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Bedroom tax will be costly disaster, says housing chief

(1000 Posts)
vivizone Sun 31-Mar-13 06:51:02

I don't understand how they can implement it. When a council tenant signs the tenancy agreement, if bedroom tax is not mentioned, is it not illegal to implement it at a later date?

I don't see how it is enforceable. Let's say a tenant refuses to pay/can't pay. They then get evicted - wouldn't the council still be obliged to house them after eviction, especially if they have children?

The whole thing is a mess. Why so many changes all at the same time?!

www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/mar/30/bedroom-tax-disaster-housing-chief

Cost-cutting policy will push up benefit bill, cause social disruption and create widespread misery, say critics

Ministers came under new fire over benefit cuts last night as the independent body representing 1,200 English housing associations described the controversial bedroom tax as bad policy and bad economics that risks pushing up the £23bn annual housing benefit bill.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said the tax would harm the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. It comes into force this week alongside a range of other tax and benefit changes.

"The bedroom tax is one of these once-in-a-generation decisions that is wrong in every respect," he said. "It's bad policy, it's bad economics, it's bad for hundreds of thousands of ordinary people whose lives will be made difficult for no benefit – and I think it's about to become profoundly bad politics."

His intervention came as opponents launched nationwide protests against the tax, which will hit 660,000 households with each losing an estimated average of £14 a week.

Crowds gathered in London's Trafalgar Square yesterday to protest against the measure, and simultaneous protests were being held in towns and cities across the UK. One protester, Sue Carter, 58, from Waltham Forest, told the Observer: "I'm a working single parent with a tiny boxroom and now I'm faced with the choice between food, heat or paying the bedroom tax. People have looked after their homes, improved them – why should they be turfed out?"

Under the scheme, which is introduced tomorrow, people in social housing with one spare bedroom will have their housing benefit cut by 14%, while those with two or more unoccupied rooms will see it slashed by 25%.

Ministers say the tax, which David Cameron calls the "spare room subsidy", will encourage people to move to smaller properties and save around £480m a year from the spiralling housing benefit bill. But critics such as the National Housing Federation (NHF) argue that as well as causing social disruption, the move risks increasing costs to taxpayers because a shortage of smaller social housing properties may force many people to downsize into the more expensive private rented sector.

The federation's warnings came as charities said the combination of benefit cuts and tax rises coming in from this week will amount to a £2.3bn hit on family finances.

Labour said analysis of official figures showed average families would be £891 worse off in the new tax year as the changes – including those to tax credits and housing benefits – begin to bite.

Research by the NHF says that while there are currently 180,000 households that are "underoccupying two-bedroom homes", there are far fewer smaller properties in the social housing sector available to move into. Last year only 85,000 one-bedroom homes became available. The federation has calculated that if all those available places were taken up by people moving as a result of the "bedroom tax", the remaining 95,000 households would be faced with the choice of staying put and taking a cut in income, or renting a home in the private sector.

If all 95,000 moved into the private sector, it says the cost of housing benefit would increase by £143m, and by millions more if others among the remaining 480,000 affected chose to rent privately.

As well as the move on spare bedrooms, council tax benefit will be replaced from this week by a new system that will be run by English local authorities but on 10% less funding. Pensioners will be protected under the changes but, as a result, it is feared there will be a bigger burden on poor working-age adults. Restrictions on the uprating of a number of welfare payments will also hit millions of households, homelessness charity Crisis has warned.

Chief executive Leslie Morphy said: "Our poorest households face a bleak April as they struggle to budget for all these cuts coming at once. People are already cutting back on the essentials of food and heating but there is only so much they can do.

"The result will be misery – cold rooms, longer queues at food banks, broken families, missed rent payments and yet more people facing homelessness – devastating for those directly affected, but bad for us all."

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "Our welfare reforms will improve the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities, with universal credit simplifying the complex myriad of benefits and making three million people better off. And by next year, we will have taken two million of the lowest earners out of paying tax altogether."

Crisis argues that homelessness is set to rise dramatically. This winter has already seen a rise of 31% in the numbers of rough sleepers across the country and a 20% rise in people seeking help with homelessness from their local authority in the past two years, according to Crisis.

ChartiesCharities are also concerned that the government-funded network of homelessness advisers in England is to be scrapped. The team of regional advisers and rough sleeper and youth specialists which have provided councils with expert guidance on meeting statutory homelessness duties since 2007 will be disbanded just as the bedroom tax comes in. Also being scrapped are the crisis loans and community care grants which provided a lifeline for people in financial crisis who needed essentials when moving to a new home.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said: "This is the week when the whole country will see whose side David Cameron and George Osborne are really on and who is paying the price for their economic failure."

Tortington Sun 31-Mar-13 18:11:11

the people who need to move - who are ocupying the larger houses are older people

they are not affected because they vote - I want to say 'and they die more easily which would be bad press.' but google 'callums list' and you will see that deaths with a contributable factor being the change in welfare are on the rise and no one gives a shit.

tories sold off social housing

now they are punishing FUCKING PUNISHING those who are in social housing by announcing that suddenly there are 'spare' rooms.

then those who can't get a council house (because of afforementioned tory policies) suddenly buy into the tory spin "yeah spare rooms yeah i can't get a house becuase of all the people lounging around in their spare rooms"

no.

There is no social housing becuase

1) the tories sold it off
2) New Labour sold their working class roots, turned into tories and didn't regulate the banks (the tories also did not want regulation - remember that the next time their spouting at labour MPs on question time)
3) both parties have allowed big developers to sit on land until the economy picks up

4) Both parties cut investment into building social housing (loans for building etc)

5) no building

and so the poor fight against the working poor and no one notices things like council tax hikes and the backdoor privatisation of the NHS happening at the same time.

Please do not buy into this rhetoric, instead of thinking i i i, think - what will be left for your children - no nhs, no pension, no social housing should your children lose their homes in the a boom bust cycle in 20 years.

there is a myth that people on benefits are squandering resources sat on their arses all day.

the truth is rich people and rich politicians are screwing everyone.

If you tolerate this, then your children will be next.

Tortington Sun 31-Mar-13 18:12:28

btw there is no where to move to in most cases. there just isn't the 1 & 2 bed stock which means that you have to find the 14 %

MoreBeta Sun 31-Mar-13 18:15:59

rhonda - believe me that is exactly what she did. Just moved in and established her home there. In effect she just squatted there and eventually was allowed to stay.

She didnt live there until Grandmother went into a home. She may have gone through some procedures to formally apply for it but she still should not be living there in that house that she does not truely NEED.

When will people get it through their heads - you are not entitled to live in a house of your choice paid for by the state. You may need housing and you should not be on the street and you should not be in overcrowded unsuitable housing but there the obligation of the state and your entitlement ends.

YellowandGreenandRedandBlue Sun 31-Mar-13 18:18:43

Morebeta - what year did your aunt acquire the tenancy?

MoreBeta Sun 31-Mar-13 18:20:04

It was about 10 years ago.

MoreBeta Sun 31-Mar-13 18:24:42

Incidentally, my children share a bedroom in our private rented house age 11 and 13 (both are boys). I dont see the problem. It is not a big bedroom either.

IneedAsockamnesty Sun 31-Mar-13 18:25:01

MoreBeta,

To succeed a LA tenancy you have to have lived in it for at least 6 months prior to the actual named tenant dying or going into hospital/care.

You have to be able to prove this with things like bills council tax and benefit claim evidence or hmrc formal evidence.

You have to be able to be gov traceable to that property.

Also a tenancy cannot be succeeded more than once so in the case of a joint tenancy changing to a single tenancy due to death or separation that's classed as ONE succession so that tenancy cannot be succeeded again ever.

So your either telling a big whopper to back up your viewpoint on the subject or your aunt has committed fraud.

rhondajean Sun 31-Mar-13 18:26:55

Beta from many years of experience in housing I can assure you she would not be able to secure a tenancy on a house which did not at that point meet her current needs as established by their letting policy.

That may have changed over time and you may not fully be aware of all the circumstances, but I can categorically assure you it would not happen. The sheer amount of complaints that would be lodged by others on the list for a start, regardless of the legislation and individual policy, would be unbelievable. I've worked in places where similar things were percieved to have happened without people knowing the full circumstances and if you are waitingn for a house, you are not shy to complain about percieved injustices.

Catapult, remember to make sure the goat is HD. And preferably 3d now.

Tortington Sun 31-Mar-13 18:27:27

"So your either telling a big whopper to back up your viewpoint on the subject or your aunt has committed fraud."

indeed

MoreBeta Sun 31-Mar-13 18:28:15

Hmm... well I obviously am not going to accuse my Aunt of fraud but the plain fact is she lives there with her partner in a two bed house she does not NEED. She did suceed my Grandmother and lived there while my Grandmother was in a home and not before.

The local Council know she is there.

YellowandGreenandRedandBlue Sun 31-Mar-13 18:28:28

Ok. That sounds like maybe the area didn't have a fair allocations policy. I can't see it happening today but am not convinced it sounds legal for ten years ago.

But the issue is that people who currently really need their homes and where there is nowhere suitable to move out to, face paying more or being evicted whilst other people (pensioners) with large homes are not. Whoever is or isn't able to stay, there is just not enough correctly sized accommodation to improve the situation across the country.

We can't fix the national housing crisis by picking up on the few anomalies like Beta's aunt. We need more houses and we need many of them to be social housing. There is a massive shortage of smaller properties for pensioners to move into.

IneedAsockamnesty Sun 31-Mar-13 18:40:01

Its was not legal 10 years ago.

To do it legally even back then she would have had to move in at least 6 months before your GM left and not been traceable to any other address.the LA would have to have been aware of her being there.

Its also likely she would have to have been named as a joint tenant given that your GM and GD where most likely joint tenants so when he died your GM would have succeeded the tenancy as a sole tenant.

Because as weird as it sounds a severed joint tenancy is classed as succeeded but if the LA allow that sole tenant to later add another tenant thus becoming a joint tenant again they couldn't then boot out the newer tenant when the other dies or goes into a home.even if it had already been succeeded. But they can and do refuse any future succession without a joint tenancy.

Its been common practice and the rules since the early 80's

MoreBeta Sun 31-Mar-13 19:10:20

Sockreturn - ".....but if the LA allow that sole tenant to later add another tenant thus becoming a joint tenant again they couldn't then boot out the newer tenant when the other dies or goes into a home."

Now that sounds a lot like what actually happened. My Grandmother added her to the tenancy and she physically moved in full time (she stayed occassionally before that) after Grandmother physically moved out.

She still does not NEED the 2 bed house.

rhondajean Sun 31-Mar-13 19:14:21

No, but the letting policy at the time would have allowed (possibly actively encouraged if there was a shortage of smaller properties at the time) her to have a two bedroom house.

She did nothing wrong by accepting it.

I have known of cases where teenage children have had to move out of their home when their mother died because it would then be too large for the tenancy they would be allowed. Harsh to lose your mother and your home in one fell swoop, eh?

IneedAsockamnesty Sun 31-Mar-13 19:17:11

For that to happen it would have had to be her main residence for at least 6 months possibly 12 months. As its not quite as easy as most people think to get them to add a joint tenant especially if its likely the existing tenant is not going to remain there for much longer due to ohh fuck I can't think of a tactful way to say this but what I mean is about to peg it or go off to a home.

morebeta

note i pointed out this house is fully adapted for my needs and by fully i mean not just lip service to a bedroom and a sort of bathroom .i mean bedrooms a fully adapted bathroom a kitchen i can use , enough room that i can actually turn my wheelchair around ,access front and back which is rare as normally your only allowed to have one adapted access

when my kids leave home i would happily move to a smaller fully adapted property but they are very rare only ever partial adaptation so to adapt your looking even nowadays at least £30 k upwards

oh and my dc do share but erm i cant put a 10 year old girl in with 18 and 16 year old boys and ds3 cant share due to sn
pst 3d goat no good gives me headache

MajaBiene Sun 31-Mar-13 19:18:49

I know two people affected by the bedroom tax who live in specially adapted houses due to disability - how ridiculous that they should have benefits reduced because of that! They can hardly "downsize" if they need adapted homes.

MoreBeta Sun 31-Mar-13 19:21:25

rhonda - I dont think she did anything wrong/illegal but the plain fact was she lived in private accomodation before and just 'inherited' a council house she doesn't actually need.

That surely has to stop and a lot of old people (ie 65 yr olds like my Aunt) did inherit council houses from parents or just stayed in them after their children left. It is one ofthe reasons there is such a shortage. They need to move. Govt olicy shouls address that problem before coming down hard on youing people.

Of course they won't because old people vote in bigger numbers than young people.

and i know i am not only one caught i have friend with disabled child and they had adaptation done bedroom built downstairs for their child to access and a bathroom they could use .As bedroom upstairs was no way could be adapted for access and child to big to lift anymore

turning from a 2 bed to a 3 bed and guess what they hit with bedroom tax as they have a empty bedroom .Fact there child can not use that room apparently not matter

Maja yup because by law we need a minimum amount of floor space we often end up in slightly bigger houses .

for example i downsize in future to a 2 bed i still need same amount of space downstairs i have now which do not exist so means a 2 bed would need extension and how that save money who knows

MiniTheMinx Sun 31-Mar-13 19:34:49

TheHumancatapult

I'm sure a read somewhere that LAs can assess people on an individual basis. Will that happen in practice and could you ask if they would assess your circs ?

MajaBiene Sun 31-Mar-13 19:45:30

There is a discretionary fund that your can apply for Mini but it is limited, so not everyone will get it, and some authorities are going to make people reapply every few months. I think the hope is probably that people won't have the time/resources or won't understand the system.

Mini

to be fiar right now i am ok .if anything I am over crowded but we mange as house perfect other ways

maja

is right here they will only allow maximum of 6 months you are expected to move .quite move where i like to know .Here even normal 2 beds are very few and far between .18 new H/A houses built in 8 years and 3 of them 2 beds rest 3 bed who knows how many sold

so problem is not just people with disability but where do you go ? when nowhere to go and move area can not happen as you have to live somewhere at least 12 months before considered for housing .let alone schools and letting peole grow up be part of a community

because you loose that community feeling then estates become places no one wants to live because people know they going be moved so stop caring .

i know my neighbours i know people on my estate, people help each other out watch out for each other .So its an area people want to live because its retained feeling of community

stephrick Sun 31-Mar-13 20:29:37

more housing is the answer, more 1 bed flats so people can move on and let families have family housing. It makes no sense that a person on their own should be living in 2 or 3 bed housing when there is a shortage and kids are bought up in b&b, but the government MUST provide smaller accomadation, I don't agree that they should be evicted without anywhere to go. Sort the housing problem out then implement the scheme, they are doing it arse backwards.

MiniTheMinx Sun 31-Mar-13 20:36:36

So you can apply and get help for six months, where are these smaller homes going to come from in just six months.

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