Feb 142013
 

BEDROOM TAX. A summary by Frank

None of what follows is scaremongering.  

Nearly one in three tenants on benefit to lose at least £14 per week

The Draconian measures will affect an estimated 660,000 working-age social tenants – 31% of existing working-age housing benefit claimants in the social sector. The majority of these people have only one extra bedroom.

The legislation is deliberately complicated and comrades need to gen up or refer to other agencies. The legislation also worsens  between Housing Benefit and Universal Credit which will replace HB from October 2013

80% of those affected are expected to be unable or unwilling to move home, so the governments claim that it will free up homes for ‘overcrowded families’ is limited. The government is not interested in providing homes, it is interested in penalising the poorest.

Many tenants have invested a lot of money in their homes over the years – garden sheds, children’s play items, carpets, decorating etc., and the prospect of abandoning this will be hard to take.

Sources:

http://www.housing.org.uk/policy/welfare_reform/‘under-occupation’_penalty.aspx

(Based on England/Wales)

http://www.cih.org/resources/PDF/Scotland%20Policy%20Pdfs/Bedroom%20Tax/Bedroom%20Tax%20Final.pdf

(32pages, Chartered Institute of Housing, aimed at Scotland’s social landlords)

FACEBOOK: 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/antibedroomtax/

The “bedroom tax” is a change to Housing Benefit introduced by the Con-dem Government to take effect from April 2013.

The power to do this is contained in the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and is commonly referred to as the bedroom tax, size criteria or under-occupation penalty.

 

Children under 16 of same gender expected to share one room.

Children under 10 expected to share regardless of gender

Disabled tenant or partner who needs non resident overnight carer will be allowed an extra bedroom. However proving this will be very difficult, although it has been allowed in the private rented sector since 2010.

 

Who will be affected?

All claimants who are deemed to have at least one spare bedroom will be affected. This includes:

 

Separated parents who share the care of their children and who may have been allocated an extra bedroom to reflect this. Benefit rules mean that there must be a designated ‘main carer’ for children (who receives the extra benefit)

Couples who use their ‘spare’ bedroom when recovering from an illness or operation

Foster carers because foster children are not counted as part of the household for benefit purposes

Parents whose children visit but are not part of the household including those at university.

Families with disabled children who need an extra bedroom due to their disability. (a case about this in Private Rented sector is now going to Supreme Court)

Disabled people including people living in adapted or specially designed properties. (One person has been told that her adapted shower room which was a bedroom will count as an extra bedroom and she’ll have to pay for it.)

Pensioners when in mixed age couple

 

How much will people lose?

 

The cut will be a fixed percentage of the Housing Benefit eligible rent. The Government has said that this will be set at 14% for one extra bedroom and 25% for two or more extra bedrooms.

 

The Government’s impact assessment shows that those affected will lose an average of £14 a week. Housing association tenants are expected to lose £16 a week on average.

However as social housing rents in the Highlands are higher than the Scottish average, we can expect to lose marginally more.

 

A person on JSA can expect to be hit by at least £60 per month.

 

HB is different for claimants depending on whether they are with a private landlord or social landlord, ie., Council or Housing Association. Private tenants are already subject to a benefit reduction, as Their LOCAL HOUSING ALLOWANCE is set at a ” market rate” below the actual market rate, meaning large numbers of claimants get benefit at a lower rate than the actual rent, and have to make up the difference from their unemployment or other benefits, or from the meagre wages of those on pay low enough to qualify for LHA.

The new legislation is effectively a substantial cut in HB for all claimants in Social  housing who supposedly have a ‘spare’ room. 

The government do not care if a room is single or double, it is just a room, so two children will be expected to share a ‘single’ room.

A couple alone in a two-bedroom home will see their HB reduced by 14%per week, and by 25% if they have a three-bedroom house.

A couple in a three-bedroom home with two children will see their HB reduced by 14% per week – the Government says children must share a bedroom, so the other room is ‘spare’!

A couple in a three-bedroom home with one child will see a cut of 14%.

A couple in a four-bedroom house with three children will see their benefit cut by 14%, or by 25% if  two children are home.

A couple with one adult unemployed child aged 16+ and two other children in a 4-bed house will be cut, by more than 14% but subject to other terms.

(‘Couple’ also means a single parent)

All these reduction will apply even if there are no available ‘smaller’ homes to which the claimant may be moved by the landlord. As a large proportion of social (and private) housing built in the last 40 years has been of 2- and 3-bedroom size, being the most flexible, the number of 1-bed and Studio flats is very limited and will prevent any significant migration. The government know this of course, but don’t care.

Tenants in rural areas where there is no alternative accommodation, even if they wanted it, will be hit.

The cuts also apply even if you are disabled and use a spare room for keeping equipment such as a mobility scooter or for kidney dialysis. 

A couple who do not share the same bedroom will also be penalised, even if this is because of disability.

Also, separated parents who share custody and keep a spare room for their visiting children will see similar cuts.

Parents of children taken into foster care, even if temporarily.

Foster Carers will be penalised, because children in care are not counted.

If a partner/dependent dies, the surviving tenant gets one years grace before HB cuts apply. With the introduction of Universal Credit this will be reduced to 13 weeks.

Claimants will be expected to find the money from other benefits or move home at their own expense, possibly out of the area meaning a change of school and loss of friends and family support. Then when their oldest child reaches the age of 10 they may be eligible to apply to move back into a larger house again, but of course there may be none available, and certainly not their old house! Thus we see both a tragedy and a farce.

The government is also to stop direct payments to landlords, putting the responsibility on tenants,  many of whom will have to set up transactional bank accounts, perhaps for the first time, and many of whom lack the skills to budget. For example, if the landlord sets up a direct debit and there are insufficient funds in the account, even just by £1, the landlord will get NO rent and the tenant will get hit by default bank charges. (This applies to ALL tenants whether claiming HB or not). The landlord may also charge a default fee! The tenant may not even realize the situation until he examines a statement or gets a notice of arrears, and may be unable to catch up. This will inevitably lead to rent arrears, losses to landlords, evictions and increased rents for remaining tenants.

The new legislation will be accompanied by a ‘black propaganda’ campaign by the government and the usual obsequious media to demonise all HB claimants as feckless scroungers denying ‘genuine’ families the chance to move into a house, and that the ‘taxpayer’ is subsidising them. The reality is that it is a mean and hurtful policy aimed knowingly at those least able to move home and least able to pay the rent.

Under both Labour and Tories, the social rented housing stock has fallen (by 421,000 units from 1997 to 2010) as funds were cut, right-to-buy removed the best houses, and councils were denied the ability to build. This is the REAL cause of the huge waiting lists.

 

In most cases, the penalties will kick in after 13 weeks of ‘under-occupancy’ – this will affect the families of the armed forces who are on tours of duty.

STUDENTS: This will affect the families of students away for 6 months or more.

CHILDREN: under16’s of same sex must share. Over 10’s of different sex are entitled to own room. Under 10’s of either sex must share.

Social landlords are already planning to change the criteria for applicants. For example, if a WORKING couple with one child apply for a vacant local council house close to the workplace, and the only house available is a 3-bedroom (not uncommon especially in rural areas), the application may be refused because the Landlord is afraid of potential loss if the tenant/s become unemployed. This could further devastate rural communities already desperately short of social housing, although the Landlord may never admit that this kind of process is official. 

Of course what no-one is saying is that Labour introduced size criteria into the private rented sector in 2008 and had planned to extend this to the social rented sector in 2010 but Housing Associations made too much fuss about the potential rent losses they faced if that happened forcing them to drop the scheme.

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 Posted by at 21:42

  11 Responses to “Bedroom Tax update”

  1. i have a 10 year old girl and a 2 yr old boy do they have to share a bedroom , as im not sure please help

  2. Hi to every body, it’s my first visit of this webpage; this blog contains amazing and truly excellent material in support of visitors.

  3. Hi can you advice us please. We have a 2 bedroomed house and 3 children 1 girl aged 22 who is at University but still staying at home she has no income ( but does get dla).We also have 2 other children boys 1 age 7 and the other age 6. My husband was made redundant so is claiming jsa for himself and me at the moment .As we only have a 2 bedroomed house why can my daughter be asked to pay a percentage of council tax ? they have said she is a “non dependant ” she has no income and she shares with 2 brothers as we are only classed as inadaquate by council housing office and told there are no 3 bedroomed homes available . We are on the 3rd waiting list so heaven help those behind us :/ Is this correct ? Any help would be very much appreciated .

  4. i have lived with my children in a very small two bedroom flat infested with mould that is so bad we replace everything every year clothes are distroyed and the whole contence of every wardrobe needs cleaning twice a week we have no proper heating system i have 3 children i have been on the list for 6 years and now this comes in i honestely feel like crying i have had to take my daughter to the hospital with limonea and still they will not move me but now because of bedroom tax i can see us suffer for another 3 years of this till my daughter is 10 i think this is discusting

  5. Throughout all of the posts, news articles, etc, that I have seens on Twitter, FB , forums and here, very, very few make mention of refusing to pay the ‘bedroom tax’ completely. Failure to pay, the government states, will result in possible eviction. How can courts cope with 660,000 cases bought before them for non-payment of a ridiculous tax that only sees the worst off being penalised.

    I, for one, will not pay. I have a disabled wife who has her own bedroom and we have not shared the same room for over 7 years. No government, council or court is going to tell me that I now have to move back into the same bedroom with my wife or move from the home that I have invested so much time and money in.

    Why do people not realise that this is the most ridiculous tax ever and that Cameron and his cronies have got it wrong. The European Court of Human Rights will only have to see a good strong case for it to be challenged and eventually abolished.

    Cameron is by far the worst ever prime minister we have had the displeasure of being in office and all of this ‘bedroom tax’ crap only goes to show that this is his way of showing disrespect and abuse it for his people, and all for the benefit of him and his millionaire friends.

    The quicker this idiot Cameron and his con-dem-ned party is taken from office the better.

    However, the other option to avoid the ‘bedroom tax’ if you are a couple with one disabled person and have an extra bedroom is to divorce and continue as before. You are allowed a bedroom for a full time carer who stays overnight. Job done!

    Don’t pay this tax. Object on every possible ground and do unto them as they do unto us. Screw them!

    • in case you’re thinking seriously about it I have to say separating and saying one of you is a carer isn’t that simple. First it only applies to someone assessed by social services as needing 24 hour care and secondly it has to be a non-resident carer who has to have another address.

      Otherwise you’d be classed as a non-dependent and worse off because of the amount you’d have to pay then with the bedroom tax

    • Hi Chris.

      I take, and agree with, your point about not paying the ‘bedroom tax’ but, realistically, it could only be efective if everybody in the area covered by your council didn’t pay; in theory, this could be looked at via the likes of resident’s associations. Why it is very difficult to mobilise support is, that because 2/3rds of the people affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ are disabled, and disabilities are very diverse, it is very difficult to contact all of those affected in your area covered by your.council. Also, I know this may sound very negative, but if you don’t pay the amount due, the social landlord ( eg council or Housing Association) can proceed with applying to the courts usually, initially, for a SPO (Suspended Possession Order). If the Council are successful, they can ask the Courts to grant costs, which would mean you’d have an additional £2-300 to pay. It’s quite complex, but you need to be aware that it could ultimately end up with you being evicted.
      To try and give some constructive advice, it might be an idea to contact your local paper, radio station, and try to get support from your local community. Having said this, though, this has been passed into law, and polls suggest that the ‘general public’ don’t make a distinction between any of the cuts being made to the Welfare Budget (mainly because the Condem government has sold most benefit claimants as either being fraudsters or scivers and scroungers).

  6. What is the procedure for applying for exemption in Birmingham re. Bedroom Tax for Underoccupancy?

  7. as far as i am concerned this is yet another move by the government to further enhance there total dominence over the working classes old sick injured and disabled what has happened to democracy are we becoming a communist state who must obey and say nothing???

  8. This is outrageous. My wife has lived in this 2 bedroom council house for 37 years. I have lived here for 16 years with her and we are both disabled. We have had adaptations including a level access shower. We cannot afford to pay an extra £60.00 per month but if we have to move it will mean finding another adapted property and what will we do with our house contents, shed contents, carpets etc. etc. This worry is making us both physically ill. We both suffer with depression on top of our physical disabilities as it is. I really don’t know where to turn.

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