The Tories WILL cut pensioner benefits. It’s an inevitability as the figures prove

If the words of the Chancellor George Osborne are to be believed then the Tories WILL be cutting pensioner benefits after the next election.  There is no doubt about this whatsoever.

1. What has Osborne said?

Osborne alarmed Duncan Smith and angered Clegg when he said on Monday that £25bn in spending reductions, due to be imposed between 2016-17 and 2017-18, would have to include £12bn in welfare cuts.

The Guardian reported on this here and stated in this article that Clegg called this a monumental mistake, which it is as pensioner cuts are electoral suicide for any political party.

Conservative sources said Osborne’s intervention – a proposal that also promptedNick Clegg to publicly warn that the chancellor is in danger of making a “monumental mistake” – had highlighted stark differences of approach between the chancellor and Duncan Smith over how to reform Britain’s social security system. Osborne demanded that roughly half of future spending cuts in the next parliament come from the welfare budget.

2. What is the welfare budget broken down by pensioner and working-age spend?

We have a definitive answer on this from IDS as Hansard records and this is the total welfare spend is £170 billion with 68% or £116 billion going to the pensioner and 32% or £54 billion to working-age:

benefitspend

 

So we see the figures – those pesky things called FACT – that the Tories require £12 billion of welfare benefit cuts as a matter of stated policy and the Tories are at pains to say they will not cut pensioner benefits.  So this £12 billion must have to come from the £54 billion paid to those of working-age.

3. Is it possible to cut welfare benefits to working-age claimants by 22.22%?

Reducing the working-age benefit bill from £54 billion to £42 billion is what the Tories would have to do – a cut of 22.22% – and this cannot be achieved.

The Tories will HAVE to cut pensioner benefits

That is the only conclusion that follows from this stated policy aim of reducing the welfare benefit bill by £12 billion per year.  In terms of money and in terms of fact there is no contention there at all yet the Tories are at pains to say this will not happen.

The fact the Tories WILL HAVE TO CUT PENSIONER BENEFITS is a given in order to achieve the £12 billion per year saving sought by the Chancellor.

What have the Tories said?

No we wont be taking away the free TV licences (£606m cut) from pensioners they say or the Winter Fuel Allowance (£2.14 billion)

TV licence cost as DWP official figures reveals

benefitcost-tvl

Winter Fuel Payment cost

benefitcost-wfp

 

Then a few days ago we had the Daily Telegraph ‘intimating’ (ahem!!) with very detailed figures in what they now say was merely an ‘intellectual exercise’ that £400 million a year could be saved from applying the bedroom tax to ALL 515,000 under occupying pensioners in social housing as I reported here and 99.999%+ agreed with.  This saw abject pomposity of the Telegraph journalist accusing me of (a) misleading and (b) frightening the pensioner!  I refer back to the figures above as strong support for my view that the pensioners will HAVE to see their benefits cut to achieve the £12 billion cuts per year that HM Treasury is imposing on the DWP and also ask who raised the bedroom tax pensioner imposition?

An interesting aside is the only other ‘naysayer’ to my opinion was Inside Housing which is revealing as to the political leanings of Inside Housing but this is a far bigger issue than a spat between myself and Carl Brown.

That leads into the Tories claims on the biggest welfare spend area outside of the state pension and where they have to date aimed to reduce the welfare benefit bill – Housing Benefit.

The Housing Benefit Bill (again DWP figures)

benefitcost-hb

As you can see despite (a) the bedroom tax, and (b) the overall benefit cap; and (c) the LHA cap; and (d) the SAR cap, which are the four principal ‘welfare reform(sic)’ policies aimed directly at reducing the Housing Benefit bill those policies have failed as the HB cost has increased.  A more detailed consideration of this which proves that the HB cost has increased in real terms and has not saved a penny can be found here.

Yet the Tories still tinker with HB with perverse and yet more ill-conceived plans to ‘save’ by taking away the entitlement of those aged under 21 to its receipt that will achieve a negligible apparent saving that will then see the overall bill rise 5 fold by eviction and temporary homeless HB costs for them!  Note well too that this policy provides a perverse incentive to get pregnant as those under 21 with children will still be able to receive HB!

No doubt the Tories will continue to then claim savings will come from Universal Credit and note Cameron said the above plan will be paid for by £20m of the savings from Universal Credit here.  However Universal Credit will cost at least £20 billion per year more as I detailed here and because UC is a system of a single assessment that means everyone gets not a penny more and not a penny LESS than entitled to.  The same DWP admitting in 2011 that almost £20 billion a year goes unclaimed in HB, Tax Credits and Pension Credits that will have to be paid under UC.

In order to achieve the £12 billion of stated cuts to the overall welfare benefit bill the Tories will have to make £32 billion of cuts – the stated £12 billion plus the additional minimum cost of £20 billion per year in Universal Credit.

Anyone care to tell me how the Tories will find at least £32 billion of cuts from the £54 billion working-age welfare benefit bill – a mere 60% cut to the current bill?

The Tories will have no alternative but to cut back on pensioner benefits.  They will have to cut them.

Comment

Many wish to label me as some leftish scaremongerer and they are free to do so however much of a deflection and ostrich syndrome that is.

What the above reveals in factual terms is that if Labour come into power in ten weeks time they will still have the same economic problems if they continue with the Universal Credit programme.

This is about economic competence not about my political leanings and for the record I am not a Labour supporter nor will I vote for them.

Labour has said it will get rid of the bedroom tax but not said anything at all about the benefit cap, LHA and SAR caps which also cost more than they cut.  Labour is wary of but still wedded to Universal Credit despite the fact it will add at least £20 billion per year to the overall welfare benefit bill as everyone will get not a penny LESS than they are entitled to.

In political terms, the Labour Party is petrified of making a bigger issue out of the bedroom tax and other welfare reforms (sic) in fear of being labelled the party OF welfare waste as the Tories have played that card incredibly cleverly through their superficial savings claims from these reforms (sic – as to reform means to improve) and the constant berating of the welfare benefit recipient as the scrounger and shirker.

I am just naive in the hope that policy should be evidence-led that when considered proves the ‘austerity agenda’ is just an euphemism for superficial cuts that cost more.  It is very difficult to explain to Joe Public that cuts and caps means the bill increases and they are forced to pay increased amounts in taxation whether directly through income tax or indirectly through VAT and hundreds of other ways to pay for this economic incompetence of ‘welfare reform.’

And because Joe Public doesn’t have or won’t take the time to look at what the figures and FACT actually prove the politicians get away with destructive and ill-considered policies that are back of a fag packet and cost the individual voter, individual taxpayer and the country at large more.

Yet because of that apathy and ignorance and political game playing, the pensioner IS going to get hit with cut upon cut in benefits and no party can deny that, least of all the truly incompetent Tories who developed these policies in the first place.

The ONLY way to ensure the pensioner does not get clobbered with benefit cuts is to abolish Universal Credit and abolish the other welfare reform (sic) policies of bedroom tax, benefit cap and LHA and SAR cap.  The welfare reform experiment has failed and will fail spectacularly if the policies continue.  They are ill-considered and conceived out of political spin and rhetoric and the purported impact assessments undertaken by DWP ahead of the implementation all state that the government do NOT know what impact they will have and will be monitored on an ongoing basis.

This comprised in the bedroom tax a report 18 months in which covered the first 6 months of the policy and that is not acceptable in any shape or form whatsoever.  There is plenty of factual data available to this mere amateur blogger to demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that these policies cost and cost and cost and simply do not work.  The government has far more data obviously yet that cannot overturn the headline data which shows the bedroom tax, benefit cap, LHA and SAR cap have all failed to reduce the welfare benefit bill and that Universal Credit will fail and fails even in theory given the 100% take-up of benefits and tax credits it holds.

No political party is brave enough to run these arguments as they will be labelled the party OF welfare and that is politically unacceptable to run such arguments.  The consequence of that is the pensioner facing stringent cuts to their benefit and standard of living.

The Tory plan to hit 515,000 social housing pensioners with the bedroom tax

Today the Daily Telegraph ran an article about the bedroom tax.  The link is here and is a must read. They even called it the ‘bedroom tax’ and this is as serious as it gets for ALL pensioners and for all social landlords.

DO NOT think this is just the mixed-age pensioner couples being hit by the bedroom tax as is well known to be the policy under Universal Credit, this Tory plan in the Daily Torygraph is not about the 70 – 90,000 estimated to be mixed-age pensioner couples, this is about the bedroom tax being applied to 515,000 pensioners who under occupy in social housing.

Let me say that again this plan, the Tory plan is to hit 514,800 pensioners with the bedroom tax.

To explain and to prove that huge figure is simple and is not hyperbole or scaremongering or anything else from me at all.  It is a correct extrapolation of what this Telegraph article says.

“Local authorities could save £400 million a year if pensioners’ housing benefits were cut to reflect they have spare bedrooms, under a controversial reform applied to working-age families.”

I have emphasised the £400 million per year for good reason as it explains everything.

The average national bedroom tax deducted per year is £777 and so you divide the £400 million claimed saving by this average figure and you get 514,800 cases, or pensioner households.  That is why this is not just the maximum 90,000 estimate that is given for the mixed-age pensioner couple (one partner reaching state pension age and the other not – or cougar and sugar daddy if you will!)

Dividing the claimed £400,000,000 saving by this 90,000 mixed-age pensioner figure would mean a bedroom tax cut of £4,444.44 per year from each pensioner housing benefit claim and the maximum HB deducted being 25% of eligible HB would mean the social housing pensioner paying 4 times this figure (£17,777.77) per year in social rent or the average pensioner paying a weekly social housing rent of £341.88!!

Make no mistake whatsoever this £400 million per year figure the article says it derives from FOI requests can ONLY mean ALL social housing pensioners get hit by the bedroom tax.  This is not just the mixed-age couple being hit with the bedroom tax at all.

I have written recently that it is inevitable that the Tories if re-elected would have to go after the pensioner for welfare cuts and that this is not just the mixed-age pensioner couple that I first reported back in November 2011.  I was alerted to this article today by the ever reliable Jules Birch who asked if my view was just the mixed age UC pensioner couple.  It isn’t as I explain above and why I deliberately started with the £400 million claimed saving which proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Jules Birch also stated that the Tories do like to release welfare policy in the Telegraph and that is undoubtedly true and they tend to use the Mail or Express for kite-flying policy proposals and the Telegraph for far more serious official ‘leaks’ for want of a better term.

The fact the £400 million figure is used and its derivation from FOIs shows this is no simple kite-flying proposal as is the opening of the article – opening as in catch the eye of the reader at the beginning else they don’t read further strategy.

telegraph bedroom tax pensioner

Note the sub copy and dear reader welcome to a term you will now hear from the Tories almost as often as long-term economic plan and that term is INTERGENERATIONAL FAIRNESS.

“Amid growing debate about intergenerational fairness, research shows some pensioners receive housing benefit for six empty bedrooms.”

Dear reader, dear experienced welfare / social policy reader, please advise where you have heard or read a debate about the term ‘intergenerational fairness’ and in relation to welfare benefits?  No me neither!  This is no kite flying exercise at all, this is serious policy intent to cut pensioner benefits and to discredit the pensioner as well, though in very tame terms compared to the working-age scrounging feckless ne’er do well.

A huge but extremely subtle point and one that bears all the hallmarks of this being drafted by the DWP and not the journalist himself is why I have emphasised the word housing benefit in the above.  Housing Benefit is a specific term and included in the headline yet in the article the journalists words of choice is housing benefits (ie plural not singular) and the article is without a doubt penned by more than one author given the way it switches from knowledgable HB speak to generic journospeak.

The £400 million claimed saving is another barb at the pensioner and, more importantly, this article reflects the significant points I made here just a week or so ago that the welfare savings stated and wanted by a future Tory government cannot possibly come from working-age people alone as they do now and because the pensioner receives 68% of the total welfare benefit spend – more than £2 in every £3 in welfare benefits goes to the pensioner.

That same blog of mine included some startling impacts of this for social housing, the social housing model per se and for all social landlords.  Social housing has a huge proportion of pensioners as the age chart I used in that piece shows as I reproduce below.

agetenants

As you can see readily social housing is very ‘top-heavy’ with pensioners compared to the private rented sector (and to which bedroom tax does not apply too) and the 2014 EHS reports that 31% of all social housing tenants are pensioners and the most recent official Housing Benefit figures reveal that of the 4.8 million HB claimants 1.6 million are over 60 or a third of all HB claimants are over 60.

Note too the same latest and final HB statistics before the general election revealed 464,511 households affected by the bedroom tax yet the above Tory plan would add a further 514,800 pensioners to that figure.

Yes that does mean that pensioners are the ones who under occupy most in social housing.  The biggest scroungers of this scarce national resource is the pensioner

I strongly suspect it doesn’t mean that social landlords will bombard the pensioner with red-inked letters and doorstep them with demands for them to pay the bedroom tax as they did with working-age social tenants, at least in the beginning, it means that social landlords are in the brownest smelliest stuff possible with this plan.  It means the social housing model, that cornerstone of the welfare state, is being removed by the Tories.

HOWEVER

Why would any sane politician of any political party want to attack the benefits of the grey vote?  And yes it is too simple to say this policy has all the hallmarks of IDS ergo its the policy of the not so sane.  That is despite well founded comments that the journalist in question is supposedly IDS’s favourite journalist too.

It did occur to me that this could be that version of a kite flyer which is aired then abandoned if only to soften the blow of the mixed-age pensioner couple.  The old Thatcherite black arts trick of leaking a 30% cut to something then the Iron Lady appearing heroic by saying no its only 10%, which of course is still a 10% cut!

But the £400 million figure suggests to me this is much more than that and the fact this £400 million per year figure being explained (albeit with a few problems) and the use of ‘intergenerational fairness’ (and do keep your eye on this term!) all suggest this is 80%+ serious and not the 20% seriousness of a flying kite.  For example Cameron has three times raised the we will not pay a penny in HB to under 25s and without success and now appears to be settling for the under 21s despite the fact such a policy only incentivises getting pregnant – but that’s another story.

I keep returning to my post last week about the Osborne bung for pensioners.  We will give you £20,000 in the proverbial brown paper bag dear pensioner (and £30k if in London) as a carrot for giving up your underoccupied social housing property ELSE we will hit you with the bedroom tax.  That was the gist of the piece I wrote and now my interpretation of this Osborne bung makes absolutely perfect sense.

Dear Old Mrs Jones will now go for this no brainer of a bung to leave her council house.  £20,000 is the equivalent of 25 years of bedroom tax at £777 per year, the now national average. How long before IDS trots out we have to be firm as well as fair and we did offer you a nice brown paper bag bung to give up your costly to heat far too large property for you Mrs Jones lines come out of Tory HQ.  Remember Mrs Jones we have committed to the triple lock but we are all in this together after all so lets use that Dunkirk spirit.

Oh and by the way Mrs Jones you no longer need that annuity you can take it all in a lump sum as after all it is your money youve been thrifty in saving and the nice little £20k we are giving you will mean you can buy that little cottage with the roses around the door and not have to worry about all those young hoodies on that council estate you’ve suffered for all these years.  We Tories are giving you choice and opportunity, blah, blah, bullshit, blah!!!

In summary, this is a serious policy proposal not a flying kite and ALL pensioners have a choice if the Tories remain in power – move to your dream retirement home and take our bung or we will hammer you, ALL of you not just the cougars and sugar daddys, with the bedroom tax….then the benefit cap, then …..whatever the hell we like the precedent is set.

PS – Social landlords – Most of you chose to label my rants against your indifference and apathy in challenging the welfare reforms and my comments that they are individually and collectively a massive predetermined attack on social housing as ME being political!!

Wake the f*ck up! Who is being political and who is systematically and increasingly attacking social housing ain’t me !!

UPDATE

Just as a footnote the DWP official figures for 2013/14 total the welfare spend at £163 billion of which 32% only goes to those of working age – or £52 billion.

The Tories have said they want £25 billion of further welfare benefit cuts.  Anyone who thinks Tories can take £25 billion just off the £52 billion paid to working-age is living in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

The Tories HAVE TO reduce pensioner benefits to achieve this £25 billion of cuts – and this is only £0.4 billion- or just 1.6% of the overall welfare benefit cuts they need to meet that commitment (Less the £184 million bung of course)

Heres the DWP £163 billion figure

201314welfarespend

As you can see these are official DWP figures – and as for the 68% going to pensioners and 32% only going to working-age here is what our old friend IDS says:

benefitspend

Note thats an official answer to a written question £54 billion on working-age (31.76%) and £116 billion on pensioners (68.24%) of the £170 billion cost for £2015 which is a 4.3% overall increase too on the £163 billion figure from the year before – And there was you and I thinking IDS has cut the welfare bill….well he does tell us all the time he has….and yes this is an increase way above inflation!

Have a nice simple graph to stop boring yourselves having to read figures dear reader!  This is a picture so that even Osborne can understand exactly what IDS said above in his parliamentary written answer!

wb£

UPDATE 2

A tiny percentage or in fact 3 out of 15000 who have seen this query my figures re the £400 million which when divided by £777 gives the half a million plus households affected.

What does the Telegraph say in the article?  Yes it confirms my method and veracity of my figures:

telegraph3

Glasgow said £8.700,000 saving from 14,500 cases = £600 per case on average (Glasgow avg. DWP data = £618 per case)

Manchester said £6,900,000 from 8,911 cases = £774 per case (Manchester avg DWP data = £710 per case)

Wandsworth said £168,000 from 140 cases = £1200 per case (Wandsworth avg DWP data = £1252 per case)

All broadly similar and nowhere near the £4,444.44 per case this £400 million would mean for just the circa 90,000 estimated mixed-age pensioner couple – QED – (And each LA area has a different 14% and 25% bedroom tax split which easily explains the 9% variance in the Manchester figure above)

One of these days I will be able to write a blog so that even the most innumerate can pick up a Poundland calculator and do a 20 second calculation.  Perhaps I shall call it the IDS-Osborne Method!

FINAL (?) UPDATE – Late Thursday evening 26 February

The Telegraph journalist sends me a message on Twitter and to others who retweeted this post (and good luck with that as there are thousands!) claiming that my ‘misrepresentation’ of his purely ‘intellectual’ article was deliberately worrying frightened people!

Yes that was me that drafted the Telegraph article which raised this issue and frightened pensioners in the first place and I who stated they swim around in £4m London properties with 5 or 6 spare bedrooms that the state is paying for wasn’t it?

I have clearly hit some very raw nerves and the journalist not only blames me he also has the gall to say he is certain there is no such Tory policy to impose the bedroom tax on pensioners.  How reassuring we must all feel thanks to Mr ****house!

telegraphapologia

It is apparently ok for a professional journalist to cause alarm in a national newspaper which frightens pensioners but woe betide a mere ‘amateur’ blogger for interpreting his data, however correctly, as I do above.  To them blame me for frightening pensioners (and probably the entire social housing sector) and then to say I and all the 50,000 or so that have read this post should be reassured by him as he has the inside track on Conservative policy reveals more about this journalists ethics and conceit.

What a pompous twat!

The one thing any reader should take from this is the figures above of £170 billion total welfare bill of which £116 billion goes to the (protected) pensioner and £54 billion to the (unprotected) working-age claimant.  The Tories have said they require £25 billion of welfare savings.

Anyone think the Tories can find £25 billion in savings purely from the £54 billion working-age welfare spend?

Of course not and the Tories will have to reduce and cut pensioner benefits to achieve that stated target for cuts.

Oh dear the pompous, intellectual Mr Holehouse has through HIS efforts at least assured everyone that the Tories WILL be cutting the pensioner welfare spend!

A linked post to this that explains why it is inevitable that the pensioner will face welfare benefit cuts after the election is here

8 new social homes built for every 100 sold under Coalitions 1:1 Right to Buy

This coalition relaunched the Right to Buy programme (RTB2) a few years back with assurances and pledges that one new social housing property would be built to replace each one sold with the massively increased discounts that RTB2 brought.

Today Inside Housing run an article on how the coalition very, very conveniently made a mistake in stating how many new units had been built!!  The CLG at first saying it was 4,795 homes and today they ‘embarrassingly’ admit this to be just 2,298.  Inside Housing even put it a nonsensical line graph of the 4,795 and 2,298 and YET AGAIN Inside Housing miss the real issue.

The same article says 29,000 social homes have been sold under RTB2 yet fail to comment on that figure in comparison to the 2,298 figure.

The coalition assurances and pledges of a 1 for 1 replacement has become just 8 properties replaced out of every 100 sold as that is what 2,298 replaced for 29,000 sold off on the cheap means.

rtb2

The Inside Housing article apart from NOT commenting that only 8 social housing properties have been replaced for every 100 sold under RTB2 also mention that the ‘brilliant’ CIH found this out and IH praise the CIH for finding this out and the CIH and quote Gavin Smart of the CIH saying:

This surprising revision makes it clear that the number of replacement homes being built is nowhere near the number being sold

Nowhere near is about as much as a reprimand as the ultra conservative CIH will ever get.  Such a vague and woolly comment from CIH is, regrettably, to be expected. Where is the massive condemnation for this reckless policy that is making the chronic national shortage of social housing much worse.

I would have settled for a simple only 1 in every 12.6 properties sold off are being replaced.

Or even 92% of RTB properties are not being replaced

Factual, correct and damning.  Yet even IH and CIH could not even be bothered to report that fact!

 

UPDATE 2.30PM

Oh dear this ‘online blogger’ has upset Inside Housing yet again who, once again, spit out their proverbial dummy on Twitter over any criticism of them however deserved. They also get into some remarkable claims to defend themselves against the temerity of this mere ‘online blogger’ as they refer to me…

ihrtb1

Different graphs show SAME?

The IH graph compares the 4,799 and 2,298 figures. Mine shows the 29,000 sold versus 2,998 replaced and are entirely different things.

Then IH claim I am misrepresenting the governments 1:1 commitment by saying:

ihrtb22

How I am supposed to have misrepresented IH do not say they just make the claim that I have misrepresented the 1:1 replacement promise.  Oh but hang on (a) what was this promise and was it more than a promise, and (b) what did IH say about this when it first came to light?

Oh dear….

rtb2ih

Yes above is IH quoting the then Housing Minister Grant Shapps saying it is a COMMITMENT (not a mere promise) and that “…every additional home that is sold WILL be replaced by a new affordable home on a one-for one basis”

That is pretty definitive language that I have allegedly misrepresented IH – The exact same thing YOU published too.

Let’s really be absolutely pedantic about this.  A replacement for every ADDITIONAL home sold through RTB2. Is IH saying that the 1 for 8 actually replacement means 7 out of each RTB sold would have happened anyway under RTB1 and that RTB2 (ie trebling of discounts) only led to a one-seventh or circa 14% increase in overall RTB sales!!

Affordable?  Let’s assume pedantically that this means AR [Affordable (sic) Rent] units.  Then we can say that IH failed to even report on the 102% increase in AR units last year as recorded by the official housing regulator the HCA and especially not on the fact that 2 in every 3 AR units were NOT new build – ie built in response.  These 2 in every 3 AR units were existing properties that social landlords ‘converted’ from social rent into AR properties and increased and received circa £130 million more in rent for doing so as I reported (but IH did not!) here

Yes that means a social tenant paying a social rent left or was evicted and then replaced in 67% of cases with a new tenant suddenly paying the so-called much higher ‘affordable’ (sic) rent.  You can see how the coaltion’s AR scheme incentivised social landlords to evict the bedroom tax or other arrears tenant to take advantage of a much higher AR rent.

How dare I say that chirped the well-known far right Tory councillor John Moss.  Social landlords can’t evict the social tenant to install the AR tenant.  Yet the figures, sorry let me be precise, the OFFICIAL figures of the OFFICIAL social housing regulator prove that is what has happened.

ihrtb3johnmoss

To save you looking and to keep the argument all in one place here is an extract of my blog over AR and how two-thirds were not new build at all but simply the social tenant leaves (which can be evicted) and that social rent property is replaced with an affordable (sic) rent property at much higher rents.  It also includes a very revealing graph from Shelter that supports this argument fully.

rtb4shelterar

Note how just the simple recognition of the colours red and blue in 2013/14 reveals all the above to be true and valid and constructive criticism of the coalition policy with fact (which of course explains why it wasn’t reported in Inside Housing!)

In summary, Inside Housing journalists have regularly complained over this ‘online blogger’ attacking them and used the constant line that they are just reporting news, or new news, as they did again today.  The reality is Inside Housing choose to print whatever ‘news’ suits their pro-coalition (we wouldn’t dare criticise any government position?) agenda.

Ask, in this case, what is the housing story here.  Is it that the coalition government however ‘conveniently’ understated the number of RTB replacements as IH maintain

Or…

  • the horrendous impact upon social housing of just 1 in 8 council homes sold off at a hugely inflated discount that does not allow councils to replenish due to lack of money and,
  • makes the universally admitted shortage of social housing stock much worse and,
  • reveals this coalition government has failed to keep commitments (not promises) and,
  • frankly do not know what the hell they are doing other than buying votes and transferring more stock to the great property owning democracy for political purposes, and,
  • is once more attacking the social housing model and cornerstone of the welfare state?

What was that you said IH we are talking about the same thing?  Really?

ihrtb5

Just a different emphasis? Really?

Dear reader, almost two years ago Inside Housing published, with glee, a professional character assassination attempt on my advocating that every bedroom tax household should appeal it and has a legitimate right to appeal the bedroom tax.  This was an article written by the former owners of Inside Housing, the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and was simply scurrilous.  You can glean from that my comments above are aimed at Inside Housing generally and collectively and not at Pete Apps (who from memory joined after this disgraceful article?)

I proved both IH and CIH wrong and so much so that in January this year the CIH went full circle and advocated as I have always done that social landlords should support their tenants to appeal the bedroom tax.

I have no personal axe to grind with Inside Housing per se, except generally if you give it out then you are going to get it back and at least have the balls to recognise that.

What issue I do have is entirely professional and in a social housing context.  Inside Housing will not challenge this coalition governments housing policy as they are scared to do so.  They highly selectively cover housing issues and just like the convenience of CLG in understating the figures above, IH ‘conveniently’ fails to report on very significant housing issues and news – as above and in the 2 in every 3 AR units which are NOT new build as but one example stated here.

Regardless of whether that explanation of ‘issues’ I have with this monopolistic housing news outlet you agree with or not, read the very constructive criticism of the subjective selectivity of what IH choose to believe is ‘news’ and take account of what they try to do to anyone who has the temerity to disagree with them as well.

Inside Housing, in the main, dwells in a windowless Ivory Tower.  It is time the ‘sector’ recognised this bias and selective and politically motivated allegedly impartial ‘news’ reporting it has increasingly offered up over the last two years particularly.  Think Telegraph and HSBC when it comes to CIH and IH.  Think ‘advertising revenue’ when IH abjectly fails to comment on AR and £130 million more pa in rent for social landlords.  Think ownership of Ocean Media Group when considering political objectivity IH claims in its ‘news’ reporting.

Nobody is objective. I choose not to hide my politically left views and I definitely do not hide my agenda of support for the social housing model that IH claims to support as that is its industry.  So when Inside Housing goes on the attack at anyone having the temerity to criticise them, however constructively, well lets just say its time IH put some glass in their Ivory Towers and stopped practising the pathetically inadequate attack the messenger strategy.

Grow up IH and grow a set!

UPDATE 25 February

Irony can be so…er…ironic cant it!  After the big headline from Inside Housing stating the government massively overestimated figures we see a correction in the IH article which says:

UPDATE: 24.02.2015 at 12.45pm

The copy was updated to correct an error in paragraph 5. According to the numbers released today, 26,185 homes have been sold since April 2012, not 29,000.

 

Oh dear it seems Inside Housing overestimated too by 2,815 RTB2 sales or by nearly 11% and then today their lead story is to name and shame those councils which did overestimate new starts too rather than focus on the now just 9% replacements or 1 in every 11 rather than the 1 for 1 replacement which is, yes you guessed it, absent from this revised and new article too.

It seems IH have grown a set and become even more pro coalition and even more biased in their, ahem, “news” reporting!

Even better in Inside Housing’s daily blog feature and without any irony whatsoever they report this

rtb6ih

 

Double checking figures!

TW4 – That Was The Welfare Threatening Week That Was!

It’s been a busy week!

Read on

1. The bedroom tax doesn’t save a penny and INCREASES the taxpayer and public purse cost of housing benefit.

  • Cut through the bull and bluster from IDS as the DWP’s own official figures reveal it costs more than it saves
  • Can the voter understand that cuts and caps mean an INCREASE in cost?
  • The welfare reform policies simply do not work as the official figures prove!
  • UK taxpayer subsidises employers by £5.3 billion per year – more than the £4.3 billion it pays out in dole

ukemployershb

Click here for the detailed explanation and the figures of FACT

2. The pensioner will no longer be exempt from the welfare reform cuts after the election

  • What Chancellor George Osborne said and what it means
  • Why it is inevitable that pensioners will have benefits cut after the election
  • Will it mean the end of sheltered housing?

agetenants

Click here for the detail

3. Universal Credit will cost the taxpayer at least £20 billion more per year

  • Why UC with its not a penny more, not a penny LESS theme will cost average taxpayer £800 more pa
  • Everyone to receive every benefit and tax credit to which they are entitled
  • Beware any claims to pay for any policy out of non-existent UC ‘savings!’

wb£

Click here for detail and fact

4. London exports its perversely high rent inflation to the rest of the UK

  • How Inner London boroughs export the benefit claimant to Outer London and beyond
  • The factual detail of this Housing Benefit diaspora is benefit cleansing the capital
  • Are we sanctioning Russia or is Putin sanctioning UK housing?

london hb claimant count

Click here for the detail

5. The vanity of lawyers and incompetent local councils shafts domestic violence victims

  • High Court ruling that the bedroom tax does not discriminate is correct!
  • High Court ruling does NOT state a panic room is a bedroom
  • Further sham decision making by local councils in the bedroom tax

Click here for the detail

6.  Why ‘affordable rent’ is the death of social housing and deceit of Liverpool’s Labour Mayor explains

  • You thought the benefit cap was a London high rent area only problem? You’re wrong!
  • Why social landlords cannot afford to house the benefit tenant
  • Why the benefit cap prevents the rationale for the bedroom tax and shows just how incompetent IDS welfare reform policies are

Click here  and here for the detail

7.  How the welfare reform policy of direct payment of HB to the tenant will see social landlords become asocial and refuse to accommodate the problematic benefit tenant out of financial necessity

  • Why social landlords are being forced to become risk averse to whom they rent by policy
  • Why the coalition simply do not understand the economic good and taxpayer saving that the social housing model is
  • Just where the hell are the sick, disabled and unemployed going to live?
  • Why social housing evictions will rise dramatically and cost the taxpayer even more!

allocation direct payment

Click here for details

8.  IDS sneakily changes law so he can sanction the hardworking family.

(Strictly the week before but this post has had 20 times the views of all posts this year!)
  • IDS inherently admits his UC policy is ill conceived
  • How IDS wants an 18% increase in the national minimum wage?
  • IDS goes after the working family for accepting low paying jobs and will sanction the WORKING family

Click here for detail

Social housing – Dear Oldie, here’s a bung, buy a house or we hit you with the bedroom tax says Osborne!!

George Osborne, Chancellor has announced a £20k to £30k bung aimed at older social tenants to give up their social tenancy and go buy.  If they can’t afford to buy then under UC first the mixed-age pensioner couple in social housing will get hit with the bedroom tax and then its inevitable that it will applied to all social housing pensioners.

Let’s paraphrase what Osborne says shall we?

Dear Oldie,

You are the subject of huge positive discrimination as a social tenant now, and in the future, as the welfare reforms including the bedroom tax only apply to those of working age.  Yet you are a problem as it is your age group that are the real scroungers who wollow around in scarce social housing properties thus denying them to those that really need such properties.

However, as you know, you account for more than 40% of the voting public – we call you the grey vote and we need you as all parties do.  That is why you have hitherto received this favourable treatment of not being victimised by the bedroom tax and other cuts, sorry, necessary austerity programmes.

We have delayed the Universal Credit roll out as we hope you do not notice that under UC both you and your wife or husband needs to be of pensionable age to be exempt from it whereas now only one of you has to be.  Naturally this will not come in before 7th May as we need your vote.

Yet, you are a problem.  Despite having to raise the pensionable age many times which of course means more of you will be caught by the bedroom tax, we are privatising the NHS as fast as we can so that many of you die sooner and help alleviate this problem of us Conservatives hitting you with punitive cuts such as the bedroom tax.  You may be aware of the oft-reported battles I have had with IDS to stop his UC programme which will shaft you in the same way as we now shaft the working age population.

As IDS has informed Parliament, though we did try to keep this quiet, you the pensioner take 68% of all welfare benefit spend or simply more than £2 in every £3 of the welfare budget.  Of course when we attack the benefit scroungers who are bankrupting the country we don’t dare say this is you, hence raising the pension age and privatising the NHS makes sense for the country.

benefitspend

 

 

To make that easier for you to understand I made a picture for you with my crayons and don’t worry Nursey made sure they were not too sharp.

wb£

Yet we can’t say this publicly of course and that is why I have dreamt up this brown paper bag bung for you so you can be part of the great property owning democracy, that Thatcherite notion which bought her 3 elections successes while we registered her domicile in Caribbean tax havens to avoid paying taxes that would have meant the country could afford all you old farts …sorry older citizens.

My speech today has been reported in Inside Housing as that is a very Conservative friendly magazine with respect to our genocide, sorry housing policy. That story (co-written by Hans Christian Anderson) is below.

Osborne offers tenants cash as right to buy alternative

George Osborne has announced an £84m pot to offer social tenants up to £30,000 to buy a new home on the open market. The policy, announced in a major speech on housing this morning, will allow tenants who would have qualified for the Right to Buy to leave their social home and buy a new property.

Dubbed the Social Mobility Fund, it will be offered to tenants across England from April.

Local authorities will bid for a share of the cash, which they can then offer to tenants. The deadline for bids is 18 March. The maximum discount available will be £20,000 across England and £30,000 in London, which is substantially lower than the £70,000 and £100,000 respectively offered under the Right to Buy.

A Treasury spokesperson said this was because the tenant gets a ‘substantial additional benefit’ of being able to select their home. he funding will be offered to help the tenant buy any available property of their choice.

The government said it would welcome bids from local authorities that offer the product to housing association tenants who would have qualified under the preserved right to buy. It is not open to housing association tenants who would have qualified for the right to acquire.

Similar schemes have already been offered in several local authority areas nationwide, including Wandsworth in south London, the spokesperson added. The announcement came as George Osborne presented a slew of measures to help build 400,000 homes in London by 2025.

The coalition government has hugely increased the available discounts available under Right to Buy, but has been criticised for failing to do enough to ensure these properties are replaced.

A prospectus on the proposal says: ‘Some social tenants who are able to afford to exercise their Right to Buy are prevented from doing so because the social property in which they live is not suitable for their needs, or is difficult to mortgage.

‘The Government wants to help tenants trapped in social housing as a result of these barriers to access home ownership.’

The prospectus says the government is keen to prioritise older tenants seeking to move into appropriate accommodation or closer to family, working tenants who wish to move for employment and tenants that struggle to get a mortgage because of the nature of their property.

…so come join the great property owning democracy with this cut price bung else we will have to hit you with the bedroom tax.  You know it makes sense

Yours in anticipation of your vote

Georgie Boy

*******************************

UPDATE

The above has caused a bit of a stir.

Firstly, many appear NOT to have realised that under UC the mixed-aged pensioner couple (that is one above one below state pension age) is liable for the bedroom tax.  See here (pdf) for full details and why the housing umbrella bodies in CIH, NHF and NHC have known about this since 2012.

Secondly, given that UC will cost at least £20 billion per year more as its principle is everyone gets what they are entitled to, a 100% take up of benefit and tax credits, this not a penny more not a penny LESS principle of UC means benefits and credits not now claimed will be paid and hat is easily in excess of £20 billion per year.

Thirdly and linked to the above is that IDS says the current 2015 welfare spend is £170 billion and (a) only 32% of that goes to working age claimants or £54.4 billion and (b) the coalition say they want to cut a further £25 billion from the welfare spend, then that cannot be achievable from the £54.4 billion paid to working-age claimants in any case so the non-working age (60+) will be getting targeted and have to be.   So then this added £20 billion of UC cost will mean they will be targeted even more.

Fourthly, in terms of older persons look at this breakdown from the English Housing Survey by age and how hugely disproportionately older persons reside in social housing.

agetenants

As I stated here if you are old (or  sick or disabled) then social housing is the ONLY place you can live as the private rented sector model does not accommodate the older person. 44% of the entire social housing tenant profile are over 55 compared with just 15% in the private rented sector.

So the proportion of older persons in social housing – the ones Osborne is targeting – is a huge percentage of the social tenant profile and the social housing model.

The above are just some of the reasons why older social tenants are being targeted and gives some idea of how significant this will be for social housing

UPDATE 24th February 18.45pm

Some discussion below re the importance of the pensioner vote and to add to that and confirm my point here is a graphic for the ‘grey vote’ and note by comparison just 44% of under 25s vote

greyvote

A stark comparison and a telling one!

HB diaspora as official figures reveal – Putin’s cleansing of Inner London

If you cant get out of London your benefit shyster then at least go to Outer London from Inner London

Or

The coalition plan to move the housing benefit family

Background

Since the May 2010 election to the latest HB figures released this week – the last before the General Election – the overall HB claimant count is up 2.78% nationally.  In London (all) the increase is 3.51% that is more than the nationally average.

Yet scratch the surface and see the difference between Inner London boroughs and Outer London boroughs.

 

ilhbnov14

 

You will see readily that half of Inner London Boroughs have reduced the numbers of HB claimants since the last election and by almost 10% in LB Westminster. Also that the 50% which have increased HB claimants none have done so to the overall London average of 3.51%

Now look at Outer London boroughs!

 

olhbnov14

Notice any difference?

Yes just one Outer London borough has had a fall in HB claimants, Waltham forest and even then just 0.65%

The HB diaspora?  Conclusive evidence that Inner London boroughs are dumping their HB claimants in Outer London boroughs and that particularly LHA reform and benefit cap reform is seeing huge financial pressures being put on Outer London boroughs (health, education, etc) from Inner London boroughs.

A very Parisian model aimed at cleansing Inner London of the peasants so that Russian oligarchs can feel happier in Inner London!  And there was me thinking we imposed sanctions against Putin when the reality is Tory policy is akin to Putin sanctioning peasant cleansing in Inner London!

 

Councils and lawyers endanger the bedroom tax domestic abuse victim

A judicial review went to the High Court over a sanctuary room and the bedroom tax.  The DWP won.

Cue: anger and IDS is a bastard being the proverbial and typical comments and headlines.

In this case no.  It is the lawyers and especially the councils that deserve anger and scorn and huge amounts of anger and scorn.

Like all judicial reviews in the bedroom tax the legal question was Is the bedroom tax discriminatory and all that becomes is a vanity project for the lawyers.  Yet if this case and all 288 similar cases went to 288 First-tier Tribunals the legal question rightly becomes Is a sanctuary room a bedroom and I would strongly argue they would win and far more importantly the victim, the tenant would be placed first and not as in a JR secondary to the kudos chasing vanity exercise lawyers have.

Lawyers have put a cause first and not the client by going to a judicial review and that stinks and as explained above the wrong legal question and the most important legal question is not asked as JR – the question of Is a sanctuary room a bedroom?

No, no and no again a sanctuary room is a sanctuary room not a bedroom.

Yet the real scorn must also go to the local council housing benefit departments who have made the outrageous decisions to call a sanctuary room a bedroom for bedroom tax purposes and there are 288 cases of this according to a Freedom of Information response to the Guardian in March 2014

That FOI response formed an article with the data in which these councils shamefully, outrageous and in clear error of law deemed these rooms to be bedrooms.

The biggest culprit was Middlesbrough with 69 cases of sanctuary rooms being deemed bedrooms. Then Stockton-on-Tees with 40 such cases and then North Tyneside with 28.  137 cases in just 3 North East councils and 137 wrong decisions in law for me that I would strongly suggest would be overturned at a bedroom tax tribunal.

The only other councils with double figure sanctuary rooms wrongly deemed to be bedrooms are Doncaster with 24, South Derbyshire with 12 and  West Lancashire in the North West with 11. The rest all in single figures include Southend-on-Sea (8); Halton (5); Hillingdon (6); Stoke-on-Trent (5); Telford and Wrekin (7); Redditch (9); Guildford (2)

All of these councils are wrong in law and in HB regulations for deeming a sanctuary room to be a bedroom.

I would also go as far as to say that even IDS would not seek to appeal against such a decision at First-tier Tribunals because of the politically sensitivity and more importantly about what a bedroom is – as has been defined in large part by the Upper Tribunal in the Fife cases. Read that judgment carefully as any FtT judge would have to do and a sanctuary room is not a bedroom it is a sanctuary room and I would feel very confident of winning any such cases.

The councils have all made errors and the UT Fife case backs this up fully with its seminal paragraph [54] which says:

Parliament intended decision makers to consider all relevant circumstances on a case by case basis.

No council could find when considering properly that a sanctuary room was indeed correctly described as a bedroom given the circumstances yet as we know all councils conducted a sham decision making exercise in the bedroom tax and merely believed the word of the landlord.  They did not consider any circumstances let alone any relevant ones and a sanctuary room has a bagful of very relevant circumstances that all point to it NOT being a bedroom.

Local councils, instead of making enquiries, that of course would cost them money, simply CHOSE to deliberately make life worse for survivors of domestic abuse.  Councils actions themselves are abuse not just abusive here and they need to be harangued and need to be told to change those decisions – all 288 of them – and to do so with immediate effect.

HB regulations state that when a decision is made with an error of law there is NO TIME LIMIT for that case to be appealed or reviewed.  This is a classic example of 288 cases all being made in error of law as every council has failed to take into consideration relevant circumstances – as the Upper Tribunal state clearly was the express intention of Parliament when they drafted the bedroom tax legislation.

IF local councils want to wait for me to take such a case against them then take that chance.  I have worked with 17 refuges across the country for many years and I am sure that details of such cases will find their way to me by womens services or indeed by the landlords who have converted properties by making sanctuary rooms.

Yet for once it would be good if local councils realised not only the bad publicity this will cause but it will also cost them dearly in time and expense to defend.

If for example any of the North East councils mentioned above which account for almost 50% of all such cases in just 3 councils alone wish to discuss this in complete confidence with me then please do so.  If any of the North East social landlords wish to contact me to then fine and I am regularly in the North East advising people there of how to appeal the bedroom tax.