving face and not being able to admit they were wrong.

Let’s make 50,000 CHILDREN homeless a month even though we know it doesn’t save a penny and costs more!  This is IDS all over.

He is a blag merchant and incompetent chancer who has developed politically engineered policy with no evidence base on the bag of a fag packet.  Now that his own departments figures prove he was wrong and his civil servants and I and the rest were right IDS does the usual trick of the incompetent blag merchant when discovered – he expands the programme to hide the true horrors by attempting to bury them.

That does not excuse the Labour Party who are Her Majesty’s Official Opposition and who also support the benefit cap and its reduction and even put this in their manifesto.   They are just as incompetent as the Conservatives on this and just as complicit.

They Labour Party know all about the Pickles Letter from 2011 and will have seen the IFS figures which said it cost £1 billion more yet they still support the benefit cap and its reduction and have not sought to make any political capital out of this at all.

The Labour Party supports 600,000 CHILDREN being made homeless

If the Daily Mail want to use the above as a banner headline please go ahead.  If the similarly right wing BBC want to use it as a headline, then please go ahead – both have run far more tenuous headlines

Even my reference above to John Healey Labour MP and former Housing Minister in today’s Daily Mirror was not about CHILDREN being made homeless but about the additional cost of housing benefit at £1.5 billion per year

In fact the Daily Mirror can also freely use the headline too

The Labour Party supports 600,000 CHILDREN being made homeless

One of the problems with the media is its overt right wing bias and so the headline that LABOUR supports children being made homeless has a far greater chance of greater awareness than saying the Conservatives support it.  It is Conservative policy yet Labour are still spineless and scared of being labelled the party OF welfare today as they were before the general election.

I frankly don’t give a shit about any political party as they are all the same – an informed view from my first degree which is in Politics  – and there is but a cigarette papers width between Labour and the Conservatives on social policy.

CHILDREN should be seen and not heard and deserve to be made homeless sees the social policy of ‘austerity’ – the British political mainstream of both major parties – go way beyond Thatcher’s Victorian Values

I do however give a shit about a minimum 600,000 CHILDREN having their life chances ruined by an incompetent government and a spineless opposition and all in the first year alone of the overall (housing) benefit cap reduction.

Shhhhh don’t tell anyone…

Anywhere But London – the 87% of social housing not in the capital and a plan for IDS

London, London, London, London, London!  When it comes to social housing all we hear is London and London and London.

That would be London that has the highest proportion of social housing anywhere in the country at 22% of all property and as high as 30% of all housing in Inner London yet moans like hell it needs more social housing

That would be London that accommodates 13% of the UK population yet typically swipes 80% of social housing grant and has done for decades.  So it gets all the money and buggers up the social housing model everywhere else because it shouts loudest.

That would be London with its truly perverse housing market that bears no resemblance whatsoever to the rest of the UK housing conditions yet all government housing policy is aimed at addressing its perverse housing issues and assuming they can solve the housing problems in the provinces!

All of the above are easy arguments to make for this Northerner in housing and are far from mere moans: There is plenty of valid merit in what the above first appears as rant and it all dovetails nicely with this governments attacks of social housing and on ‘welfare’ and its blame game strategies.

Let’s go (ever so slightly) beyond the government’s intention and force the sale of 20% of all social housing in London and recycle that as social housing grant for all other areas of the UK. Force the sale of social housing in London to front load the costs of building social housing in Devon, Darlington, Dundee and Dyfed.  Yes that’s one of the current government’s principles.

Social housing is a scarce national resource we are told by this government and it needs to be better utilised, better targeted and a better use of stock all round, so let’s sell off 20% of social housing in London which would still see it have 17.6% of its properties as social housing and above the national average of 17%.

It wouldn’t need 20% either but just 20% of London social housing properties that now receive housing benefit which is 111,348 households.  Let’s force the sale of them which at a cautious £250,000 a go would raise a £28 billion pot to be used for a massive social housebuilding project called ABL – Anywhere But London – and we could see 700,000 new social housing properties built in the rest of the UK each with a £40k capital grant or double the current figure and a figure the ‘sector’ wants.

An increase of 588,652 social housing properties in the rest of the UK and still leaving London with an average amount of social housing and saving the hard-working taxpayer a fortune in housing benefit too!

Cue all sorts of outrage at the temerity of setting London free to be the laissez-faire capital it wants to be yet existing home owners there would be jumping for joy as house prices rocket and then we would have apoplectic rage from London based housing associations  – the same who have shouted from the rooftops they have built more new housing this past year and slapping themselves on the back ….for building far more homes for sale than homes for social rent as this Inside Housing article states yet fails to comment on!

As far as Inside Housing is concerned and the naive housing association sector, it is all about How Many and nothing to do with the What is being developed.

Quantity Quantity Quantity and nothing more than quantity.

Yes let’s build more more more and quantity is king despite what these figures truly reveal – housing associations building for sale – a strategy which says that whatever past ethos and current pretensions housing associations have as being charitable organisations is bull and bluster with the thinnest smokescreen.

Below is a seminal graphic from that IH piece:

tippingpoint

I have nothing against housing associations differentiating into linked areas to further the social housing model they purport to value and simple schemes such as developing 15% of all new builds from private sales to cross subsidise the other up to 85% at social rent – or even 60% at social rent and 25% as LCHO vehicles are fine and necessary regrettably.

6 out of ever 7 new builds by housing associations last year were NOT for social rent

This reveals what housing associations have become; accumulators of housing as assets for the sake of it and overtly targeting only those in employment while abandoning the most vulnerable they say they will always house because it is our ethos

Affordable Rent (sic) is not affordable yet HAs developed 45% of all new build at the AR model, a financially toxic model given the reducing benefit cap limit to those on benefit AND to those working who then lose employment.

How long before IDS says why is the taxpayer funding the ‘subsidised sector’ to deliver housing that costs so much more in housing benefit and thus is a double taking of the urine by these so-called charitable organisations…even the regulator calls them PRIVATE Registered Providers yet they allude to be ethical community champions of the vulnerable!

Be under no illusion housing people that IDS at the DWP is far more powerful than whichever muppet is the minister at DCLG!

And my Anywhere But London issue above?  Yes that contains so many elements of existing government policy and the principles which underpin those policies.

  • The forced sell off of council properties.
  • The RTB2 issue for housing associations.
  • The ‘welfare’ diaspora from the capital and the social cleansing of it too with all the plebs not able to live in ‘prime real estate’ at the taxpayer largesse.

It would still leave London with the average social housing proportion of properties while fuelling an additional 600,000 genuinely affordable properties at social rent and with £40k grant per property and double the average now.  A Keynesian housebuilding programme and massively increased economic growth in all UK areas and at no cost to the Treasury!

Is the Anywhere But London plan really as perverse as it sounds and not just a bit of a rant from a Northerner?

Given that housing associations in London are perfectly happy with the principles of the above and willing to go along, as per usual, with whatever crumbs of funding are available regardless of longer term consequence then such a plan despite its many flaws could easily be implemented.

Anyone recall the huge kite of a few months back of work for two years and be given your social housing property for free that IDS flew?  The perverse ABL plan above has ten times more merit than that IDS plan and look at the political and economic and social benefits that IDS would laud out of this.

The political tagline for the bedroom tax was why should the shirker live in properties with spare bedrooms in areas that the the average hard working family could not afford!  You see any principled difference in that and the ABL plan above?

Surely this is just another Making Better Use of Stock or MBUS idea and with London house prices now the social housing tenant can aspire as much as they like yet they will NEVER be able to afford to buy there, so let’s cut the pretence and move these shirkers out of prime real estate from the capital to the provinces!

Finally, if this government is stupid enough to adopt this Anywhere But London plan, and let’s be honest none of us would put it past them as it has as much superficial spin as all other housing policy and far more merit, then moaning housing associations will only have themselves to blame as they have acquiesced to and welcomed all the underlying principles in the Anywhere But London plan.

 

The economic, social and political time is now for massive social rent housebuilding everywhere…except London

London has a population of 8.6 million which is 13 percent of the entire 64.6 million who live in the UK.  London, like many capital cities, is densely populated and people live on top of one another and starkly compared to the Scottish Highlands or Cornwall and it requires perverse and unique housing solutions.

So why is housing policy for the UK a response to the perverse and unique housing conditions in London and London alone? That is madness whether economically, politically or socially.  It doesn’t make any sense at all yet housing policy whether for home ownership, the private rented market or the social rented market is dictated by London’s perverse housing conditions and problems.  That has to stop.

Whether we are discussing very specific and pragmatic issues or whether it is just the politicians or media view of ‘housing’ in terms of concepts such as aspiration as to home ownership and electoral housing policy chicanery, the perversity of London’s housing conditions dominating UK-wide housing policy has to stop.

Leave aside the obvious such as housing density and truly bizarre house prices which gets all the political and media hype and focus and look at some very simple facts on tenure and the perversity of London dominating national housing policy becomes readily apparent.

frs-regional housing make up

Perverse London Housing

A) Home ownership – owned outright and mortgaged

  • Inner London has 38% of its housing owned or mortgaged compared to the English average of 63%
  • Outer London has 55% owned / mortgaged compared to the English average of 63% which is also the GB and UK average
  • London (Inner & Outer) has 49% of its housing owned / mortgaged compared with 63% in the UK

The table shows just how out of kilter this is with the rest of the regions as the 49% figure for all of London is more than 18% less than the North East which is the second lowest region for home ownership.

This leads to very false assumptions coming out of the dominant London-centric housing view that many more would want to own their own home but are unable to and ONLY because of cost.

That is patently false as it is also due to lack of supply as only 38% of housing in London is available to be bought and sold yet in the rest of the South East it is 69% of all housing properties which can be bought and sold and critically regardless of the total number of properties.

The perversity in London of the cost is the ONLY constraint argument which then fuels HomeBuy, Right to Buy and Right to Buy extended to housing associations is also a false premise which sees politicians promote in terms of electoral bungs and when resisted by social landlords they are accused of being against aspiration which is frankly ridiculous.

I aspire to owning a Maserati, and a Bugatti and holiday homes in the Caribbean and aspire to score the winner in the FA, European and World Cup finals and hitting the last ball of the final Ashes test for six to win the series!  We all aspire yet we all have to keep two feet on the ground at least some of the time and aspiration is just the latest political phrase for largely unrealistic hopes and dreams.

London has 22% of all housing being in the social rented sector overall (Inner 30%, Outer 18%) as above and that is way out of kilter with the UK average of 17%.

Note that the seemingly little 5% difference  (22 – 17) is in fact 29.4% more social housing than the average region and London like every capital city has to have a huge proportion of Indians not just aspiring or actual Chiefs in order to keep it running.

Of course it follows that even the most ‘menial’ of jobs of these Indians pays more in capital cities and so house prices also increase whether to buy or rent and we now have the Living Wage gaining political momentum at £9.15 per hour or £18,556 per annum gross in London.  Double that to £37,112 per annum gross and you still have no prospect whatsoever of home ownership in London.  It has bugger all to do with aspiration in reality, it is all about practicality.

Now let’s dig a bit deeper and see who lives in the different tenures and this will surprise many at just how radically different the tenant make up and if you will reveal the PURPOSE of social housing

frs-homeownership

As you can see 50% of social renting tenants are either pensioners or in receipt of Disability Living Allowance and this compares to just 15% in the private rented sector.  That is a huge difference which invariably is never considered in any discussions regarding rented housing.

It is highly unlikely that the pensioner of a disabled social tenant aspires to home ownership, it is impractical even on the availability of a mortgage basis alone never mind other practical issues such as affordability and adaptations and the rest, even if desired.

One in two social tenants will never have any reasonable aspiration of home ownership outside of winning the lottery and so for Brandon Lewis the housing minister to say social landlords are against aspiration per se as he did at CIH 2015 conference this week only shows his ignorance of who lives in social housing aside from the offensive nature of labelling social landlords guilty and having to prove their innocence.

Put another way for a wider social housing aspect the same figures also show that the private rented sector simply does not DO housing for the older person or those with a disability.  Delve a little deeper on receipt of disability benefits by tenure and we see that:

  • ESA – 2% of owners: 4% of PRS tenants and 11% of SRS tenants receive
  • AA – 3% of owners; 1% of PRS tenants and 4% of SRS tenants receive
  • IB – 1% of owners and 1% of PRS tenants yet 3% of SRS tenants

Three to four times the percentage of disabled households are in social housing than in privately rented housing and again unlikely to be aspiring home owners which again proves the PURPOSE of social housing is largely the ONLY option to accommodate those who are vulnerable and UNABLE to ever afford to buy.

Look at bit deeper still as to likely / unlikely aspiring home owners and we see that 4% of home owners get Pension Credit, just 3% of PRS tenants yet 16% of SRS tenants – so over 5 times as many in social than private housing to add to the state pension figures of 31% SRS and just 9% PRS in the table.

As an aside note well here social landlords that I said two days ago that the DWP has admitted that up to £3.47 billion of Pension Credit goes unclaimed and as you have over 5 times the claimants of PC than in private rented then they are highly likely to be your tenants.

You know all those claims you make that our welfare teams have got out tenants £xxx per year more in benefits this year(!!) and given that your rent software can easily identify precisely who COULD claim Pension Credit then get your fingers out.

Of course I would not expect social landlords to go to the next stage and train up and fund their tenant groups to do the leg work and help find the other £10 billion in ‘welfare’ that goes unclaimed and would but huge amounts of goodwill for social landlords.  That is far too sensible and despite most of the unclaimed ‘welfare’ is likely to be found in social housing given the make up of its ‘customers!’  That complex time-consuming and labour intensive job finds no favour in tick box in-house social landlord welfare teams which they laud to high heaven!!

To get back on point Social Housing serves a huge PURPOSE and gives huge benefit to the country is also what these figures mean.  If pensioner and disabled households did not have social housing they would have to live in the PRS and cost the country billions more in housing benefit – again a point never seemingly made that social housing provides an extremely cost-effective public service.

Yet do not let the above benefit by tenure statistics mislead as the social housing tenant could also be described as the epitome of the ‘hard-working’ family the politicians are so beloved of uttering at every turn.  Receipt of working tax credit has to be the epitome of the hard-working family as it is only paid to those in low paid employment and the figures are 4% for home owners; 11% for PRS tenants and 13% for social tenants.

So more social tenants are prepared to ‘get off their backsides’ and take up low paid employment than private tenants or home owners and that is another facet and benefit of social housing …

…It enables far less dependency on benefit than the higher cost private rented sector and social tenants can afford to take up low paid employment more so than the private tenant who has to be able to earn more to afford higher rent.

Again all we hear from politicians is social housing encourages welfare dependency when the exact opposite is the case.  Of tenants that, critically, are able to work, more social tenants than private tenants take up low paid employment yet politicians always tend to miss out that important caveat as it destroys the credibility of their increasing arguments to blame their failures on those receiving benefit.

And that brings me back to London.  The working social tenant will receive far less in working tax credit than the same social tenant in the North because wages are so much higher in London.  Yet another consequence of that is many employers in the capital only want to pay the national minimum wage and so that only attracts the migrant from Eastern Europe all the more and logically so because Britons can’t afford to survive in London on the NMW as the cost of living there is so much higher than in the North.

So housing policy is dictated by superficial assumptions that because London has plenty of employment opportunities then all who are not working must be shirkers.  Yet as stated above despite London having a very large social housing percentage at 22% overall (30% in Inner London and 18% in Outer) which is 29% higher than the national average at 17%, 50% or more are either pensioners and not expected to work or will be unable to work through disability

A further percentage of social tenants will be lone parents who are also not expected to work as they have children under school age too – yet social / housing policy sees the benefit cap forcing them out of the capital just as it does to private lone parents too.

If you wont work then get the hell out of prime real estate London is the political spin behind such welfare reforms yet the not expected to work pensioner is exempt while the not expected to work lone parent household of working age is a mere shirker!

Inner London by virtue of having almost double the national average social housing supply at 30% to 17% sees the often not expected to work lone parent ostracised and pilloried and of course aided and abetted by the Daily Mail et al who sees all lone parents as sluts – apologies for terminology yet that is what the DM et al arguments say – when lone parenthood can just as easily derive from sole wage-earner hubby running off with his secretary or any one of scores of reasons for family breakdown and divorce that happens in all parts of the country and in all other countries too.

The Daily Mail et al hyperbole is no replacement for evidenced based policy in the national interest yet it holds sway as it is aided and abetted by poverty porn TV.

The results of such welfare policy is that social housing in the capital is much more affected with the benefit cap than any other part of the UK and sees social tenant flight from Inner to Outer London and way beyond to London to Hull or even John O’Groats to Land’s End.

That is the problem with welfare reforms based on pithy back of a fag packet political slogans and takes no account whatsoever of the impacts or the perverse housing conditions that London has, and with no recognition that social housing is the ONLY viable option for over 50% of its tenants who are unable to work through disability and because those not expected to work are given no consideration ahead of policy implementation.

The blame for that lies just as much with social landlords as with the Daily Mail and Poverty Porn TV as the social landlord ‘sector’ has never stated who its customer is and why it is the ONLY housing choice for so many and not just on cost grounds.

Social housing according to the Daily Mail / Benefit Street narrative is replete with just shirkers and scroungers who could work and should work yet choose not to work and that assumption is hugely false as the above official figures in the Family Resource Survey reveal.

What a detailed look at who lives where and benefit by tenure we move way beyond the simple and often quoted Baroness Hollins in the House of Lords debate on Housing Spending Review 4 November 2010:

 “The truth is that homes are only cheap where there are no jobs, so I would ask the question that the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, asks: should the jobless from Middlesbrough move to London where there may be jobs but no homes, or should the homeless from London move to Middlesbrough where there are homes but no jobs?”

This statement is of course false. There are plenty of homes in London in social housing and there they are in much greater numbers and proportion to the rest of the UK and almost double the proportion in Inner London than the national average and almost triple the number of social housing by proportion to the South West at 30% to 11%.  Even Outer London at 18% of all housing being social rented is 38% higher in proportion to the rest of the South East at 13%.

Yet all we ever hear is that London has a chronic need for more social housing and that is patently false as both Outer and Inner London have higher than the national average 17% social housing in the rest of the UK.

What London has overall is 22% of all housing being in the SRS and the national average is 17% so London, Inner and Outer has almost 30% per cent more social housing than the average region of the UK.  Yes I’ve said that a few times now as this FACT is rarely raised yet needs to be.

Just to take the South West up to the national average would require a 55% increase in social housing in the South West and to rebalance all parts of the UK with the national average would see Outer London reduce its social housing by 6% and see Inner London reduce its social housing by 76%!

London has in reality and fact far too much private rented housing and far too little home ownership yet there have been no calls to reduce London’s private rented sector at all which stands at 29% of all property compare to the 19% national average or 53% above the national average; and only calls for more home ownership there being with bungs to social tenants through RTB or the convoluted HomeBuy scheme.

The statement is right in that Middlesbrough (and many other places) have too few jobs and creating jobs tends to fuel house price increases.  Yet whatever happened to employment being fixed to location in this digital age?  Why is there a need to have an intrinsic link between higher employment and higher house prices?

All the digital advocates in housing at the moment may claim all they wish about digital only yet are we any further on than BBC Tomorrow’s World predictions from almost 50 years ago which said in the 21st Century we would all have twice the leisure time and our work would not depend on where we chose to live as it would all be digital?  The answer is no.

So to solve the housing crisis, and there is no doubt that there is a shortage of housing, why the hell is the social housing sector and the media in housing and nationally simply calling for more affordable properties in London?  It makes no sense whatsoever!

It makes even less practical sense when we have the SHOUT report finally making the economic case for more social housing per se, which it does admirably…. in theory:   Yet the practical implementation of it is undoubtedly limited to how much money any government is prepared to find.

So even if the SHOUT campaign convinces the politicians either directly or through the general public, then only a set figure will be released as ‘subsidy’ (and why the hell does the sector still use that pejorative term!!!) or more correctly capital investment to save the country far more – the fiscal myopia in the current and last three decades policy.

If the current miserly £1.125 billion per year is increased to say £10 billion then why on earth is the housing sector hell-bent on spending that cash limited pot in London?  Spend it in the South West where it will (a) go further and (b) deliver more supply to reduce the supply crisis more quickly.

If government is prepared to spends billions on high-speed fibre broadband in rural areas in order to increase job creation there then it surely must see the argument to increase genuinely affordable social rent provision in rural areas such as much of the South West. This same government has shelved HS2 to the North yet kept it to the South West and the same argument is there also.

I am not overtly or deliberately making a case for more social rent affordable properties in the South West I hasten to add I am merely following the logical argument here and getting away from THE most illogical argument which is more social housing in the capital!

The real problem for all governments including this one and those that follow is home ownership has reduced to 63% from a peak of nearer 70% some 20 or so years ago.  It seems highly likely this will remain closer to 63% than 70% and so leaves the other 37% to be split between social housing and privately rented housing.

  • The PRS does NOT house the older person or deliver sheltered housing.
  • The PRS does not DO disabled or adapted housing
  • Each PRS property with a benefit tenant costs almost 24% more in housing benefit or revenue subsidy.
  • Each PRS property is far more welfare dependent than a SRS property because it needs a greater employment offer to move from benefit to work in the PRS than it does in the SRS

All of the above is what is known as stating the bloody obvious!  If this and succeeding governments wish to reduce the housing benefit bill the answer is simple – have a much higher proportion of social rent properties than private rented ones!

Also have them in areas such as the South West as genuinely affordable rents is a hugely important inward investment incentive there as it is in the North West or North East or Wales with much higher levels of unemployed social tenants who are ready and able to work and thereby reduce the housing benefit bill further.

However this government is big on political rhetoric and in minus figures for evidenced based policy and common sense.  You get greater employment and less all round benefit spend if you build more social housing at social rent in any area other than London.

Such a move would really be ASPIRATIONAL ….yet that requires the ability to think and use an evidence base for policy rather than political rhetoric, and God forgive me for saying this but it would also lead to a higher than 26% national vote for the Conservatives too!

Politics is the art of the possible said Bismarck and the chances of Labour returning to power in 2020 are as high as Bismarck being its next leader.  So, as much as I do not want to admit that the Tories will be in power until 2025 they will be.

The potential at least in theory benefit of that for those at the bottom of the income scale, the vulnerable, those not expected to work and those unable to work is that IF the Tories had any shred of common sense and any economic sense and their patriotism was not the last refuge of scoundrels rather than a pretence of working in the national interest, they are genuinely in a position to adopt the Keynesian policies of mass social housing development in all areas bar London and reap the rewards of that for all of the country – which is what the country needs.

Now that the Labour Party has moved miles to the right of the right-wing Blairite New Labour project there is no hope at all for a left-wing political solution to the jobs and housing and other crises we face – the austerity project. The political left is in for a decade or more of turmoil and in-fighting (plus ca change indeed!) and I would love to be proven wrong on that yet I doubt strongly I will be.

If this government carries on with its austerity economics however such as the bedroom tax, benefit cap, LHA cap and SAR cap – its four policies aimed directly at reducing the housing benefit bill that has seen it increase by £440m per year or up to £1 billion more per year as the IFS think tank says, then the chances of the left galvanising more quickly increases.

I expect both of those to happen; the austerity back of a fag packet policies of the Tories will continue and ramp up causing a £24 billion per year increase in ‘welfare’ when UC finally rolls out, which is the current DWP estimate of unclaimed yet due ‘welfare’ – and the left will organise more quickly

The Tories have nothing to fear politically or electorally from Labour or indeed the left (two separate issues) and nothing to fear from the right with the UKIP threat over as they have one parliamentary seat and are having even more in-fighting than Labour or whatever leftist party emerges to replace Labour if Labour continues on its rightist road.

The UKIP let’s get out of the EU one trick pony campaign will undoubtedly fail Leaving Cameron in a stronger position than any modern PM since the early Thatcher days and she radically used that power, unfortunately 90% of it in the wrong areas.

Big business will not allow the UK to leave the EU nor should we in my view for many reasons and Cameron unlike Thatcher does not have a Heseltine or any other viable political threat waiting in the wings to take his job.

Boris Johnson…as the Prime Minister?  Not a hope in hell’s chance as while the electorate may have voted this lot back in and they clearly have a perverse sense of humour, there is no way they will ever want Boris as the UK leader.  Is there any other serious challenge to Cameron? Theresa May? No! Osborne? No!  And as from the Tory ultra right throw the Cash some Bone in terms of the let’s put the Great back into Great Britain wing of the Tory Party and Cash and Bone are two ultra rightist deluded Tory MPs.

In short Cameron has a good ten years if he wants it and when he is backed in the referendum and we stay in the EU, the Tory Party will be begging him to stay on as he is the only one who can stop them imploding after the huge in-fighting the referendum will give to the Tory Party.

I have waffled here reader – it’s been one of those days when I go from one subject to another yet they are all interlinked in my obtuse brain influenced by 20 odd years in housing with my first degree in politics looking at all dimensions of the housing crises (plural) we have right now.

The national political agenda as well as the internal housing politics that has the UK housing sector dominated by the London centric brigade who has held 99% of the sway for the last 40 years and frankly buggered up social housing for the 87% of housing not in the capital all come together

Social housings ‘great and good’ (ahem!) have been a benign lobby, a mute lobby and an incompetent one and their only successes have been to swipe up 80% of the capital grant of the whole of the UK for just London.

That is why London has far more social housing than any other area in actual and proportional terms.  I doubt the ‘great and good’ have ever looked at who lives in social housing, the who is my customer question that every business needs to look at else they would have known that more than half of social tenants are the not expected to work pensioner and the unable to work disabled household.

They would have told each and every government over the past 30 years and more that any naive comparison between the SRS at 67% of all claiming housing benefit and just 27% of all PRS tenants was and is fundamentally flawed and they are not like for like.

They would have told all governments over the past 30 years or more that the last place you should be building new social housing is London yet that is precisely what they have done and frankly buggered it up for the other 87% of the country regarding social rented housing.

So while this has rambled on it contains some very powerful arguments to all the incompetent politicians whether they dwell in parliament or whether they form the ‘great and the good’ of social housing.

Far, far more importantly, who the hell in their right minds thinks London needs more social housing and that will solve the housing crisis?  Oh yes the ‘great and the good’ of social housing and in a generation too – yes a generation is 25 – 33 years so the generation ending this year began with the Falklands War and Renee and Renato!

________________________________________

PS – Ok 0.0001% of this argument comes from a Northerner; the other 99.9999% is merely reasoned argument

£66 million PER DAY (£24 billion per year) in ‘welfare’ goes unclaimed

The Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) has finally got around to producing a report they last did in June 2011 – How much welfare benefits goes unclaimed in simple terms.

£66 MILLION OF WELFARE GOES UNCLAIMED EVERY DAY IN THE UKukcoins

This is as much as £15.657 billion per year in Pension Credit, Income Support, ESA, JSA and Housing Benefit alone.  It will be more when all welfare benefits are included.

In June 2011 HMRC also published a report stating that £8.344 billion per year in Tax Credits goes unclaimed.  If that is the same this makes a staggering £24 billion in ‘welfare’ that goes unclaimed. £24 Billion is £66 million per day!

The government are struggling to find half of that or £12 billion in cuts.

More significant is when Universal Credit is fully rolled out UC provides a one stop assessment for all benefit and tax credit you are entitled to and pays out that amount.

Universal Credit will cost at least £24 billion per year more in welfare as it pays 100% of what you are entitled to – not a penny more and not a penny less as I have often said and last did in February this year saying it would cost at least £20 billion per year MORE.

Ergo, Universal Credit is just another back of a fag packet politically motivated policy from the I believe it will work mentality of Iain Duncan Smith and his own departments figures in this report prove that.

The Detail

The report referenced above has a title which states its purpose

takeup report 201314

The overview or executive summary on page 3 states all we need to know and I have emphasised the take-up / non take-up of each benefit mentioned by expenditure (from another official DWP report) and then cross-referenced this to arrive at the above figures.

Page 3 says

takeup report 201314 - details

Here’s the numbers bit (not as difficult as it may read) and I explain this for Pension Credit figures and the same method applies to Income Support, Employment Support Allowance, Job Seekers Allowance and Housing Benefit and summarise in a table below.

Pension Credit

  • The report says in money terms (expenditure) that the DWP paid out between 67 per cent and 73 per cent of what was entitled in financial year 2013/14.
  • We know from another DWP official report that the amount it paid out was £7.042 billion in Pension Credit (see below)
  • So this £7.042 billion is between 67% of what should have been paid or the entitled amount is £10.510 billion or 73% ot what was paid out making the entitled amount and what should have been paid out between £9.647 billion and £10.510 billion.
  • What has actually been paid in Pension Credit was therefore £2.605 to £3.468 billion LESS than what should have been.

OR – Up to £3.468 billion per year has gone unclaimed by those who were entitled to it.

AND – Once Universal Credit rolls out given it pays you 100% of all the benefits and tax credits you are entitled to with its one stop assessment then once UC does roll out this £3.468 billion of Pension Credit that now goes unpaid will be paid.

The same happens for all of the other benefits mentioned in the report and I summarise that in the table below.

take up table unclaimed 2013-14

That as you can see details up to £15.657 billion per year that the DWP admits that it knows claimants are entitled to yet do not claim.

£42 million per day in just 5 welfare benefits alone goes unclaimed

The data for actual spend is as referenced above and here is a compilation of screenshots which show it is expenditure costs and for 2013/14 which is the same financial year as the non-take up report that I have emphasised in red.

201314expenditurewelbenefits

The £8.344 billion of Tax Credits (working tax credit and child tax credits combined) which went unclaimed I reported here in June 2012 though I note that HMRC has now archived the details but I will dig them out just in case anyone disputes them.

So in summary we have £24 billion per year of ‘welfare’ that we know goes unclaimed and the government (DWP & HMRC) admits to – the best part of £66 million PER DAY of welfare to which people are entitled to, goes unclaimed. And note well this only accounts for the non take up of just 5 welfare benefits so it will be more than this.

Finally, just in case anyone chooses to make an argument that this means UK benefits are too high I leave you with the findings of the Council of Europe (and nothing to do with EU and pre-dates it too) which said last week that UK Pensions, Incapacity and Job Seeker Allowance levels are MANIFESTLY UNJUST or not just low but shockingly low!

coemanifestly inadequate benefits

So just who is CONning who when it comes to welfare!

 

Gorbachev takes the reins at UK social housing

Earlier this week I tweeted that what a delegate at the CIH conference spends on a latte is the same as a bedroom tax household spends on food in a day.

This is a broadly correct yet simple analogy and the figures come from the excellent Real life Reform series of reports here (pdf) with the average spend on food per day being £3.63 and putting it in such a way resonates.

CIH delegates may not be drinking that much coffee yet they have been waking up and smelling it as some very open, honest and courageous realism is coming out in speech after speech and this is social housing’s glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) and not before time.

glasnost

 

The Openness?

Today sees Tony Stacey head of Placeshapers saying that housing associations may abandon the benefit tenant given the welfare reforms (sic) – a very courageous statement that holds much validity and something I have said many times over the past few years and received plenty of flak for saying too. Maybe housing people will abandon the blame the messenger position they have used frequently now that number 2 in the most powerful housing list has said the same.

Today also sees Nick Atkin – number 3 in the housing power players list – saying the welfare reforms:

(a) DO attack the core business of social housing:

“I think if your core product is under threat, then any business would be foolhardy not to look at diversification…

(b) Radical responses are needed, and

“If someone says to you, ‘You’re going to lose potentially half of your readership’, you’d start thinking about doing something very radically different.”

(c) Housing is NOT a sector:

“It’s only one of two times a year that everybody comes together and tries to have a collective voice or form a view on some of the big issues that are facing us,

Again very bold and open yet very correct assertions and also what I have received plenty of flak for saying for a number of years.

Just before the CIH 2015 housing conference we had the SHOUT report written by an unashamed right-wing laissez-faire economist who said it would be madness – fiscal myopia – for the government NOT to invest in building 100,000 homes for social rent per year.  Another of the arguments I have been saying for years and getting flak for too – we need to sell the huge economic benefits of the social housing model as I said back in 2012

There was also the intriguing yet somewhat convoluted Living Rent Model proposed by JRF and Savills which seems to conflate elements of the now financially toxic affordable rent model with elements of the (hopefully!) now abandon pay more to stay perverse and unworkable kite flown by the Tories a few years ago.  I am not taken with this at all but it could be seen as a radical alternative yet whether it is workable I have very strong doubts

Restructuring?

perestroika

Ah! Just like Gorbachev and his successors found it is one thing being open and admitting the problems, it is an entirely different matter doing something about them.  Hello my name is housing and I’m an alcoholic still needs to find a sober path.

Here is where I go way beyond the comments from Nick Atkin and Tony Stacy and the SHOUT campaign

A few weeks back 24Dash magazine asked 25 housing people for their views on social housing in light of the unexpected general election result.  23 are social housing Chief Executives and for some reason – perhaps controversy who knows – I was asked too.

The vast majority of responses were lets wait and see or we have to get on with it and of course the myopic focus on right to buy for housing association proposals was uppermost in the housing CEOs minds.  What was also evident was the schism in social housing between the modernists and the traditionalists on how housing develops – the old ethos of always housing the vulnerable of the traditionalists to the lets develop a strong private sector / houses for profit modernists – a schism which conveniently(?) deflects from the real underlying and CORE issues which Nick Atkin now accepts.

Yet here is what I said:

joeh24dash

I stated loud and clear the immediate and most pressing need was for housing people to BECOME a sector and that collective strength was vital to preserve the social housing model which underpins the modernists and traditionalists and every form of social housing governance and operation.

Housing has been under attack because it is an easy target – a purported sector that is so divided and only meet once or twice a year and hence so easily conquered.  Almost all of the challenges or attacks to social housing affect all social landlords whether modernist or traditionalist and unity is strength and unity is what the ‘sector’ does not have because it meets once or twice a year.

It needs a radical shake-up and as I said above I fear it is beyond the ‘sector’ yet hope to God I am wrong.  It needs to pull its collective finger out very sharpish indeed now that this new denouement of social housing is under attack and the ‘sector’ does have plenty to fear from Conservative policy has finally become the accepted norm.

While crude and simplistic all social landlords should develop a UK wide social housing lobby organisation to fight for all of social housing whether HA or ALMO or LA landlord and whether traditionalist or modernist a simple precept of 2p per social rent per week or £1 per year gives a £4 million per year organisation to do just that.

Hardly radical and yes simplistic but something along those lines is needed – a body and lobby independent of the housing establishment and the usual suspects whose inept lobbying has seem social housing failure since the original right to buy.

Tony Stacey’s bold and courageous speech which says some housing associations may target many more working only tenants and refuse to take new benefit tenants is what WILL happen and we have already seen that in the tightening of allocation procedures as a result of the bedroom tax and that will go much further, out of financial necessity, with the benefit cap.

Tony has bravely raised the shibboleth of we will always house the vulnerable and questioned that.  I go much further and say the benefit cap impacts will mean social landlords will abandon the biggest sacred cow of the lot in Ground 8 use.

It is an inevitability given the scale of the benefit cap shortfalls and out of financial sustainability as social landlords seek to move the reported £7k average eviction cost down nearer the £4 – £5k of financial risk per year the benefit cap presents on average.

Of course the ‘sector’ will not admit that they are seriously discussing the regular use of Ground 8 – something unimaginable a few years or even months ago – yet they are considering it and have to.

In the same way the benefit cap may force social landlords into social dumping – evicting the benefit cap household and passing on the huge financial cost of them to local councils. Again we will see nothing but abject denial and outrage at this view publicly yet in private anyone involved in social housing realises this is a high probability while despising the idea of it.

The SHOUT report was or at least could be seminal in that it presents a compelling economic case for the social housing model…YET it needs to be public facing.  Persuade the general public of the merits and benefits of social housing and government will be forced to listen as they demand it in simple terms.

I tweeted the other day that CIH 2015 delegates probably spend as much on a latte as the average household spends per day on food.  Such simple analogies resonate and it comes from the excellent (yet intra-housing focused) Real Life Reform reports say this is £3.63 per day on food.

Combine the two reports and overtly target the general public with such simple messages – a job for the urgently needed sector wide lobby above – and the only problem with that idea is that such simple ideas still appear radical and unobtainable to the ‘sector.’

I regularly speak with many social tenants and social housing activists all over the UK and have for some time now while campaigning against the bedroom tax and other reforms (sic) and the ‘sector’ just wouldn’t want to know how few of them have read the Real Life Reform and SHOUT reports.  It is in single figures in percentage terms and low single figures and that simply has to change as they are both excellent in hat they are and say – but they are just not saying it outside of housing or outside of government.  Anyone would think the 6 million plus adults living in social housing alone were not the electorate!!

That would be the electorate who admitted their children could not afford to get on the home ownership ladder and could not afford high private rent and so the ONLY option open to them is….?  Go on have a guess!!

We also all know as I said yesterday when I reported that DHPs will be more than halved that this will see a huge upsurge in bedroom tax evictions and thousands were put on hold before the election and now they will really start to flow.

I find just writing the above as distasteful as it reads yet that is the reality of the attacks upon social housing and precisely why it needs a true sector, why it needs a radical response and why the glasnost that is flowing from CIH 2015 needs to continue and find its perestroika.

If it doesn’t the alcoholic social housing will drink itself to a very early death and 90 per cent proof Russian Vodka appears very much on the menu.

The CIH conference has dragged social housing into 1985 (from about 1955) and it needs to drag itself kicking and screaming another 30 years to 2015, not in a generation (25 – 33 years) but in 30 days and needs to both build on its glasnost and kick start its perestroika…hmm!

 

 

DHPs to halve in this Parliament in DWP official figures – Huge surge in bedroom tax evictions!

The DWP released official projections on all benefits with the 2015 budget and there are tables and tables of data to pore over.

Given the huge speculation over the £12 billion of welfare cuts – and note extremely well the term welfare cuts has always been used not welfare benefit cuts – these tables I have looked at again and they hold plenty of nasty surprises for social housing.

These data tables are very revealing and I will probably draft many posts from them.

For example, while we already knew the DHP budget this year has been reduced to £125 million from £165 million, itself a fall of 24%, the DWP projections have this falling by a further £40 million next year down to £85 million or roughly half of the 2014/15 figure.

So just as we see the bedroom tax being joined by the far greater cuts of the benefit cap (and even speculation that all HB claimants will get a 10% cut) the mitigation in DHP is going to reduce by almost 50%!

Here is Table 3a from those figures and I have emphasised the DHP figure. (Click on to enlarge)

 

hb forecasts - budget 2015 table 2.1

In Table 2b of the same we see a slightly more accurate picture as this is in real terms and shows a greater reduction of DHP allocations to local councils at a time when bedroom tax will increase due to rent inflation and especially as the benefit cap reduction will give a huge transfer of cost from central to local government.

Note that my projection of the reduction in the benefit cap to £23k per year which gave an additional £2.68 billion cost to local government was in the first full year.  Yet as the cap figure will at best remain a constant and rents will increase the cuts and ensuing homeless cost to local government will rise each year of this parliament.

In real terms the DWP forecast just a £82 million allocation in 2019/20 when last financial year 2014/15 it was more than double this at £165 million.

dhp table 2b

A few months back I stated that DHPs will massively swing away from bedroom tax purposes to benefit cap purposes as LAs seek to reduce eviction and their own increased costs of homelessness.  That still holds yet given that DHP in real terms will halve over the parliament the likelihood is that next financial year 2016/17 the DHP for bedroom tax purposes will be as rare as hen’s teeth.

The bedroom tax affected tenant who now has a DHP will no longer receive one

The social landlords who have relied upon bedroom tax DHPs  – nearly £81m was given in 2013/14 for bedroom tax DHPs – will see a further £81 million of arrears risk on top of the current level.

dhpspent

Right now social landlords have a conveyor belt of bedroom tax related evictions just waiting to be switched on – a backlog of evictions they have held back on awaiting the outcome of the general election.  They are not saying this of course yet it is there and especially in the hardest hit areas of the county such as the North West and in Wales generally and in much of the North East too.  Yet there is no doubt such evictions are waiting to go.

The realisation that DHPs for bedroom tax will disappear will see a huge surge in bedroom tax related evictions taking place.

The only saving grace in that is the Supreme Court hearing of MA & Ors in March 2016.  In brief the bedroom tax has been found to be discriminatory to disabled persons (definition to be defined) yet permissible because of the availability of DHPs to mitigate.

Yet as a DHP for bedroom tax purposes will be as rare as hen’s teeth then surely that must play a significant part in the Supreme Court’s judgment. Then again relying on the courts for bedroom tax succour and especially by way of judicial review…the less said about that the better

The bedroom tax which is now in its 116th week of an average £15.26 per week cut in 2015/16 figures or £796 per year has another 254 weeks to go until the next general election is going to see many tens of thousands of bedroom tax households evicted.

The expected massive cuts to DHP budgets and their virtual abolition for bedroom tax cases may well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for bedroom tax evictions.