Housing association speaks out over Bedroom Tax

131222perkins

It seems the chief executive of a local housing association has taken issue with yr obdt srvt over the Bedroom Tax.

Shane Perkins, of Mid Wales Housing, wrote to the Powys-based County Times after I used that paper to expose an illegal action by the county council’s ruling group, aimed at preventing discussing of a motion for the council to adopt a ‘no-eviction’ policy.

The motion asked the council not to evict tenants who fail to pay their rent because of the Bedroom Tax. Councillors who are also private landlords were forbidden from speaking or voting on the motion as they stand to benefit if social housing tenants are forced to seek accommodation with them as a result of the vindictive policy, and this meant 30 councillors had to leave the chamber.

Members of the ruling group, realising there was a real possibility of the motion being carried, then claimed that any councillors who are social housing tenants should also be barred from taking part – a move that is against the law (to the best of my knowledge). My understanding is that a ‘general dispensation’ allows councillors who are council tenants to take part in debates on, and vote on, matters relating to council housing.

Mr Perkins, writing in the paper’s December 20 edition, suggests that it is almost impossible to establish whether or not a tenant has fallen into rent arrears solely as a consequence of the “pernicious” (his word) Bedroom Tax, and claims that the motion was “a meaningless ‘political’ statement”.

He makes the point that it may be possible to apply the policy where the tenant has never previously been in rent arrears, but this would be unfair on other tenants who are similarly affected now but had fallen into arrears for other reasons in the past. He asks why tenants who struggle to meet their rent payments should not receive a financial subsidy or reward for being a good and conscientious tenant; and also points out that the cumulative effect of other regressive changes to benefits is also likely to affect the rent payments of vulnerable people and, to be consistent, Labour’s motion should encompass them also.

He says all social landlords, including the council, will seek to advise and support tenants who are in financial difficulty, but “in the final analysis, if a tenant fails to pay their rent, the ultimate sanction has got to be eviction.

“To do otherwise would be irresponsible, as ultimately the cost of one tenant not paying their rent is borne by all those tenants that do pay, and spiralling arrears will ultimately affect the viability of the council’s housing, which will serve none of its tenants.”

It would be easy to pick holes in his arguments. The whole point of government policy is to make sure that nobody gets a penny more than the Conservative-led Coalition decides they should have – and this government wants to drive people into poverty – so there will be no rewards for hard work. The Labour Party, and non-political groups, has campaigned ceaselessly to force the government into assessing the cumulative impact of its changes to the benefit system, but the government has refused all such calls, knowing as it does that such research would reveal the monstrous truth about its attack on the poorest in society.

If Mr Perkins is really interested, then he should encourage his own MP to support the call for such an assessment in the debate on the ‘WoW’ Petition, due to take place in the House of Commons in the New Year. I helped write that document, which calls for (among other things) “a cumulative impact assessment of welfare reform”. Labour is supporting the motion. I would suggest, therefore, that any criticism of Labour for making a “meaningless ‘political’ statement” is unfounded.

As for the difference between tenants affected by the Bedroom Tax who have never been in arrears before, and those affected by it who have – this should be something a social landlord can track, especially if they are actively seeking to “advise and support” tenants. This support should include examination of a tenants income and outgoings, before and after the Tax was imposed.

The simple fact is that Mr Perkins would move offending tenants into smaller houses if he had any, but he doesn’t. He would not be talking about eviction if he did. He never built them and we must conclude that he never saw the need. Perhaps he believed that the welfare state would continue to support his tenants.

William Beveridge, the architect of that system, in the report that bears his name, said the British government should fight what he called the “giant evils” of society, including Want.

How could Beveridge know that, 70 years later, the British government would be actively increasing Want, wherever it could. That is what the Bedroom Tax, and the benefit cap, and all the other cuts brought in by this spiteful Conservative-led Coalition are about.

These measures are crimes against the citizens of this country – citizens who have paid into the State, generation after generation since the 1940s, believing that it would look after them if the spectre of Want cast its shadow at their door.

Mr Perkins describes the changes as “pernicious”, but if he allows a single tenant to be evicted then he will be a willing accomplice.

That is what he is saying when he tells us he is prepared to use this “final sanction”.

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18 thoughts on “Housing association speaks out over Bedroom Tax

  1. John Keen

    Where a council tax is concerned it would have made more sense to “sanction” councils finances if they failed to build “more suitable” housing as they clearly failed to do so for so many years, but there it still would have been a hypocritical action since it was GOVERNMENT policy not to build.
    There again why not punish the tenants who were placed in those “over susidised” houses by councils that NEVER had a policy of making sure the tenant was placed in “appropriate” sized housing.
    Shouldn’t really call it a bedroom tax, it would be more honest to call it a POLICY TRAP tax.
    Perhaps it is the governments idea that taxing people for being in houses they supplied that are too big for them will encourage them to avoid the tax by simply buying their houses from the council? i mean this government are making it so easy to get on the house buyers market what could possibly be the problem?

    1. Mam Bach

      Policy Trap? I like this. Particularly relevant where tenants a few years back were encouraged to move into bigger properties that they couldn’t fill with families eg more than four flights of stairs is deemed too much for a small child every day; therefore a 2 bed flat on eighth floor is not able to be let to any family with children; so singles and couples were asked to transfer in to free up ground floor flats. Now they’re being charged more for being willing to move to help house families.

  2. Joseph Smith

    If it’s true that these actions by this Government and Councils are in fact crimes against humanity, why are they not being questioned by police, EU courts etc?

    1. Mike Sivier

      It’s a crime in the sense that it is an act that is harmful not only to some individual, but also to the community, and the act itself is accompanied by the intention to do it. That’s a textbook definition of a crime and, even though the Bedroom Tax has been enacted as the exact opposite of a crime (a law), it fits the bill.

  3. moondancer_by_night

    Actually Perkins is wrong its very easy to see if rent arrears are due to bedroom tax. Look at a rent statement, if before the tax kicked in they were paying the full rent due (with or without HB) each week/ month and then see how much they are in arrears by and divide that by number of weeks/months tax has been enforced, and then see if each amount adds up to the exact deficit the bedroom tax is causing. Its simple. Those who are mananaging to pay rent by not the deficit should show up. those who arent bothering to try and keep up with the usual (pre bedroom tax rent) should also show up. Tarring everyone with the same rent arrears = eviction crap is unfair and unjust, but then what do people like Perkins care about that? his response is disingenious and wont work.

  4. I. D. Smith, Esq.

    I disapprove of Christmas, which in my view verges on the decadent. Phoney too. All that lefty “goodwill to all man” garbage encouraging people not to stick it to their neighbours before their neighbours stick it unto them. What’s that all about. Dog eat dog. Law of the jungle. That’s the way life should be. Get the incentives right. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of poverty and hunger amongst the lower orders… I mean didn’t the Christian Saints claim that starvation and privation brought them closer to the Lord? We need to squelch out this bleeding heart compassion and sense of social justice twaddle. Christmas. Yeuch! Time off work for no good reason and giving presents and stuff to babes and children and assorted lower class tykes and riff-raff and so on. Well, more lefty garbage, eh? More froth and bubble. More socialist rubbish about “equality” and “progressiveness” and the “nobility” of man and – whatever! Idiots! The working classes were better off and happier when they knew their place and remained below stairs like well trained dogs.

    Spare the rod, spoil the child.

    1. Iain Duncan Smith, Lord High Chancellor of Enderby Land

      Despite the fact that I agree with everything that “I.D. Smith, Esq” says the truth is that this is just another of my imposters who, when I catch up with them, will be forced to shovel horse and cattle manure for sixteen hours a day, seven days a week, with no holidays and for no pay.

      I shall, however, avail myself of this opportunity to wish Mike and Mrs Mike a happy Christmas and an excellent New Year.

  5. Sharon Morgan

    I’m with this housing association and I am one of the ones lumbered with the bedroom tax. To keep a roof over our heads we only have one meal a day because the rest of our money goes on heating, electric and water. Shameful disgrace when we can’t rely on social housing in times of trouble. It’s not very social at all. Especially as they can not provide people with smaller places to live in.

  6. Andy Griffin

    excellent piece Mike, their strategy becomes more apparent as each day unfolds, the true meaning of the term ‘idealogical austerity’ being defined in our daily lives
    keep up the good work m8

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  8. John Keen

    Let’s be straight about this, The conservatives have failed to do a damned thing that helped the economy on a long term basis for FOUR DECADES.
    They seem to find, each time they are in power, some utilty or other to sell off, if they cannot find that then it will be a “government” department. The sale of the utilities in the early eighties paid for the boom of that decade and into the nineties when it ran out and the economy started to nose dive.
    So they “lost” the election and it was upto another party to deal with it. Now, that party was not popular for long as some hard decisions had to be made but what amazed me was that they did NOT constantly blame the previous parties actions for it and they quietly went about putting it the economy back on track, would have made it if not for the bank crash and that was again down to a false belief, the banks had, that they could carry on as if the economy WASN’T already in a dive…

    In other words the “golden years of the eighties” was a FALSE boom and could NEVER have been sustained, it was a time where there was for a short period with an excess of cash but rather than using it as a buffer against the end of the “boom” (which was obviously going to occur) it was used to keep fooling people everything was great.

    And today, we have a government blaming anyone they can think of who will not likely fight back, applying bedroom tax, (spare room subsidy never existed untill it was imagined by a minister and could then be used as a tool) refusing disabilty payments, sanctioning unemployed for being unemployed and applauding the increased need for food banks) failing to admit the base of the problem..

    Whatever you do, DO NOT show them evidence of their errors, they will merely call you a scare mongerer and a whiner.

    Efficiency reports delayed again and again, finacial reports delayed the same way… if you can’t see the details you can’t tell them they messed up… simple really.

    If you cannot acknowledge a fault you cannot fix it.

    If you never have doubt and never make mistakes you need a straight jacket.

    It is amusing (in a dark and twisted way i suppose) that the government use consultants to “help” decide policy and said consultant will not be doubted even though they may have NO experience of the subject of the policy but will REFUSE to listen to any entity that has EXTENSIVE experience.

    Sorry meant to keep this short and got carried away.

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