BEDROOM TAX -SAVING OR JUST ANOTHER GOVERNMENT SHORT CUT INSTEAD OF BUILDING NEW HOUSING
The government's clampdown on benefits is forcing up, rather than cutting, the cost of housing low-income families in wealthy areas, as people are shifted into
and bed and breakfasts, according to new figures obtained for the Observer.
are also reporting a chain of misery and chaos as children are forced
to move schools, and parents have to spend much of their time ferrying
them large distances to
obtained through freedom of information requests shows that at
Westminster council – one of the wealthiest areas in the country – the
bill for homelessness
has shot up by 63.5% since last year as new temporary accommodation has
had to be found for those hit by cuts. The figures show that it has
cost Westminster more to place thousands of people in temporary
accommodation, including hotels, than the council has saved through the
government's welfare clampdown.
BROKEN BRITISH POLITICS
A mechanism to recover rent arrears is to be incorporated into the new
Universal Credit system, by docking the benefit. Landlords who are owed rent by
tenants receiving benefit will be able to request direct payment once a certain
level of rent arrears – as yet undecided – is reached.
When the Department of Work and Pensions receives such a
request, it will automatically initiate a process whereby Universal Credit
payments are docked, so that arrears can be recovered.The deductions currently
permitted by law are 5%, but the Government says it is considering whether the
proportion should be increased. Universal Credit, which is being launched this
autumn, will pay all benefits as a single monthly amount direct to claimants,
including housing benefit.
The system will be similar to the current Local Housing
Allowance in that it will be the tenant, not the private landlord, who receives
the rentHowever, for the first time, social landlords will not be receiving the
rent themselves – instead, it will go to their tenants, to be passed on.
Housing associations taking part in pilots of the
Universal Credit system have already warned that they are seeing increased rent
The Government has recently announced that the trials,
originally due to last a year, will continue for 18 months. The outcome of the
trials will help decide at what stage arrears should mean that the housing
benefit element of Universal Credit is paid direct to landlords, both private
Currently, in the Local Housing Allowance system and also
a pathfinder trial in Manchester, the trigger is two months of arrears.
Bedroom tax campaigners are currently protesting outside Manchester's
Civil Justice Centre on behalf of a single parent who is facing
eviction by her housing association.
Southway Housing Trust is seeking possession of Ella Lorelle's home
in Withington over rent arrears of £500 - arrears the tenant claims were
created by the bedroom tax
Organisations representing lenders and
housing associations in Wales are opposing government proposals to
abolish a mandatory eviction power.
The Renting homes white paper, published on 20 May, proposed
abolishing ground 8 in Wales, a power which is rarely used in the
country but enables landlords to evict tenants who have at least eight
weeks of arrears without having to prove the possession is reasonable.
the Council of Mortgage Lenders and housing association body Community
Housing Cymru this week called for ground 8 to be retained to tackle the
threat of rising arrears as a result of welfare reform.
1. Tory Minister
for Communities, Baroness Hanham, will have upset Tory HQ by letting
slip the fact that the #BedroomTax is indeed a Bedroom Tax (see here).
The Baroness used the phrase in a debate in the House of Lords today.
Until now, Tory politicians were banned from using those words and had
persisted with calling the officially titled under-occupancy charge a
"Spare Room Subsidy".
2. Leigh Day Law
are the law firm challenging the legality of the #BedroomTax in a court
of law. 2 months ago they represented disabled Bedroom Tax victims
against Iain Duncan Smith in an attempt to persuade the judge that the
Bedroom Tax legislation does nothing to take account of the special
requirements and rights of disabled tenants. The latest development
today is that we now know the judge will hand down his verdict on 30
July 2013 (see here for more). For many teetering on the brink of eviction this news cannot come quick enough.
3. The last piece
of news today on the BedroomTax illustrates the very point made in the
paragraph above. News emerged today that a male BedroomTax victim
stabbed himself in the throat at a DWP Benefit Office in Runcorn. He
posed no danger to staff and has since received medical treatment but
the very fact that he feel pushed to take this course of action brings
into stark focus just how serious an impact the #BedroomTax is having on
ordinary people's lives (see here for more).