Sunday, May 19, 2024

Labour councillors inundated with concerns over “Bedroom Tax”

IF THERE was any doubt that the bedroom tax was a matter of debate, then look no further than the blog written by Myles Cook. There are over 140 comments there, in what is a lively and interesting discussion.

But what about the councillor’s “postbag”? We asked a number of Labour councillors to tell us what concerns (if any) they had come across over the last month. (We will be asking other parties in due course).

Here are some of the replies

Cllr Barbara Rice (Chadwell St Mary)

1. A young mother who was housed from a high rise to a 3 bedroom house after many years. She has four children, two have now left home although they come to stay occasionally. She has two  girls at home now and is considered to have too many bedrooms under the new rules.

She is distraught that she may end up back in a flat and she will not have any space for her other children to visit.

2. A lady is registered blind and has one son left at home he is 18. She has been told she will need to move or pay for her ‘excess’ accommodation. The property has been adapted to her needs and she has a supportive group of neighbours who help with shopping etc., she is also distraught and frightened. I have found this tax to be particularly cruel. It rocks the foundations of a humanist society taking away stability and humiliating oarents who cannot hold onto a childs home through no fault of their own.

Cllr Clare Baldwin (Tilbury St Chads)

“I have a family with 3 children and one on the way. All children are same sex with ages of 10 and under,and are on benefits.

They have a 3 bed house and have been told they have to pay for a room as all three girls are of an age where they can share. They are struggling and have been told they can get a lodger.

I wouldn’t want a stranger sharing my house where my children live, but now they are worried if they will afford the extra rent.

I fully agree if there is one person in a 3-bed house then they can down size ready to put a larger family, otherwise pay the extra but not when there are children that are going to qualify soon for a 3-bed anyway.

Cllrs Angie Gaywood (Stifford Clays)

1. Single mum-three children-4 bedroom house.

House adapted with additional bedroom built as extension on ground floor (trust me its very small and was previously bin store or coal store?)

Oldest son aged 16 has disability to do with his legs so cannot walk far and finds it tiring to walk up stairs.

He has a degenerative illness so will end up full time in wheelchair – currently uses wheelchair for several hours a day.

Twins aged 10 have single room each – one has severe autism and sleeps no more than 2 hours a night.

Under bedroom tax I think they would lose funding re two boys having to share rule so would only receive benefit for three bed rather than four – Mum seems to think she is going to lose out

2. Married Couple – 3 bed house

Both have different disabilities – wife has higher rate DLA for both mobility and care, husband has higher rate DLA for mobility lower rate for care. They require seperate bedrooms as their disabilities mean they would disturb each other during night time.

Additionally son stays several nights a week to help out and sleeps in third bedroom.

(whilst they will be able to claim discretionary housing allowance it would not stretch to the rent for a three bed only two) under the bedroom tax before this payment they would only qualify for one bedroom.

Cllr Steve Liddiard (Tilbury St Chads)

Morally, I agree that social housing should meet the actual needs of the tenant. Single persons occupying 3/4 bedroom houses cannot be condoned or supported in my view. Every effort to move these people into appropriate accommodation should be made.

We should know by July, what impact the benefit cap has on Thurrock as families move out of London.

I think there should be an optional tax free period for those indicating they wish to downsize as the housing authority will be under pressure to find the right stock.

I’ve had several pieces of casework

1. Man, working part time, low income, late 20’s, renting a 1-bed home in Tilbury was told he now qualifies for 1 room only. His benefit was lowered by £200 pounds per month.

2. 50 y.o. Lady, mental health issues, in 2 bed high rise wants to downsize to 1 bed sheltered before bedroom tax applies.

3. Lady (mental health issues) in 3 bed house in Tilbury wants 1 bed gf flat and financial help to move.

4. Lady 40y.o. wants to downsize, 2bed to 1 bed flat and move from E. Tilbury to Tilbury but council policy doesn’t allow transfers for tenants in arrears.

5. 50 y.o. unemployed Man in Tilbury 3/4 bed house will not downsize voluntarily. Bedroom tax will maybe drive him to move or threatened suicide.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Shocking!, this Government are so far removed from reality, before implementing such schemes, they should be made to trial the situations and live the way they expect others to, this is a farce, however I can understand single occupants being moved out of 3/4 bed houses, BUT, has no one considered some of those whose properties have been adapted for their personal needs and the fact that many do need family carers staying over.

    As for being a London overspill, time to stop, lets give homes to younger family members from Thurrock who are just starting out, I believe we have our fill of imigrants, you only need to go into Grays now, not so many English speakers in the town now, wouldn’t be so bad if it was integration, but many colonise and are VERY ignorant to our way of life and us as people, giving over they feel they have more right to be there than us. So why bring more in, when we are at overload now.

    Bedroom taxes are morally wrong, why does everything come at a cost, why wasn’t a ballot done by TBC to see who if any one willingly wanted to give up properties, the unfairness here is many have lived all their lives in the same house, some area of Thurrock, now see their homes taken and most probably filled with immigrant families who show have no ties locally and little or no respect for our way of life and the area.

    Where the concept removes individuals or families with special needs or homes that are converted for their needs, will TBC ensure they have the same facilities available in their NEW homes, I doubt it, has the Government have considered this fact and if they have not, there probably won’t be any legislation laid down to ensure local authorities deal with these situations fairly, so if they don’t have to, they won’t.

    Here’s a little snippet a company director friend of mine offered his Family allowance back many years ago, as he believed he was comfortable enough to not need it, he was told then, we cannot take it back, I know now this is being done, but haven’t we missed the boat, AGAIN!.

  2. I’m sorry, but I have little sympathy with many of the cases here. The case of the blind lady I do find trobubling, also the case of the family with the disabled lad needs looking at. The others………

    I don’t want to bash single parents; however, when I read the words: “A young mother who was housed from a high rise to a 3 bedroom house after many years. She has four children, two have now left home…”

    My wife and I would have loved four kids, but because we don’t believe it right to rely on State largesse we stopped at two.

    Apart from the most infirm, the State SHOULD NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR HOUSING ANYONE! IN don’t care if theyr’e Thurrock born and bred or a recently arrived immigrant.

    Many (perhaps not all) will have continued to have children despite being on state benefits. This is patently wrong.

    It’s about time that people started seeing council housing as a state benefit. All other benifits are adapted as your circumstances change. Housing should be no diefferent. 5 year fixed term tenancies – that’s the answer. Obviously provision would be made for the disabled, but for eveeryone else, 5 years should be sufficient to sort yourself out. If people think that’s cruel, set up and fund your own housing associations – I have no problem with that – just don’t expect the State (which remember doesn’t have its own money) to pay for the (often) fecklessness of others. It’s not fair.

    Council housing for milatry personnel (still subject potentially to a fixed term), fine – I believe that was the original intention. Everyone else (excluding disabled – go and make your own way in the world. It’s about time we re-examined the relationship between the individula and the State.

  3. Whilst there are clearly some troubling issues re disabilities which are being worked out (indeed there was an announcement on this from Government last week), and some cases where common sense needs to apply (the Clare Baldwin case) most of these highlight the fact this policy is the right idea.

    Perhaps, if certain councillors are unable to provide sensible advice to residents, I can assist? For example, Cllr Rice your can deal with your casework load very promptly.

    1) Stop being selfish. Half the reason you spent so long in a high rise was because the 3 bed properties were full of people keeping spare bedrooms unused most of the week! The taxes of overcrowded high rise families should not subsidise your guest room!
    2) Not sure if the policy affects the disabled? In any event, your 18 your old son could work and pay some rent. I started paying rent to my parents as soon as I got my first job at 19. He should be able to earn enough to pay for an extra bedroom. If he’s a full-time carer he should get carers allowance I believe.

    As for Steve Liddiard’s resident attempting blackmail (no 5) – how daft is it that we’re keeping a 50 year old unemployed man in a 3/4 bed house?!

  4. I’ll just make a couple of points: 1) As I made clear in my blog, the ‘bedroom tax’ as it has been called is not actually a tax and I agree with the Tories that it has been misnamed; however, the name has stuck and for people affected by the changes, it feels very much like a tax and an attack on them. 2) The case of the blind lady in Cllr Rice’s ward does shed some light on other problems with the ‘bedroom tax’ which is that it doesn’t take account of people’s individual circumstances. Specially adapted homes have already cost the council money and to downsize someone from such a home may require adapting a new property before they can move which will cost even more. It also takes no consideration of an individual’s social network that may be essential for that individual’s existence.

    If you want to enter the debate around the ‘bedroom tax’, pop along to my blog on the blog page. I’ll be keeping an eye on that page so you can consider it a live debate.

  5. Cllr Clare Baldwin (Tilbury St Chads)

    “I have a family with 3 children and one on the way. All children are same sex with ages of 10 and under,and are on benefits.
    They have a 3 bed house and have been told they have to pay for a room as all three girls are of an age where they can share. They are struggling and have been told they can get a lodger.

    WRONG CLARE – 1 bedroom for the adult, 1 bedroom for 2 children – remaining child – 1 bedroom = 3 bedrooms.

  6. Cllrs Angie Gaywood (Stifford Clays)

    1. Single mum-three children-4 bedroom house.

    The Autistic child could be considered as needing his own room but it would be up to the local authority to decide to grant the additional room depending on medical evidence provided. These are the changes announced last week by the Government.

  7. Cllr Clare Baldwin (Tilbury St Chads)

    “I have a family with 3 children and one on the way. All children are same sex with ages of 10 and under,and are on benefits”

    Why is this person having another child if she is not working to support all these children?

    People need to realise that the State does not have a money tree which is just sitting there. It is people who pay tax into the system that funds this type of behaviour.

    “Lady (mental health issues) in 3 bed house in Tilbury wants 1 bed gf flat and financial help to move”

    She should be moved but with minimal financial help . Just cover the cost of the removals van.

    “50 y.o. unemployed Man in Tilbury 3/4 bed house will not downsize voluntarily. Bedroom tax will maybe drive him to move or threatened suicide”

    This man nees to move into a more appropriate property or get a job doing anything if he wants to stay there.

    Many of these cases show that so many people seem to think they are entitled to money with no thought for how that money got there. There is a large fraction of people in the UK who have no or little concept of money. No wonder why so many tax paying people are leaving the UK and moving their families abroad.

  8. Bernard87 – I agree with you about the woman with three children and another on the way; this is the type of claimant who gives the rest of us a bad name. I would point out, however, that no mention is made of whether there is a husband or partner in the family unit who may or may not be contributing tax revenue so, while I agree with you on not having more children than a person can afford, I’d have to reserve judgement on whether the family is completely living at the taxpayer’s expense.

    BTW – I hope you’ve had a chance to read my reply to your last comment to me on my blog.

  9. VMC – Whilst you’re correct that the article doesn’t make mention of a husband or partner, I’d be willing to bet my bo!!ocks to a barn dance that there isn’t one on the scene – not that it particularly changes my view.

    We do need to restore the link between what’s paid in and what’s taken out – A link broken – I understand – by Margaret Thatcher, and never restored.

    At the risk of repeating myself, why do people believe that the state should have to house them? I could sort of understand it (post-war). It was a nation’s gift to itself – even though it was not able to afford it. Given the horrors that generation witnessed, I don’t think any of us would begrudge them their indulgence. God knows I for one am grateful for the hard-won freedom that though increasingly I find myself marching to the beat of a German drum – but I have to say, as that generation ends, why should subsequent generations enjoy even more generous benefits – it makes no sense.

  10. The Contrarian – I’m just pointing out that we don’t know whether there is someone contributing tax revenue but you’re right, there may not be.

    As for the rest, I think that would be best discussed on the blog page.

  11. rocket1 – Change is needed, I agree. But carefully thought-out change, not this patchwork quilt of brainstormed ideas cobbled together with no consideration of the effect on the people who rely on the benefits system.

  12. To be honest, I’m inclined to think they’re going about it in the right way. Whatever changes you make, somebody is always going to be worse off – that’s sort of the point. My only crticism is that there’s probably scope to do more.

    Work has to pay, but with the ever-generous system that’s in place now, that’s not always the case. Think how much better this country would be if the welfare state was, as was orignially inteded, a safety net. We could afford to be much more generous. As it is, we’re spreading it so thinly that it’s those that are really in need that miss out.

  13. This is driving me to commit suicide as i wont be able to live anyway after paying all this bedroom and council tax which they never said anything about me paying council tax as well but just got a letter this morning saying i have to put 19% towards? People might say well just down size? I have lived here for 30 odd years and going though a bereavement at the moment and cannot work because of my health so the only time i will leave this house is in a body bag.
    I just cant take it any more and will will end up taking my own life and blame the tory party for assisting me.

  14. idontwantaname – I am so sorry for your plight. I empathise with your situation. I only wish more people like yourself would come forward to post their story so it could build some sympathy within the voting community. I hope you get a chance to read this before you do something silly. I know it’s hard but try to stay strong. As the devastation really begins to show in the coming weeks, both with the benefit reforms and those to the NHS, people might start coming around and begin to become allies rather than persecutors.

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