This is revealing – and shocking. If you haven’t read Speye Joe before, read this now:
From April 2012 to March 2019 housing associations in England have closed 14 properties every working day that accommodated older persons, disabled persons, women fleeing domestic abuse or homeless persons.
69 properties per working week and 2,501 properties per year across all forms of sheltered and supported housing has been the average that have been closed down just by housing associations according to official figures released last week.
In that 7 year period the housing need for older persons, for domestic abuse victims for disabled and for homeless persons has all increased significantly yet social landlords have abandoned housing need in favour of housing greed as the same English housing associations have chosen to develop 78 new shared ownership and leasehold properties per working day while closing 14 supported and sheltered properties each working day.
The reason and answer is simple. It is Universal Credit, more specifically it is the abject failure of the Tory government totally forgetting the facts that housing benefit is paid to supported and sheltered housing when they developed the Universal Credit policy.
It is crass incompetence by government that has seen supported & sheltered housing reduce by 17,508 properties since April 2012 while all HA properties have increased by 281,751 over the same time.
Thanks are due to Joe Halewood for bringing this to light:
Bedroom tax tenants will be fined £30,000 and placed on the rogue landlord database if they do what the Tories advise them to do and take in lodgers to mitigate the bedroom tax!
Take in a lodger to mitigate the bedroom tax in your spare room as official advice but if you do then your local council will fine you £30,000 for following government advice because the room you let out to the lodger and for which you are being charged bedroom tax is not a bedroom as it is not of the minimum size to be a bedroom!
[According to government advice, minimum bedroom sizes are] 6.51 square metres … 70 square feet… 10.22 square metres … 110 square feet [for two adults] and 4.64 square metres … 50 square feet [for children aged 10 and younger].
The government (and social landlords and bedroom tax decision makers in local councils) and the courts will say these minimum sizes ONLY apply to:
(a) private landlords and
(b) ONLY in HMOs and
(c) ONLY when there are 5 people or more living in the same property.
One option that the government say is available for those nasty social tenants who are under occupying … is for the tenant to let out their allegedly spare room to a lodger. YET that would make the tenant a private landlord who is creating a HMO in a property with 5 persons and meets all of the criteria for being a rogue landlord and be subject to a £30,000 fine and to go on to the rogue landlord list for letting out a bedroom that is less than 70 square feet.
The Tories think social landlords deserve 4 times the increase of a police officer, nurse or teacher as that is what they announced.
How nice of the Conservatives to announce … that social tenants rent will increase by £4.64 billion? What? You missed this and thought yesterday was about the Tories and more council housing?
UPDATE: To avoid any confusion the £4.64 billion social tenant rent increase figure is the cost in 2024/25 and for that year only. The cumulative cost over the 5 year period is £13.56 billion more in social rent from £858m more in 2020/21; £1.75bn more in 2021/22; £2.68bn more in 2022/23; £3.64bn in 2023/24 and £4.64bn more in 2024/25 – £13.56 billion in social housing rent increases the Tories announced yesterday!
That council housing won’t happen by the way but there is little doubt about the £4.64 billion that social tenants will be shafted for in 2025.
The CPI+1% rent rises based on current CPI will see the social housing rent roll increase from £22 billion to £26.64 billion an increase of 21% or so.
Note too that these are cautiously low figures (a) ignore any average rent rises between 2016 and 2020 and (b) any increased percentage of affordable (sic) rent properties and (c) assume no overall increase in the numbers of social housing properties from 2016 to 2020 – yet all things being equal:
It means the overall Housing Benefit bill will increase by £3.47 billion
This rental increase of £4.64 billion far outweighs the £2 billion that Theresa May allegedly made available yesterday
This 21% rent increase will mean that many more of the 385,000 prospective social housing tenants will be refused social housing as they will be hit by the overall benefit cap policy and the LHA Maxima Cap policy and go straight to the homeless queue
Supported housing will close altogether unless the Tories give 21% more to local councils in the LHA Maxima Cap pot
Bedroom Tax will increase 21%
Many more existing tenants will also find their Housing Benefit cut as they too will be hit by the stagnating overall benefit cap figure of £20,000 per year.
DHP demand will easily double and local council tax levels will have to rocket to pay for massively increased homelessness costs
Homelessness will rocket even further because of this inflation busting rent increase as will rough sleeping.
This one is an absolute cracker. Here’s SPeye Joe:
Iain Duncan Smith has knowingly and deliberately lied to parliament. He is a liar as can so easily be proven. I make no bones either about calling him a liar and a deliberate and knowing one and I refuse to use euphemisms such as being economical with the truth and the like – he is a liar as the figures below highlight and in just a simple 10 minute blog using official figures that he produces!
Joe won’t get any argument from this part of the Internet. Vox Political rightly named Iain Duncan Smith a liar all the way back in May 2013. But Joe has him over a barrel:
He lied over the bedroom tax… IDS claims A saving of £830m so far as at yesterday. The absolute maximum… is £615.87 million so IDS has stated a figure AT LEAST 35% MORE THAN IS THE MAXIMUM POSSIBLE.
IDS claims the full first two years saving to be £1 billion. Yet the absolute maximum saving is £736.228 million and again 35% MORE THAN IS THE MAXIMUM POSSIBLE.
Take away the DHP costs which for the first two years for bedroom tax are £115 million and we see the maximum possible saving is £621m over two full years (£736m – £115m)
So IDS has told parliament that the ‘saving’ is 61 PER CENT HIGHER THAN IT CAN POSSIBLY BE
Yes he is lying and knowingly lying through his teeth.
Here’s a piece that builds on the warning that social housing tenants are likely to default on their rent if they believe their landlords are failing to carry out important maintenance work. Yr Obdt Srvt has experience of this but we’ll let Joe Halewood’s article speak for itself first:
This week Moodys, the ratings agency, getting very twitchy and saying that Universal Credit with its monthly payment of benefit to tenants and its direct payment of housing benefit to tenants rather than to social landlords as now, will see costs increase by 6.6%. In a piece in Inside Housing it said that Moodys…
“…warned that the payment of benefit for housing costs to tenants ‘is likely to increase the risk of non-payment or underpayment of rent’. It pointed to an average 6.6% fall in rent payments recorded under Department for Work and Pensions demonstration projects trialling the payment of direct benefit.”
Inside Housing didn’t comment on this (now there’s a surprise!!) but they should and everyone involved in social housing should sit up and take notice. The national rent roll, the sum of all social housing rents is about £19.5 billion per year (4.1m rents at circa £90pw) so 6.6% of that is £1.27 BILLION PER YEAR
Welfare reform (sic) policy will directly lead to £1.27 BILLION less paid in rent to social landlords each year!!
If, as is widely reported, the bedroom tax has seen about £140 million or so increase in arrears to landlords then direct payments risk at £1.27 Billion is more than EIGHT times a greater financial risk.
An officer from the Welsh Assembly’s fair rent tribunal, with lawyer in tow, visited Vox Political Towers earlier this week (Mrs Mike having appealed against a bid to increase the amount of rent considered ‘fair’ on the building).
As the grounds of the complaint were mainly to do with the landlords’ failure to uphold their side of the contract (by not carrying out repairs, and with work such as grounds maintenance (grass cutting) taking place far less frequently than agreed), this was a perfect opportunity to point out, not only that awarding an undeserved ‘fair rent’ will merely add a burden to the taxpayer in housing benefit, but also that Universal Credit payments to tenants will mean a huge loss of income for social landlords as tenants withhold the money while they wait for the repairs they deserve.
There was no response other than acknowledgement of the comment but when this bomb drops – and it will – at least the authorities will not be able to say they weren’t warned.
The bedroom tax vote will NOT, I repeat NOT change the policy ahead of the General Election in May 2015. The events surrounding it may cause all sorts of political shake ups but the vote will NOT change the bedroom tax for tenants or landlords affected by it before the next General Election, writes Joe Halewood on hisSPeye Joeblog.
It will change diddly squat, nil, zip, nada, and absolutely bugger all …just in case you haven’t yet got the picture. So, please, please, please ignore all the absolute crap you read about this vote and what it means for the bedroom tax. It means that the bedroom tax will NOT change one iota before the next General Election.
You can read the rest of the article on SPeye Joe but the long and the short of it is, he’s right. The earliest the Affordable Housing Bill could become law is after the next General Election.
That’s not really the point, though, is it?
The point is that the Conservatives have been defeated in a vote on one of their principle policies of repression and their Coalition allies, the Liberal Democrats, have split from them on this matter.
While we must all acknowledge it is unlikely the Lib Dems have made this move out of any sense of morality – they had no problem with inflicting the Tax on us all in the first place – this means they are looking at the electoral implications.
They have realised that the Bedroom Tax is hugely unpopular and becoming more so by the day.
They have realised they cannot hope to be re-elected in useful numbers if they continue to support it.
The Conservatives – from the way they behaved on Friday, have not.
It seems the government has actually imposed a ‘welfare reform’ that could give benefit claimants an advantage (for a change)!
Joe Halewood, over on the SPeye Joe blog, reckons the move to Direct Payments for social housing tenants will give them far more power – if they are willing to grasp it.
He writes: “3.4 million or so social housing tenants have their rent paid through Housing Benefit. This goes directly to the social landlord with the HB money never passing through the tenants hands. Landlords like this arrangement and have become accustomed to it. Tenants like this too as they have never had to worry about paying rent if on benefit.
“To put that into context the coalition admits 1.4 million of social housing HB claimants are not affected by any welfare reform policy by being pensioners and so this DP change will affect the other 2 million social housing tenants of working-age who claim HB. Eventually that is 2 million rent accounts each week that will be affected and 2 million rent accounts with rent payments no longer guaranteed. Social housing has just over 4 million tenant households so DP sees a change from roughly two in every three rents being guaranteed by Housing Benefit to just 1.4 million being guaranteed out of 4 million or about one in three.
“The coalition says in its spin on DP that it wants to make tenants more responsible by paying them directly so that they can pay the landlord. This is an issue of control between tenant and social landlord with the current system seeing landlords in control of the payment of rent: Yet that changes with DP which puts the responsibility and the control of rent payment with the social tenant – and that is a monumental change as the social tenant finally becomes the customer is what DP means.
“Social landlords’ service levels vary significantly and tenants currently have little clout in forcing their landlord to undertake repairs or the like. Yet that changes dramatically with DP as the tenant becomes in control of the payment of rent. If and when the tenant has any form of beef with the landlord he can potentially, and will in practice, withhold rent. It makes no difference that social tenants withholding rent while awaiting repair has a highly dubious legal basis as tenants will withhold rent for this reason in far greater numbers.”
There are problems with this – the social landlord can try legal action if there is a belief that the tenant’s complaint is unfounded – but if large numbers of tenants all acted at the same time, they would be swamped.
It is an interesting spin on the usual story fed to us by local authorities (who currently pay Housing Benefit). They say DP means tenants who are unused to paying their own rent will find it hard to keep up payments because they will be tempted to use the money on other necessities (for which they don’t have enough).
The suggestion that they will use the money as leverage to force landlords into complying with their legal responsibilities is far more empowering – and no doubt exactly what the oppressors in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition don’t want.
This is a classic example of cracked Conservative thinking, exposed by SPeye Joe on his blog for all to see:
All men are capable of rape therefore all men are rapists was one of the strident assertions of the New York feminist movement in the early 1970’s.
Contrast that with what Iain Duncan Smith says about the bedroom tax and I quote directly from a DWP argument put into the Upper Tribunal which says:
a. the Government intended that all rooms that are capable of being used as a bedroom should be classified as such (see for instance DWP circular U6/2013);
The absolute perversity of such a statement is lost on the DWP legal department. It is legally, economically. practically and politically perverse to say a room capable of being a bedroom is a bedroom.
I can fit a mattress on my bath therefore its a bedroom.
I can fit a single bed in my bathroom therefore it is a bedroom.
I can fit a bed into my kitchen therefore it is a bedroom
I can fit a bed in my living room therefore it is a bedroom
All of the above are true and therefore according to Iain Duncan Smith I have 3 bedrooms more than anyone thinks. So will 4 million or so social tenants across the country.
Do you think that’s crazy? It gets worse. Visit the SPeye Joe blog and see how bad it gets.
Let me put that into some perspective reader as aside from tenants struggling to even keep up with rent due to the bedroom tax and benefit cap and a range of other welfare cuts this would mean the UK’s housing associations sitting on about £1.68 billion of tenants money.
4.2 million rents at an average of £400 per calendar month is £1.68 billion which is what social landlords want to squeeze out of their tenants.
Notwithstanding the fact that the vast majority of tenancy agreements are weekly tenancies and tenants need to be a week in advance, social landlords are seeking to squeeze the tenants for a further 3.33 weeks of rent between now and UC coming online or in other words paying lip service to their own tenancy agreements as legally binding contracts!
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