Watch Out Surrey, Here Come The Benefit Claimants!

flat-surreyThe Home Counties could soon be swamped by tens of thousands of families fleeing London due to this months benefit changes.   With almost every London borough set to become unaffordable for families on benefits, many people will be sensibly looking to the surrounding areas to escape imminent homelessness.

The cap begins this months in Croydon, Bromley, Enfield and Haringey, meaning Surrey and Kent in the south and Hertfordshire and Essex in the north of London could be first to take the hit.  Luckily the leafy home counties still have some reasonably priced  accommodation for those on benefits who wish to remain within commuting distance of friends and family in London.

Take a look at this delightful 2 bedroom house in Mertsham, the perfect starter home for a young single mum looking to start a large family.   Two single claimants wishing to escape London’s housing benefit caps could try this cottage – unsuitable for children due to ongoing renovations nearby – but ideal for a group of young unemployed friends who like the country air.

In reality Surrey residents should not be overly concerned about the upcoming influx.  Far from the lurid tabloid portrayals, the vast majority of claimants are thoroughly decent people.  Statistics show that those on sickness benefits are no more likely to commit crime than any other sector of the population.

Whilst claimants are no more likely to commit crime than anyone else, they are often high users of public services and so can be expensive.  Despite this Government’s lies, many people on sickness and disability benefits are subject to the Benefit Cap and will need to leave the capital.  GPs and hospitals across the South East are likely to see a surge in demand as a result.  Some large families leaving London may not speak English as a first language, but Surrey’s excellent schools system should soon help clear that up.

The first mass influx will begin over the next few months as an estimated 40,000 families affected by the Benefit Cap will be forced to seek housing outside the capital.  This is only likely to be the beginning however as soaring rents and shrinking benefits could mean soon almost all private sector tenants on benefits will be priced out of the capital.  Hundreds of thousands of claimants could soon be making a move to Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Berkshire and Kent over the next few years.

Boris has been only too aware of the impact of the radical changes to Housing Benefits.  Back in July 2010 he wrote to Iain Duncan Smith (tif file, spotted by @AnitaBellows12)  about the likely impact of the unprecedented cuts.  According to the Mayor, quarter of a million Londoners could be affected by the changes with many moving to ‘fringe’ areas of the capital.  Since he wrote that letter the situation has become far worse, with the emergence of the Benefit Uprating Bill which will cap annual Housing Benefit rises at 1%. London rents rose by 7.9% over the last year.

Boris has spotted it will not just be poor inner Londoners affected but those in the leafy commuter belt, where some people actually voted for the clown.

And Tory voters in the Home Counties will only have themselves to blame as public services are overwhelmed and unemployment is exported out of the capital straight into their backyards.  So desperate have they been to punish London’s poor with the badly thought out Benefit Cap, they have cut off their noses to spite their already chinless faces.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

135 responses to “Watch Out Surrey, Here Come The Benefit Claimants!

  1. So, it’s looking like the early stages of the Hunger Games then… force the people out of one area into another to start with to keep only those they deem desirable are left, then start to expand the area of effect till they have us all penned up in the areas they want us to be in…

    Well that’s what it’s looking like in any case. And just wait till they expand the “Under Occupancy Charge” to those who own or rent without benefits.

    • There are going to be mass evictions as the deformed benefits system forces people out of not only private rents but social housing.

      The question now to politicians should be where are the dispossessed people to go?

    • paul…upstairs..downstairs…servants living crammed in cellars…voters driven out of town…corralled…i acre people barns….herded and driven like animals…put where ever is decreed by the rulers…bio-tech feeding the world…amplified by agenda 21…

    • Interestingly, I had to deal with a panicked call from my Mum in Australia as the way it has been reported over there led her to believe that the “Bedroom Tax” was to be applied to ALL households. That even homeowners would be assessed & charged for having “spare” rooms (no such thing in this country for the average person – we have tiny bloody houses here, all room is used, none is spare).

      • It’s interesting this kind of news/information has travelled so far – at least it’s been/being reported – even if getting a bit lost in translation. Australia not so long ago seemed almost completely removed from Europe/large parts of the rest of the world (excepting NZ/SE Asia) – & to some extent felt like being in a (political/cultural) bubble (sort of) – or could sometimes. (Major events in London (eg. a bomb blast) were the only few times I can remember hearing much about what was occurring over here in general (other than sporting events and unless from friends/family) – but this is going back nearly 20 years (now suddenly feeling tired & elderly). Maybe it’s very different compared to in the just-pre–internet times.

        Just recently been talking about bedroom tax/benefit cuts etc. with a friend who has family living there & they were surprised to hear about food stamp/pre-paid card policies which have come in to force in some places – this hadn’t been mentioned by their family member & we were wondering how much it’s apparent/being reported generally within the country, as it clearly has to be affecting (some) Australians in a fairly major way. If it’s not something with even a vague personal relevance it’s not always a conversation that people might have if they phone/write home, or even when with friends/out socially – for various reasons (like here). I remember Australia feeling like a giant island (it is?) and sometimes like countries within a country – & eg. Sydney/Melbourne’s outer suburbs, feel a world away from city centre living – similar to in this country & others.

        • welfare cuts are a global issue…right now

          • They are. But just wondering if some of the people affected in some of the countries maybe outside of Europe (as yet) still haven’t much understanding or even have read much about how widespread the same issues are. And what proportion of the people less affected don’t realise it at a local level, let alone at in any wider sense …

            (answers on postcards).

          • welfare cuts aren’t a global issue, because most of the world is too poor to afford benefits. UK is just joining the majority of the world. Most of the world would be happy with half of what UK people on benefits get. The fact is that the UK can no longer afford such generous benefits. Most people on benefits should have saved money when they worked in order to cover periods when they aren’t in work. Even people in very poor countries do this. People earning less than UK people on benefits get still manage to save. UK has a really messed-up benefits culture that needs to change. Those that need help should be help, but many need to take more responsibility for themselves. I’ve seen people that earned large amounts of money just waste it, and then end up on benefits. Well-paid people should be able to take care of themselves.

            • @dave then you get this chancellor chappie who dumps this austerity stuff on us, blaming the ‘feckless idle’ was that the feckless idle that was in work or the other lot.

            • dave…and now there is even less chance that the “poor”..nations will get benefits…as for the rest of your statement i refer to all of the previous answers on these manifold collective blogs….

            • chewie ..coat..if only i’d saved me cash…and didn’t ruin my health by slogging to stay alive….or did you say goat…! life is dun in dyslexic wonderland…

            • chewie told you before demented starts with a “d” and ends with “ed”….and…..

            • @Dave – You’ve obviously given this a lot of thought – but would “most of the world” really be “happy” with half of someone in the UK’s out-of-work-benefits-income to live over a medium/long term and All Things Being Equal. (ie. they lived in UKPlc and had to make the amount stretch across a fortnight) not just for a few weeks?.

              There are some people who go to work, get paid every month, don’t take tea at the Ritz or fly to Vegas for their holidays and … this is going to sound bizarre – don’t have any left over disposable income at the end of week 3 to put into a savings account (let’s just not mention the week before pay day). I know it can be hard to comprehend (it is for the people in those occupations too – it’s an occupational hazard). Who would have thought that a 35 hour- week could pay only just enough to cover going to and from work with nothing left over to save up for a rainy day? (They never tell you this at school; it’s not what most of us ‘aspire’ to).

              We’ve probably all seen people that earned large amounts of money just “waste” it too (although I try not to watch them too closely). This won’t be a typical scenario for why people usually “end up” on benefits, though. Things are relative and people aren’t (generally) robotic or Vulcan – it’s fairly reflexive to look for some form of reward at the end of a working week/month (even if the reward is an inexpensive bottle of wine/piece of chocolate cake/trip to the cinema). Sometimes, these imprudent types, after working for several weeks/months do think “Sod it, I’ll have a week/end away/go to see family/friends/buy something new for myself/house/children” – or it’s Easter/Christmas/someone’s birthday/school trip/uniform monies needed.

              – when, of course, they could have put that money into a high interest savings account … These decisions don’t make them ‘bad people’ and they probably budget as much as, if not more than, those who are on higher incomes.

            • Dave, change the effin record. The National Savings system was set up in 1860s Britain in order for the poor to save for a rainy day. A worthy attempt that completely ignored, as you seem to, the fact that many people don’t earn enough to save, they don’t even earn enough to pay their way, even when in full-time work, which is why they’re claiming Working Tax Credits, Housing Benefit etc..

              The UK is more than able to afford the cost of the welfare system, enough money is generated here, it just gets purloined and stashed away in tax havens, or goes to those who are already extremely wealthy.

              The claim that the UK cannot afford the welfare system is a huge LIE. As Josef Goebbels claimed, if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes a truth.

              By repeating the kind of tosh you’ve just come out with you are obviously merely regurgitating something you’ve read in the Mirror/Sun/Express/Telegraph, or heard it from an equally well informed mate down the pub. If you have a brain, please engage it before opening a) your mouth, and b) before putting fingers to keyboard.

      • oh this does make me smile ‘EVEN’ homeowners would have to pay ….. its fine for council scum but god forbid it affect homeowners ? .. please

  2. Here is another way the Government cut Housing Benefits
    If your Minimum Wage working son or daughter moves back home because they can NO LONGER AFFORD to live in their own rented House/Flat and move back home and YOU ARE in receipt of Benefit as you are sick/disabled YOUR Child(ren) will eventually be liable to pay ALL YOUR RENT as your Housing Benefit + Council Tax entitlement is reduced.

    Councils DO NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT that non Dependants will have other things to pay for….. possibly Rent/Council Tax Arrears from last property, their own bills (mobile phone ect) then cost of getting to work possibly costing more as they may have to travel further to get there.

    How do I know this… has happened to me I am Disabled & am now only entitled to £20.00 p/m H/B and my daughter pays the rest of the rent. I have been advised by local Housing that the Cap that was put in place regarding what a Non Dependant pays every month has BEEN REMOVED which means that next Year if my daughter is still living with me She could in theory by paying ALL THE RENT

  3. I think you’re missing a point here, Johnny. Neither of the properties for rent that you have mentioned here would accept unemployed people on housing benefit…they are for “professionals” or “retired couples”! It’s practically impossible now for anyone on LHA (HB) to be able to rent a home, without being charged a shedload of money for credit checking a home-owning guarantor!

    • This is a big problem, although generally it’s been less of a problem outside London where demand for properties is lower. Landlords could do quite well out of the changes as an influx of people into low demand areas helps drive up rents. As Paul says above this could result in a gradual cleansing as rent rises spread from Central London into the Home Counties and then beyond, meaning people are constantly forced further and further out of the city – on a lesser scale this could also start to happen in other cities.

      One barely mentioned aspect of the Housing Benefit cap is that there is such is the gap in prices it was set far below rents in London but a lot higher than rents elsewhere. As claimants (and those on low incomes) are forced out of the cities rents could start to rise towards the level of the caps everywhere else, meaning a bigger housing benefit bill and higher rents for everyone.

      • It’s a wheeze – Lady Shirley Porter (yuck!) tried to do this gerrymandering trick on the sly. As I recall she never paid all the surcharge & even had the temerity to claim she was skint.
        Expect ghetto/rookeries in some of our more dilapidated seaside towns are on the current agenda. When we are in any way reliant on Bojo to save us it’s a Snafu x 10 !!
        I’ve discovered that I have resident rights in Germany through a parent. Auf wiedersehen Alles.

  4. Stevenage, Harlow, Bracknell, Crawley, Leighton Buzzard, Hemel Hempstead and Welwyn Garden are likely to be the Ghettos of the poor in future.
    How many Labour voters do you know with buy to let properties and how many Labour voters do you know who work four local authorities or Housing associations? Gerrymandering at its utmost.

  5. Caroline Flint MP on BBCQT wants to have regional benefits cap, gifting to the IDS camp the principle of an outside London lower rated cap, pretty dumb politicking.

  6. Fauré's Requiem

    Harsh measures for the poor, disadvantaged and disabled.
    Tax breaks and luxury for the wealthy.
    Sooner or later…….

  7. @JohnnyVOID i was on a blog (twickerati) and the subject of social housing came up in connection with twickenham station redevelopment (a scam to plonk 8 story high ‘luxury’ apartments atop the station) anyways, ‘social housing ‘ was mentioned by myself, later i saw i got the big ‘thumbs down’..seems that some twickers residents think that social housing means ‘socialist’ housing filled with feral kids, booze, drugs , crime etc and all this disgracefulness would affect their precious property value, poor things.however i did acceptance from much more considerant folk who reside there, but its true to say nimbyism really exist.

    (eg. the post war ‘bromley wall’) posh residents actually had a wall built to keep out the common riff raff )

  8. I think that the people in the leafy suburbs can stop worrying about an influx of renters on benefits as even in poor areas it is difficult to rent a privately owned house if you are on benefits, most landlords won’t rent to them, expressing “must be working” as part of the necessary criteria and that is what will happen here too. This whole scheme is a farce that cannot work unless it fails and the sooner it is scrapped the better. It is discrimination at it’s worst and is disgraceful

  9. the only private rents you are accepted for if on benefits are from slum landlords at inflated prices …. it looks like this government want policy`s similar to 1930s Germany and we will end up with ghettos similar to Warsaw

  10. Good stuff as ever Johnny, thank you.

    May I draw your attention to a new wheeze dreamt up by the “nudge” unit?

    Take a look at skwalker1964.wordpress who has uncovered a psychometric questionnaire which advisers are now forcing the unemployed to take, on pain of sanctions etc. It’s on Mike Sivier’s voxpolitical blog too.
    It involves the most facile and ridiculous set of questions, barely worthy of GCSE psychology, which are aimed, allegedly, at discovering your “strengths” which you can then be mandated to build on by a series of orders from your obergruppenadviser.
    I have done this thing 3 times (there’s a link provided on the blog) and made up the answers differently each time, and all 3 times I got the same results.

    There is an accompanying powerpoint presentation which has pictures of bailiffs and courts, presumably to encourage the correct thinking and to illustrate what happens if you don’t do what you are told.
    This has been trialled already, according to Steve Walker, and is to be rolled out nationwide.

    Would you take a look, Johnny, and do something here with it? I think your blog reaches a wider audience than the others.

    • thanks have seen that, I do think the nudge unit deserves some scrutiny, although not because they are evil secret mind controllers but because they seem to be an inept bunch of clowns. will keep an eye on it, there’s now a video up showing the presentation:

      • They’re evil and inept. It’s no secret that behavioural economics (and various crazy offshoots of it) have formed the basis of much government policy. The bedroom tax, for example, relies heavily on a projected behavioural change and incentivising certain responses. Problem is that, because it’s all untested psychology bullshit, they actually have no idea what the behavioural response will be (DWP admit as much in their impact assessment) and it relies very precariously on tenants not rebelling. Same with the benefit cap and IDS’s lies about it already having ‘encouraged’ people to find work (before it had even been introduced no less!). So, ‘nudge’ theory, (or ‘hit them hard enough with a stick and they’ll do what we want’ theory) shouldn’t be glossed over, it is the poison at the core of current tory ideology.

    • ephiemerid… tis a massive issue…and an extreme ramping up of what “they”.. already are doing…pat…mentions this a few pages back….ugly dreadful mind games…shame on the DWP….for what they do now and for what they plan for the future…and for what they have already done….

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  12. I think the reality is that many landlords will drop their rents to below the new cap. If 40,000 families leave London, then those empty properties have to be rented. Also, some London rents have been falling over the last 2 years, and removing 40,000 families will further suppress demand. That should mean even low rents, meaning more people won’t have to move. Another point not mentioned is that of those 40,000, quite a few should be able to find work. Many are only on benefits between jobs, so once they’re back in work they will pay their own rents. Lots of landlords will just end up with less rent.

    • @dave a sun reader writes ” its them poor wot ar overbreedin’ that ruining this country” my boss who lives in the cayman islands says so. he moved there so he could be with that he cherishes the most.

    • Is there a rail/bus service in place that can accommodate 40,000 families trying to leave London – even if they stagger themselves? They will never all get seats.

      On a heavier note -back to reality, “..only on benefits between jobs” contains a kernel of truth but it’s far from being a known known that being “on benefits ‘only’ between jobs” at present (all things considered) will realistically mean a return to sustainable, economic employment in the short/medium term/or the very far-distant future for very many of these same people, – for the various reasons already mentioned, here and in (some) other places.

      • @shirleynott they will be arranging trains with cattle trucks..claimants will become part of the new govt policy on energy…AUSVITCH-GEN.PLC

        • ~ bob – I know what you mean. It feels disquieting writing about large numbers of people leaving cities on trains in some sort of forced eviction/removal process – why is that? At least we still have 2nd class carriages – thank goodness (and that nice man that comes round with his trolley). Tea for four only costs around £10, now I think.

          It can be a problem trying to get out of the capital when there’s just one/a few people travelling together sometimes … isn’t it always already massively overcrowded with just the people who travel up & down every day – how is this going to work? One family a week for the next 4,000 weeks … It’ll have to be Megabus I suppose. Not everyone has their own car/donkey when being forced to leave their home town and move towards a new ‘home’/job …

          • @shirleynott i am trying to relocate to the other side of london,,in fact an area known to be a bit posh,,and already online ive had nimbyist grumble about not wanting scruffs in their posh back yard..what happens then? caught between eviction and ‘not wanted here..

            • There might be a new version of ‘Relocation; Relocation’ coming soon. Reality tv-style. Someone at C4 must be working on it. It’s won’t have much humour in it – only black humour. I wonder if anyone is doing any documentary-filming of people leaving their homes with their worldly-goods/children, trying to get to somewhere affordable …

  13. “…claimants are no more likely to commit crime than anyone else…”

    Unless their benefits have been sanctioned for up to 3 years, then shoplifting begins to look rather attractive as starvation starts to kick in…

  14. “The truth behind ‘sanctioning’ the jobless”

    An interesting article from yesterday’s Morning Star.

  15. The truth about sanctioning the jobless – an interesting post on Ipswich Unemployment Action…

  16. so they get all the riff-raff out of london… there enough tenants in london to fill all those newly emptied houses

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  18. @JOHNNY VOID found this on LIBCONS website thought it was right up your street this::

    “yeah, right on sister! Heaven forfend that people have to move to Croydon, Nottingham or Hull because they don’t earn enough to live in the expensive shit hole that is central London. The horror. What seems to have escaped all the wailing socialists is that the kids will be better off living near a bit of countryside but….back to whinging again, eh?””



      And the idiots seem to forget that the job situation in Hull is dire. Yes, the rents are cheaper, but there’s a reason for that; there are about 50 unemployed people per job vacancy. That figure rises to about 70 if you include other factors such as underemployment etc.

      How is adding thousands of families to Hull going to do any good? So short-sighted.

    • Alarm bells go off whenever anyone starts being very definite by saying “Heaven forfend!” – I seem to think it used to be an expression favoured by John Major – you don’t hear it very often (in real life).

  19. Reblogged this on The Greater Fool and commented:
    And here we see the point of the policy, to expunge London of Labour voters

    • @JOHNN V..did you catch this from last year???

      Affordable housing in the Chancellor’s back yard

      When the Chancellor opened a new housing development in his Cheshire constituency, Peaks & Plains Housing Trust spotted an opportunity to make the case for investment in social housing.

      “When another letter from the local MP lands on my desk, my eyes light up. Am I alone among my peers in having this reaction?
      Well maybe, because our local MP happens to be George Osborne and his letter gives me another opportunity in my reply to make the case for social housing and to quantify the problem, by way of explaining why we’ve been unable to re-house his correspondent. In the housing sector, it’s often asked whether Government “gets” the housing problem. The sheer volume of this correspondence makes it difficult for him not to “get it”.

      The Chancellor’s constituency, which includes places like Alderley Edge, Knutsford and Wilmslow, has some of the highest house prices outside London. It means home ownership is beyond the reach of many, even those on reasonable incomes. Many of our tenants wouldn’t be social tenants elsewhere.

      We recently completed our first new homes in the Chancellor’s constituency, and we invited him to view them and discuss with us two key issues: the continued need for subsidy and some myth-busting about the profile of social housing tenants in his constituency.

      We discussed the fact that unlike the media caricature of social housing tenants, many of ours had stories resonating much louder with Conservative philosophy. Take for instance the tenant who’s business collapsed due to the recession – taking their home with it, or another recent letting to someone keeping down three low-paid jobs to keep his family together, but still unable to afford his private rented flat and needing an affordable alternative. Mr Osborne listened patiently, seemingly willing to hear about social housing’s invaluable contribution within his constituency.

      Stereotypes about benefit scroungers and the non-deserving poor aren’t just peddled by the media, but by some of his constituents too. We face enormous vitriolic opposition to many of our attempts to develop rural affordable housing with prospective tenants referred to in the most offensive terms. We point out that we cater for people born and bred in the village, engaged in low-paid jobs that help keep the village alive”

  20. as if CROYDON IS NEAR A BIT OF COUNTRYSIDE..fuckwit has never been there..


  22. Labour plans student-style ‘salary loans’ for the unemployed
    Radical proposal would entitle jobless to receive up to 70% of their previous income, then repay the extra on returning to work

  23. As Bromley is “the fringes of the Capital” and as Bromley has elected to be at the forefront of the HB changes, it is frequently assumed within the borough because its Councillors wished to be at the head of the queue when it came to “being able to displace problem cases somewhere else” I think even the most blinkered and stupid of Boris advisers would realise that once having dealt with their own problem and exported it, well they aren’t then going to be welcoming in “problem cases exported by the central London boroughs into the outer boroughs, now are they?”.

  24. has long as they don’t move the dirty Londoners up north they can shove them where they like

  25. Just how far out do the upper class expect their servants to live, although the unemployed are not their servants are they? it is people with mortgages to pay that are having favourable treatment in terms of quantative easing and employment ( even if it is skivvying for the rich).

  26. There used to be a time when people stood up for others even though they were not in that situation themselves, now it’s a case of fcuk you Jack I’m alright. Thatcherism has bred selfishness and that is why we are not seeing mass demonstrations.

  27. Landless Peasant

    In my city there are already some people living in tents, and this has been happening for last few years, not in ‘tent cities’ like in USA but tucked away in bushes next to busy dual-carriageways and supermarkets in the city-centre, and in woodland on the semi-rural outskirts. Occasionally they die, without anyone even knowing until their remains are accidentally discovered months later. Welcome to the Big Society.

  28. i have been hit with the bedroom tax i live in the south west, 3 weeks in i now o my housing association just under 45 pounds plus the council 10ner, i am trying to put aside what i can out of my jobseekers, but there is no hope! i live in a small village in a 2 bed housing association property( which the council awarded me because of my daughter) where i was born and went to school, i have joint custody of my daughter who now goes to school here. i can see myself falling in too dept pretty fast if i cant find employment soon as there are no fucking jobs. and there is no were for me to move locally only 20+ miles from where i live now….

  29. Landless Peasant

    I won’t be moving anywhere, as I have nowhere to go, and no money for removal costs/bond etc. though I may well be visiting more salubrious areas in order to beg and shoplift.

  30. It is not those that have extra bedrooms that have caused the housing shortage, just like it was not the unemployed that caused the banking crisis, but as usual it’s the poorest that are penalised, they see all of these austerity measures as a way to divide us, attacking one another for the scarce resources left available to us.

    There are plenty of luxury properties available, force them to reduce their rents and rent to those on the housing register. No-one is blaming them for the lack of land to build affordable housing on, something that is needed,especially as they were built as a tax fiddle, left to stand unoccupied or used as holiday/business let flats for rich foreigners.

    • @guy fawkes its utter bollocks govt supports ‘hard working’ families they just use them to stay in power, if the reall cared they wouldnt be flogging off NHS that hard working families paid for..

  31. Pingback: Unemployed Essex Residents Could Now Pay More In Council Tax Than Kensington Millionaires | the void

  32. Chewie

    All of these begging adverts for McMIllan nurses and children’s hospital charities is a ruse to accumulate a big enough pot to keep the NHS going while they privatize it. Those that are contributing to these causes do not realise they are contributing to the demise of the NHS, not shoring it up.

    Personally I don’t see the difference between paying into an insurance system run by the public i.e. NI contributions to fund the NHS, or pay for private insurance to run a health system. It is more or less run by those that put in private PFI money anyway, and there is only self regulatory complaints systems which do nothing – so I don’t care one way or the other, infact a private system could work in favour of those who are carted off to hospitals illegally if you don’t pay your insurance policy.

  33. Someone with an in-depth understanding of housing legislation in the area of supported housing is providing useful and interesting information. He has put forward information in support of the argument that tenants’ have the right to challenge (appeal in writing) all bedroom tax decisions – and might want to consider doing so as a first line of defence .

    An appeal is not first and foremost to get the decision overturned, it’s to challenge the veracity of each individual bedroom tax, in the first instance. It looks complex, but, if I’ve understood him even halfway, it’s a delaying tactic as well as a matter of principle – and will have more impact the more people that attempt it, and challenge local authorities. The basis for this is that they haven’t viewed the property themselves to verify the actual number of bedrooms before imposing the charge, and rightfully they are obliged to send someone to do this (as in the private sector) under current housing law. (see Joe Halewood, SPeye Blog).

  34. chewie

    They are not accountable now!

  35. Shirleynott

    I questioned my local council regarding bedroom tax and appeals or bedroom size etc.
    As far as the council and housing association are concerned you are charged for what is on your rent book – no need to verify or look at bedrooms again, I told them size should matter regarding bedrooms otherwise the private sector would have you sleeping in a broom cupboard if they could, they usually hang up at this stage.

    It is not councils that are charging rent, they just follow the orders from central government that has reduced housing benefit to be paid for those with extra bedrooms unless they are exempt.

    As atos are taking most of the sick out of the “care” category which has unfair stringent criteria, i.e. do not need a carer to stay overnight, most of the sick are not exempt from housing benefit withdrawal for any extra rooms even though they may sleep separate from a partner because of their illness and need an extra room.

    • @Guy, it would be a nightmare to challenge but supposedly they’re acting out of order until they send someone to independently confirm the number of rooms – they have just ‘assumed’ it’s right and applied the reduction. (But the onus should be theirs, not the tenants, to prove). There’s a template letter etc. on JH’s earlier recent blogs – but the whole process sounds q. complex (I’m not sure I’d feel confident to embark on it). He doesn’t claim it will get the benefit reinstated. Everyone is refusing to define ‘bedroom’ and they have to come and have a look, even if the number is on a tenancy agreement. There is the issue of size too (I think it does matter in this context) – he’s written about that as well:- if a box room then it can’t be considered a bedroom. I’m unclear about ft & ins.

      I keep mixing up council tax support and bedroom tax (one applies to me, the other doesn’t) – you’re right, it’s the councils following orders but apparently their approach is ?unlawful? in it’s application – a bit like some Atos assessments have been found to be (?). I’ve had a problem in trying to figure out how it’s possible to withhold payment where the money previously paid is already being withheld …. also a huge problem with rationalising that it’s being expected to come out of an already minimum income – and been ‘justified’ on the grounds the two are completely separate (but they impact on one another). It’s so clearly wrong.

      These 2 things and the sanctions threat (& Atos) are my main concerns (on moral grounds) – that’s it really, and (like lots of people probably) I know some people who have been hit by one and not the other (HB/BT), or if they’re really unlucky, by x2 bedroom tax as well as council ‘support’ tax. The choice between heating and eating is going to start to look like a walk in the park any minute now – it’s the way they’ve backed people into a corner that’s made me feel so angry, not to mention ashamed.

      • The idea with the appeals process is that if enough people do it, it will clog the system up. Think of the expense…….

        • @Nats, & difficulty is will enough people believe it’s worth doing (at the same time as needing all their brain-power and energy to try to deal with everything facing them that day & just keep on keeping on).
          Overall idea does sound good, but there’s paperwork/the perceived risk(?) involved and people need to have the confidence/energy at the same time as knowing they’re trying to complete the seemingly impossible challenge (of finding the money to pay)/not having enough food/bills piling up etc.)

          Argument for challenging in writing/appealing goes if/when councils find they’re losing more money than they’re meant to save due to costs involved in having to send someone to view every home/reply to everyone’s letters of appeal, they might ‘see sense’ & revert to paying full HB/lobby the government(?). It’s a not-easy to completely believe/imagine process – though it sounds feasible – it’s may be not clear-cut enough for many people to try it – alongside it being uncertain that they should challenge and how to word an initial letter & follow-ups etc. There is (allegedly) nothing to lose by appealing, but (some) councils might/have complicate(d) things by (wrongly) asking for a reduced amount in the meantime(?) JH blog is very good on this & gives (a lot) of information/template letters. He doesn’t advocate not paying or paying less than the full amount & the idea is to try to somehow pay it & start an appeal at the same time. If enough people ‘get’ this/trust the argument and somehow have the energy/chutzpah to do it, combined with groups who argue for keeping calm and staying put, then maybe …

          … It’s a less straightforward/clear-cut action to take than the ‘can’t pay; won’t pay’ was in Poll tax times, though.

  36. Shirleynott

    As you stated earlier asking the housing association (which I believe are the ones who define bedroom criteria), to come out and re-iterate what is on your tenancy agreement could be seen as you state delay tactics but it will not prevent you from being charged for the extra bedroom since the beginning of April.

    I personally have been hit by withdrawal of benefit from central government for under occupancy of 2 bedrooms and I have also been hit by local government who has deemed that I now have to pay council tax out of my benefit also, because council tax benefit has been reduced to councils by central government.

    That plus benefit caps of 1% inflation increase makes that a triple dip to go with the triple dip recession. Someone should dip osborne in boiling oil.

  37. ps why should you feel ashamed Shirley do you work for the government?

    • @guy fawkes oi ! you leave my mate shirley alone…there there shirley he didnt mean it..:)

      • @bob – I’m fine thanks. But please don’t send me any more links to the Kray’s/krankies (!)

        • @shirleynott sure i wont its just that you expressed an interest in boothby and i was trying to show you the level of corruption that was going on then,,as i say nothing changes..same stuff as then it seems..

          • @bob – thanks for that & I thought that the info. about Rachmaninov was interesting – we don’t seem to have made much progress (Cathy come home & etc.) – we are going right back. I hope 3-piece suits and hats for men don’t come back in, alongside all the tips on economising, thrift and how to make your own string advice that’s around.

    • @guy, No, don’t work for the government – ashamed of what’s being done in the country I’ve grown up in and feeling more and more disconnected from. Maybe ashamed is the wrong word – I’m not very patriotic. I think it’s a shameful situation.

  38. shirleynott

    thanks for clarifying that, your usually really good at expressing yourself.

  39. I have just had a letter from my rent officer on behalf of my housing association demanding i pay my rent arrears starting from 1/4/2013 i had letter from housing benefit stating my full rent had been paid up till 8/4/2013 so techincally i only owe 2 weeks rent yet my housing association is demanding 3 weeks rent so much for them being on our side. And why is it that they accept housing benefit to be paid a month in arrears but we are not allowed to pay in arrears.

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