THURROCK Conservatives have hit back at claims Government Housing Rent changes will cost a local family £150 per month.
Last week it was reported that an Ockendon family would lose £150 per month after the implementation of changes to housing benefits for social housing tenants.
Cllr Rob Gledhill, Thurrock Conservatives housing spokesman, said “The most anyone in Council housing with one spare room will have to pay is around £70 per month. There will always be residents like Mrs Twinn who may need extra assistance, which is why the government has given Thurrock a grant of £354,000 to help families who have a particular need. The Labour run Council could boost this by a further £855,000 if it wishes to do so.
However, Labour seems to have forgetten to mention this when they are looking to grab the headlines. Conservative Councillors will continue to help Mrs Twinn with an application for discretionary housing assistance”.
Figures from Thurrock Council show that there are 1107 council properties and a further 165 housing association properties that are classed as under occupied by those on benefits. The Government’s recent welfare reforms now better align the rules for paying housing benefits to social housing tenants and those receiving housing benefits in private rented accommodation.
Councillor Gledhill added “Over 1 in 10 of the Councils tenants are receiving support from the taxpayer for rooms over and above their assessed need and that is just not right.
The Government has listened to concerns which is why pensioners, families of armed forces personnel and others groups are exempt from the changes. Labour are very adept at scaremongering by only giving residents half the story, but it isn’t fair that the tax payer keeps paying for surplus rooms when other families are stuck in overcrowded properties.
There are currently 105 one bed, 57 two bed, and 86 three bed properties empty. I would suggest that Labour put more resources into turning these properties around and prioritising them for those wanting to downsize. This would free up larger properties for those who truly need them and reduce the strain on the public purse.”
What a pity then that this article actually gives less than half the story.
Discretionary funds are just that – Discretionary. In an Appeal Court last year it was acknowledged that; since discretionary housing payments were unpredictable, paid out of a capped fund, and did not cover the full amount of the shortfall, or the full period of the tenancy, they were not adequate.
The Appeal Court also stated that benefits received apart from Housing Benefit were all intended to meet subsistence needs and it would be ‘wrong in principle’ to regard subsistence benefits as notionally available to meet the shortfall in housing costs.
Also any Council or Housing Benefit Department or Landlord who is implementing this ‘Tax” (or “Charge” if you prefer,) against any Disabled Tenant without making a “Reasonable adjustment for their Disability” is BREAKING THE LAW. It is contrary to the Disability Discrimination Act, the Equalities Act and both the UN and European Human Rights Acts. It is not reasonable to decide if someone is suitable housed based ‘solely’ on the number of rooms they may have. You would always have to look at whether they may NEED that room. But that is only a small part of what is relevant in addressing the requirements and needs of a disabled tenant.
This iniquitous Bedroom tax on Social Housing tenants is NOT the same as in the Private renting sector. Those renting privately do not pay absurd percentages of their rent for any “so called” spare room. They only pay the difference between the locally accepted amount for their circumstances and what their rent actually is.
I’d like to ask one question, from a purely non-political and personal point of view. The whole basis of the ‘bedroom tax’ is on a person’s or family’s “assessed need” regarding living space but aren’t the only people who can make such a determination, the people being assessed? It is, after all, those people who know what their living space needs are and that may be having a ‘spare’ bedroom to use as a haven from the rest of their family or, as in my case, an office in which to work and store sometimes confidential paperwork related to their voluntary work. None of that would be considered by people assessing other’s living space requirements.
The criteria have been set by the Government and the legislation passed onto local authorities. Irrespective of a households actual bedroom needs the following criteria are applied:-
You are allowed one bedroom for each:-
Single adult – including a boarder or lodger
Foster child – subject to certain conditions (this change was announced 12 March)
Child of yours, but
Two children of yours under 10 will be expected to share a room and
Two children of yours under 16 of the same sex will be expected to share a room
A carer or carers from outside if someone in the household needs night-time care every night.
In a concession announced on 12 March approved foster parents will be allowed a room for a foster child if they are fostering a child, have fostered one in the last 12 months, or have been approved in the last 12 months.
Severely disabled children
Severely disabled children should be allowed a room of their own if their condition makes it unreasonable for another child to share with them. A Court of Appeal judgement on 15 May 2012 decided that to make such children share a room was indirect discrimination on grounds of disability. On 12 March 2013 the Government announced that it would not appeal against the decision so it is now the law and overrides the regulations on the under occupation penalty. The appeal was dropped six days after PM David Cameron told Parliament ‘people with severely disabled children are exempt’. They weren’t then. They can be now.
If a home has been adapted for a disabled person and there is a spare bedroom used for equipment or other purposes it will NOT be exempt. You will have to apply to the discretionary fund. The Gorry ruling only applies to disabled children. It does not apply to an adult couple who cannot share a room due to a disability. Though it could be used to argue for that. Other cases are pending.
If a couple separate but continue to live in the same home they will be counted as two separate adults – that will apply whether they were originally married or civil partnered or not. If they live in separate homes the parent who is the primary carer will get the bedroom allocation. If the parents genuinely share the care of the children then the one who gets the child benefit will get the allocation. If they have more than one child and they each get child benefit for at least one child it is possible they may each get a bedroom allocation for those children.
Grown up children
Once a child of the family reaches 16 he or she can have a room of their own. If they stay in education and normally live in the family home then their room will not be counted as spare. If they go away to study then their room will not be counted as spare for 52 weeks. But if the local council decides that the family home is not the student’s main residence and they will not return there then their room will be counted as spare.
Once they a child leaves education and looks for work or gets a job or claims jobseeker’s allowance then different rules apply. If they still live in the home an amount known as a non-dependant deduction will be taken off the housing benefit. That deduction is between £13.60 and £87.75 a week depending on their income.
If a room is left empty by someone on active military duty it will not be counted as spare and the non-dependant deduction will not apply when they are not living there. This concession was announced on 12 March 2013.
Normally if a room is left empty it will count as a spare room after 13 weeks. However, if someone dies and that leaves the home with a ‘spare’ room it will not be counted as spare until 12 months after the date of death.
Myles, in a non-political way, I’m sure everyone would love to have 1, 2, or 3 spare rooms. I’m sure people with spare rooms find a use for them. But the point is, in the real world, most of us only have what we can afford. I can’t afford a spare room to use as an office, or have my sister to stay, on my salary. Why should my taxes pay for people on benefits to have that?
“… those people who know what their living space needs are and that may be having a ‘spare’ bedroom to use as a haven from the rest of their family or, as in my case, an office in which to work and store sometimes confidential paperwork related to their voluntary work”
That’s hardly a significant reason to take into consideration when deciding whether the empty room is needed or not. Especially when someone (eg taxpayers) are subsidising it.
nice one gmhw, very educational.
Ed thanks for pointing out that this government have little thought for those with disabilities and their needs to take away benefi from one so obviously needing support proves their arrogance to hit the needy where it hurts, whilst they allow the ‘fat cats’ to beneift. DISGRACEFUL
As for the comments of Descamisados and Bernard87 typical responses from these posters, what is typical for you may not be for others, we all have different needs and this should be appropriated in the thought processes when investigating the reasons for the need. Not a ‘cull’ on all under populated properties, a bit harsh in my mind, before commenting put yourself in these peoples positions and see why they have needs.
Taking 5p off the higher rate of tax has certainly helped the needy! I don’t think.
So you two unless you are minted, you are no better off than any of us, but you just like to spout your political aspirations, not that you shouldn’t have an opinion, but it does get a bit old hat.
Cameron and Osbourne silver spoonTory buffoons.
Certainly not minted, and indeed I appear to be worse off that some on benefits – after all, nobody pays me money for a spare room.
Thank you very much Big Noise for your nice comment about my “educational” Post.
I keep trying to educate those who only read the Tory propaganda. There are going to be many more challenges in Court particularly on Disability issues. (Probably including mine.)
My Rent is £82 pound a week for a small 2 bedroom property. It was the smallest, cheapest property possible that suited my various and numerous disabilities, and was allocated to me by the Local Council. It still is the smallest cheapest property in the area. If I move to a one bedroom property even with the same Social Landlord it will cost between £84 and £94. Almost all of these would be completely unsuitable for me anyway.
But, the really comical point is that if I have to move away from my Support Network, I would NEED a 2 bedroom property because a Carer would be required ALL the time rather than just frequently as it is now. I have paid Carers from an Agency during the day via Social Services. I also have friends, neighbours and family who check on me regularly every day. So, if I were to move the Rent would be MORE and Social Services costs will be massively INCREASED.
Does anyone really think this scenario will benefit the Countries Monetary Deficit?
I can see both sides of this issue and I agree that the cases should be dealt with on an individual basis rather than a wholesale cull, but we do need to look at the whole picture where families are housed in hostels or cramped in too small accommodation whilst others are living in large properties with extra rooms.
Council tenants do not have a divine right to their property, it is social housing that is paid for by the local authority via the tax payer, they are not home owners in the true sense of the word and can be moved to alternative accommodation.
The concept of the “bedroom tax” is a good one but maybe it has been badly thought out on the implementation.
Having looked at the level of council rents, market rents and the local housing allowance for Thurrock, the one thing that is clear that it makes no financial sense to move people on benefits from council housing stock to private rented properties because they may be under occupying a property. It is far more costly than to leave someone in the property they are in and wait for something to become available. The trouble being this is going to be a number of years becasue the properties need to be built first.
Labour run authorities will do nothing regarding building properties becasue their position is why should they help out a Tory government by doing the things that Tory government have given them the financial ability to do. How very caring.
I really do wish that the socialists would stop making the pious claim to be the only people that care about people. It is the socialist town halls that won’t build houses, thus won’t employ people, won’t help get the economy going again and thus get people off benefits. They’re far too busy playing politicals games, as they are doing with this particular piece of legislation which they originally introduced for those in the private rented sector.
Milibrain and Co. are in it for themselves as much as any Tory MP. Thier dropping of the defence of their mass immigration policy shouuld make that abundantly clear to all the socialists out there.
It’s almost guaranteed that nothing will change even if they win the election in 2015. They’ve spent 5 years attacking the banks and blaming them for the ills of this country. 2015 is going to be payback time.
Descamisados – If you have a spare room, perhaps you should move to a smaller property.
If Descamisados is paying himself, he can have as many bedrooms as he likes. That is the point at the end of the day.
Apologies for the bad grammar in my last post. I meant to say, if Descamisados is funding his property himself, he can have as many bedrooms as he likes.
Gray64, is spot in, except for the fact I am a “she”!
Myles, I can’t afford a spare room, I busy subsidising other people’s.
Descamisados, my humble apologies!
gray64 – In a country (or world) that is over populated such as that in which we are living, NO-ONE has the right to have a property larger than they actually need, regardless of whether they have the money or not. The Bedroom Tax is aimed solely at those on Housing Benefit which is discriminatory. Either everyone should be charged for ‘spare’ rooms or no-one should. And assessment of a person’s or family’s living space requirements should be based on individual circumstances with everything taken into account including the effect of a reduction in living space on the individual’s or family’s mental health.
Descamisados – Well, my dear, you don’t ‘subsidise’ my ‘spare’ room because I’m not on Housing Benefit even though my wife and I are within the threshold for being able to claim and we had our claim rejected.
Unlike a lot of people on here who moan about ‘subsidising’ people on benefits with their taxes, when I was in work and paying Income Tax I didn’t complain about those who were helped by my contributions. Yes, I didn’t like the few who abused the system and, like most people, always looked at how much money was deducted from my wages before I even saw a penny of what I earned and wasn’t happy at the amount that was taken; however, I always viewed the money taken in tax and NI to be part of the covenant I agreed to pay to be part of a civilised society, just another part of the unwritten but accepted social contract. I also looked at the payments with the view that there but for the grace of whatever runs the Universe go I; that, at some point, through no fault of my own, I may find myself in a position where I may be forced to approach society to help me in my hour of need as society’s side in the unwritten but accepted social contract dictates.
I’d also point out here that people do not actually pay Income Tax. It is money taken by the State before an individual even sees the money they have earned. Income Tax is the financial price of an individual’s duty to the civilised society in which they live, which is, in turn, part of the unwritten but accepted social contract by which we agree to abide as members of that society.
Welfare is a universal benefit. The social contract is a universal duty. The Bedroom Tax is a discriminatory policy that is targeting the poor and the vulnerable unless those who have ‘spare’ rooms who are not on benefits are not charged for those rooms as well. As I said in my reply to gray64 above – NO-ONE has the right to more living space than they deserve in an over populated country such as this.
The ‘Bedroom Tax’ is a reduction in eligible rent used in the calculation of someones Housing Benefit. For one bedroom the reduction is 14% for two spare bedrooms the reduction is 25%.
This only applies for those in social housing, those in private rented properties are already subject to size criteria in their local reference rents used to claulate their Hosuing Benefit entitlement.
Myles may think that every single household in the land should be charged for having spare rooms would never work and no political party would even contemplate such a move. It would be an administrative nightmare to monitor the occupants of every home in the land. Homeowners already pay more if they are living in bigger properties thorugh higher Council Tax.
Valen, I can’t agree with you, in fact I reject your argument totally. In this world, everybody should have the right to have whatever size residence thay can afford. If you earn a decent wage and decide you would like a five bedroom residence, and if you can afford it, you are free, and should be free, to buy one. Those who are living off the State, in other words, not living off their own income, cannot expect the same freedoms of choice. That’s the real world and that’s fair. What isn’t fair is to carry on expecting all of those actually in work and paying taxes to continually fund ever increasing spending on benefits. There are still a few ‘Socialist Utopia’s’ left in the world so I suppose you could always go and live in one of them but then I don’t suppose you would want to give up all of the benefits of living in a capitalist society, despite all the ‘unfairness’?
gray64 – Of course you don’t agree with me. You are probably one of the people who live in a massive house and greedily hog that massive space all for yourself. The problem with your argument is that there are too many low-paid jobs out there and the Minimum Wage isn’t high enough for everyone to be able to afford the size of home they need. Luckily for you, the Tories are hoping to freeze or cut the Minimum Wage so you’ll have plenty of people to look down on from your lovely ivory tower.
I’d also like to point out that I’m not a socialist so you can retract that portion of your argument. What I do have is a social conscience which is obviously something you and every other Tory have absolutely no conception about.
Myles, I happen to have a small three bedroom terrace house and my yearly wage is under the £26k cap for benefit claimants. I am also not a Tory. Judging by your posts I would definitely class you as a socialist, possibly a communist. I bet your voting patterns would describe you as such? I have had to make drastic reductions to my spending in recent times and every month finishes with zero in my bank account. I have nothing left to give and as for saving for a pension, forget it! I am sick to death of paying large chunks of my money in taxes and I truly believe that benefits have to be scaled back, right back. So you can carry on bemoaning the fate of folks on benefits, you’ll get no sympathy from me.
The question Cllr Gledhill should answer is would a Conservative controlled Thurrock Council increase the Discretionary Housing Payments fund by £855,000 to give extra help to those impacted by his Governments cuts?
That would rather undermine the point of the policy wouldn’t it. I’d suggest the following:
Increase rents on council tenants who are not in receipt of benefits (in order to bring them into line with Market rents – or somewhere near it)
Hold off on levying the charge across the board, however, put all people who would (as of today) be affected into a lottery. As and when suitable properties become available hold a public lottery (say monthly) whereby those who are randomly selected are forced to move into the newly available properties.
Change the rules so that any children a benefit recipient has subsequent to their applying for benefits, are disregarded with regards to tax credits, suitability of housing, etc.
gray64 – And how many people are living in that house? Do you have spare rooms?
Not that my voting history is anything to do with you but I’ve voted in three General Elections – The Referendum Party in the 90s, UKIP in the previous GE and Lib Dem in the last GE. The first two were protest votes and the last was a genuine attempt to vote in someone I thought might actually make a difference. So your theory that I’m a socialist or communist is so ridiculously wide of the mark that you must be a Tory sympathiser even if you’re not a Tory voter.
A lot of people have an income below the benefit cap and a lot of them are low-paid workers who require benefit to survive. They, too, have no chance to save or have any savings in the bank. So what’s your point?
You may believe that benefits have to be scaled back because you have bought into the Tory myth that everyone on benefits is a scrounger who gets hundreds or thousands of pounds a week and that makes you a gullible, ill-informed fool – just as bad as a Tory that you say you are not.
My family’s household income is less than £16,000 a year. 60% of my wife’s wages goes on rent and Council Tax, leaving very little for everything else. We were turned down for any financial assistance with rent or CT but we don’t bitch about the benefit bill because we know the truth about where the money goes. When you have researched the truth about the welfare bill, perhaps you’ll change your mind. Then again, you seem to be a very blinkered person who easily falls for propaganda so you probably won’t change your mind or even look up the true Government department statistics for yourself.