URGENT, URGENT – Bedroom Tax Tribunal hearings beginning 10/02/14…. you MUST act… campaigners MUST act…

DSCN5949If you have a Bedroom Tax Tribunal hearing this week, that is from Monday 10th February 2014, you MUST make sure you raise the Bolton Upper Tribunal (UT) case before the tribunal judge.
This is for three reasons:
  1. The Bolton UT issue adds to whatever reason you are appealing such as room size etc and doesn’t replace them or affect them and even if you are appealing that your one allegedly spare ‘bedroom’ is used by an overnight carer
  2. The second reason is the Tribunal has to consider the UT ruling at Bolton and in simple terms it has to consider whether any disputed rooms are in fact bedrooms or not and the Bolton case says they are bedrooms if they are used as a bedroom or furnished as a bedroom.  Conversely if they are not used as or furnished as bedrooms then the Bolton UT judgment says they are NOT bedrooms.
  3. Finally, by raising the issue at your Benefit Tribunal (First Tier Tribunal) it means the issue has to be considered and so if you lose on this and want to appeal to the Upper Tribunal, the Bolton UT argument must be raised before the First tier Tribunal.  If you do not raise it then you cannot use it for an appeal to the Upper Tribunal so make sure it is raised.
The Bolton UT judgment can be referenced as and stated to the tribunal judge to be Upper Tribunal decision 2014 UKUT 48 AAC.
To all activists and others opposed to the Bedroom Tax.
  • If you know where Bedroom Tax Tribunals are held in your area you may wish to make sure any tenant going into a Bedroom Tax Tribunal at 10am on Monday 10 February 2014 onwards knows the above and raises it before the tribunal. 
  • Not all tenants are online and many may not have seen the Bolton implications as expressed through the Monmouth Decision. 
  • In order for tenants with bedroom tax tribunals this week to get a fair crack of the whip they need to know about this.

We all know the Bedroom Tax is dead, we together, must make sure we bury it, that means we have to carry on campaigning, taking actions and encouraging others to do so! We will SMASH, AXE, BIN, STOP the Bedroom Tax!

  • TICK TOCK TICK TOCK- the Bedroom Tax Countdown has began…
  • Contact us – thereclaimgroup@aol.co.uk

 

Tick tock tick tock – the bedroom tax time bomb!

ReClaim, a local grassroots campaigning group who work nationally, has produced a bedroom tax toolkit which is here. It contains what we know works; simple one-page standard letters for the following:-

  1. The pre 1996 bedroom tax exemption letter that many  already using
  2. A standard letter to use for appealing your current bedroom tax decision on room usage and should be used for the 2014/15 bedroom tax decisions expected in March
  3. A standard letter to launch a Parliamentary Ombudsman complaint over the DWP’s maladministration with their bedroom tax cock up over the pre 1996 issue
  4. DHP standard letter when your local council seeks to errantly claim back the DHP you sold your soul and your dignity to receive – they have no authority to do this whatsoever.

It contains much more including who YOU can contact and lobby (see pages 8 and 9) to prevent IDS and the DWP changing the legislation without consultation or any debate – covering up their cock up and in such a despotic way.

IDS is planning to change the law without debate or consultation by laying a statutory instrument before parliament on March 3rd 2014 – just four weeks away

The toolkit also contains primary research data of the first 250 or so cases held by ReClaim (see page 2) over just who has had the bedroom tax imposed on them unlawfully:

  • Two thirds are women yet DWP is not planning any gender impact assessment
  • 87% are in receipt of DLA or ESA yet DWP is not planning any disability impact assessment
  • 1 in 6 are carers for family members yet IDS is not going to consult any carers…

…instead IDS is just going ahead in his stubborn and despotic way and will change the law without debate or consultation.  Unless of course we ALL make so much of a fuss that we make it politically untenable for IDS to do that and force a debate in Parliament and/or get this referred to the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC).  We should not have to rely on this being annulled after it is implemented

  • Do you want IDS or any politician to be able to change the law at will without any form of democratic oversight?
  • Do you care that 40,000 + households containing 100,000 men women and children, many of whom are disabled and long term sick will have to go without one meal a day just to keep a roof over their heads?

If you don’t care then do nothing and perhaps carry on believing that Benefit Street is reality.

However if you do care then we have a four week window to get all those opposed to the pernicious bedroom tax to lobby everyone they know; four weeks to make as much fuss as possible so as to get IDS and the DWP to behave in a democratic way.

Lobby your MP, your councillor, your union, your local and national womens and disability lobbies and all that you can.  A list is suggested and included in the toolkit on pages 8 and 9 but this is not inclusive.  Contact as many people as you can.

This is much more than just whether you agree with the bedroom tax pre 1996 exemption or not, this is about a politician being incompetent and unlawfully taking away £25m per year from women, the disabled and carers…and then covering up his incompetence by legislating without any debate after the fact to make this offensive incompetence lawful.

I’ll say that again IDS and the DWP have taken away £25m this year, at least, away from vulnerable people with the unlawful bedroom tax deductions on those that are exempt by law. 

ticktick boom

That is just a mere ‘loophole’ to DWP and it is a small number they claim.  It’s not a loophole and with those affected in error not being able to fit inside Wembley Stadium its not a small number either.  It is a monumental cock up.

Imagine if 40,000 mortgage payers had almost lost their homes due to a government cock up! That would be headline news in all the newspapers, the lead story on TV and radio broadcasts and blanket coverage right across the media.  Yet because this has only affected the social tenant the media is silent on the issue!

Joe Public sees all bedroom tax tenants as scroungers and workshy as that is how this government likes to portray them. Yet over one million people who are working have wages that low that they qualify and receive housing benefit.  It was only 650,000 in May 2010 and so that number has increased 60% since the coalition came to office.  That presumably is also a small number according to the DWP…and it is in comparison to the numbers having to use food banks.

How many times has Cameron said at PMQ’s that disabled people are exempt from the bedroom tax?  At least three times yet they are not exempt. Cameron is simply making it up as he goes along.

IDS and the Tories are legislating in this underhand way to make more disabled persons liable for the bedroom tax!  That is also a national scandal and outrage

The campaign toolkit details some actions that all can easily follow including on Friday 28 February and Saturday 1st March a call to lobby your local MP who tend to hold constituent surgeries on those days. And so much more. Saturday 5th April is a national day of protest in all regions over the bedroom tax and no doubt more will be publicised about this shortly

Yet there is so much more.  Reclaim will feature in a Channel 4 Dispatches programme on Monday 10th February all about the pre 1996 exempt issue or the £25m unlawful bedroom tax deductions IDS and DWP have already made from these vulnerable families.

We are aware of so many other activities going on by so many other grassroots groups and far too many to mention and please include these as comments and we will publicise in later versions of the campaign toolkit.  This toolkit is a living document that will expand and have further editions.  It is about what everyone can do and what we believe everyone should do.

Yet it is all about what we cannot allow IDS to do and some ideas on how we can stop this despot and zealot.

The slogans of enough is enough abound in the bedroom tax and have since day one.  Yet now with the unlawful imposition of the bedroom tax to 100,000 men women and children and a legally binding definition of ‘bedroom’ which DWP refused to make the bedroom tax is ripe for challenge, and that challenge is in your hands reader.

You can stop this government making more disabled and long-term sick people liable for the bedroom tax.  You can stop twice as many women as men being affected.  You can stop carers for family members losing the roof over their heads.

Many of the answers as to how are in the toolkit, many more will be added and many more campaigns and challenges to the bedroom tax will emerge and some from surprising quarters too and some from organisations that have to date sat on the fence or on the wrong side of it.

Time to be counted and time to stand up and do your bit to get rid of the bedroom tax and this toolkit gives some ideas on how.

If you have a campaign event or idea then please put in the comments below or email thereclaimgroup@aol.co.uk and we will gladly publicise and promote it.  All of the information and standard template letters are there for you to use freely and feel free to distribute widely.

If you think IDS should be allowed to change a law he has broken without any debate and without consultation and to spare his political blushes and impose that back on 100,000+ vulnerable men women and children then do nothing.

If you have read this far you will not want that to happen. If they were mortgage payers this outrageous state of affairs would not even be considered yet because this is the lowly and ‘small’ social tenant he thinks he can get away with it.  Let’s prove his wrong!

DSCN6045

ReClaim

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Bedroom Tax Pre-1996 Exemption- Yes, Yes, Yes, the Evidence from DWP- Get your Cash Back and Compo!

And also justice at long last for some!

(But we must continue to smash the Bedroom Tax we must, appeal, appeal, appeal!)

The ReClaim Team along with our tireless volunteer housing benefit expert and infamous bedroom tax blogger- Joe Halewood can announce we now have the evidence that some bedroom tax victims are now exempt from the much hated, unjust, politically driven, back of a fag packet policy, the Bedroom Tax. (see DWP Urgent Bulletin here). And Yes DWP made a massive error and while doing that issued bedroom tax guidance (A4/2012) that also did not direct councils to take account of this particular regulation, they all got it so wrong!

DWP & Councils got in Wrong! (in so many ways!)

And what did this getting it so wrong mean for us the tenants!

Well – many tenants have moved giving up lifelong family homes, which has caused huge distress, expense and caused degrading treatment against tenants human rights.

Some tenants have taken their own life’s (such as Stephanie Bottrill), or caused harm to themselves and many been admitted to hospital for mental health distress, would Stephanie have been exempt?

While many others have been evicted and lost their life-long home, family and community support and possessions, the bedroom tax has destroyed communities, and left many emptied homes in its wake!

ReClaim believes that those tenants who should have been exempt due to this Pre-1996 issue should now claim compensation for the damage caused by DWP and local Councils. This process starts with letters of complaint to DWP and local Councils. (ReClaim will help you with this!)

Stop paying the Bedroom Tax Now! and get your Cash back by Easter!

If you have paid any of this vicious bedroom tax you will get all of your cash back! (eventually- lets set a date for repayment, lets give our Councils a deadline for a Easter 2014 and give ourselves a present!)

Stop paying the bedroom tax now, if you are exempt!

 ReClaim – don’t let a benefit decision change your life!

Since this news came to light just before Christmas 2013, the ReClaim team have been working to identify those tenants that are affected and have already identified countless tenants who have had to make decisions on whether to heat or eat’! And this is the UK in the 21st Century! What a disgrace!

ReClaim has also produced standard template letters to ask your local Council to review their Housing Benefit Decision made in March/April 2013. (see here).

We would also like to sincerely thank, the so-called HB Anorak- Peter Barker who just today produced an excellent document on the details of the exemption. (We will not go into the technicalities of the complex housing benefit regulations), (see link here).

On Monday this week 06/01/2014) one member of our team appeared on a local Radio call in show (BBC Radio Merseyside) to inform affected tenants and their families friends and neighbours of the Pre-1996 bedroom tax exemption, even the presenter Roger Philips intimated that Council would interpret this ‘oversight’ differently. He was made aware by ReClaim, that these regulations are ‘the Law’ there is no getting away from that. (Hear the Radio broadcast here, listen from 1.20.30-1.29.30)

ReClaim have received many, many phone calls and sent out many template letters and emails to ensure tenants have the tools to ask local Councils to re-consider their bedroom tax decisions.

From the information we have gathered so far, most of these tenants are aged over 55 years, most have an illness and/or disability, and a fewer number are carers for others. One of those that contacted us from the Wirral is due to appear in Court next week for possession of his home of over 40 years! Of course that will not happen now, with ReClaim’s help! Stop those evictions now!

So we at ReClaim can say with the evidence, yes more evidence, that the most vulnerable now hopefully ‘survivors’ of the bedroom tax should have been exempted from the bedroom tax from the very beginning in April 2013!

Most of these tenants also had absolutely no assistance from anyone regarding the imposition of the bedroom tax, had not been advised to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment, non-residential overnight carer or appeal the bedroom tax decision. If this exemption does not apply to you- make sure you have completed these three things, ReClaim can help!

This is somewhat surprising as all housing associations say they now have an in-house Welfare Benefit Team who is assisting tenants to deal with so-called ‘welfare reform’, but of course we call these ‘cuts’! Those HA’s are living in cloud cuckoo land, but we already knew that!

ReClaim only knows of one HA in the UK who is training tenants to learn how to appeal the bedroom tax decision, we will encourage and support many more to do just that.

Just this evening the ReClaim team attended a community meeting in the Page Moss (Knowsley) area of Merseyside, the leader Fred had heard about the Radio Show, out of 11 residents who attended, 3 were exempt due to DWP/ local Council oversight of the 2006 Housing Benefit Regulations, these are all Knowsley Housing Trust tenants. Knowsley Housing Trust has a particular reputation within the bedroom tax movement! (see press article here- Ring of Steel!).

The estimate of 4% of bedroom tax affected tenants in Exeter will be much greater in areas such as the North West of England.

ReClaim will continue to support and assist tenants to get this exemption and also support with any other bedroom tax issues. Also with support with JSA, ESA & DLA.

We are being attacked by this current Government and don’t expect much to change if Labour do win the election in 2015. Can any cuts be fairer? They are cuts after all!

The bedroom tax movement across the Uk is making a huge impact- we must continue in solidarity to bring this vicious tax down, it is an attack on us all, an attack on the social housing ethos and an attack on housing associations. It is time for us all to work together to ensure tenants can fight and win!

ReClaim can be contacted via our email thereclaimgroup@aol.co.uk or through our facebook group ReClaim.

We will be running training courses for housing associations for their tenants and Welfare Reform Teams. Please get in touch.

We also produce valuable information for tenants on a whole range of benefit issues. We will represent tenants at bedroom tax appeal tribunals, and other benefit tribunals.

We are in urgent need of donations to help us to keep helping others. Please send to our postal address of ReClaim, c/o 41 Jubilee Road, Crosby, Liverpool, L23 3BD.

Thanks from all at the ReClaim Team!

Pre- 1996 Issue- Bedroom Tax- DWP mess-up is also potentially maladministration by the DWP

 The DWP has messed up with the bedroom tax and specifically with the pre-1996 issue.

 Briefly, if:

 1)    You have been in continuous receipt of Housing Benefit (full or partial) since 1 January 1996 or before;

 AND

 2)    You have been in the same property since 1 January 1996

 Then you are exempt from having the bedroom tax imposed upon you. 

If this describes your situation then you need to put this in writing to your local council asking them to reconsider your case and stating if they do not you will appeal to the SEC tribunal over this.  A brief standard template letter is here along with the detail of this issue for your use.

However, this DWP mess-up is also potentially maladministration by the DWP and I maintain it is further evidence, as if it were needed, that the bedroom tax is a back of a fag packet policy rushed in without forethought to the consequences by the DWP.  I have made a reasoned estimate that 40,000 or so households could be affected by the bedroom tax being imposed in error and this equates to 100,000 or so men women and children.  That scale of error and the devastating consequences it has meant for families needs redress.

A complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman is called for and the details of that is here but essentially mean (a) You firstly complain directly to DWP and then, (b) write to your MP to have him or her have it referred to the independent Parliamentary Ombudsman.

It is being strongly suggested that the DWP is looking to retrospectively change the regulations which may mean you do NOT get back the bedroom tax you have been deducted in error and you are no longer exempt from the bedroom tax. 

We all need to act quickly on this to ensure that does not happen and if it attempted we need the full force of all MPs to seek redress for this.  Simply, if there are 40,000 or so cases as I estimate this is a case of a mass injustice and gives a much better chance of the correct remedy than individual complaints by individual tenants. If all your local MPs know of this issue the better chance of success this has of being found to be maladministration and the greater the pressure that can be put on the DWP to do the right thing.

Together with colleagues at my local anti bedroom tax group called Reclaim we ask that if you meet the two conditions above of being in continuous receipt of HB since before 1 January 1996 and have lived in your current property since that time then please email us on thereclaimgroup@aol.co.uk

 Please put PRE 1996 in the subject line and simply include your initials and your post code.  We will then alert your MP to this issue and have a much better idea of the numbers affected.  Reclaim cannot take on all cases for obvious reasons but we will keep everyone informed of developments. 

 If you do email Reclaim then you may wish to simple cut and paste the following:

 I maintain I have been in continuous receipt of housing benefit since 1 January 1996 and have lived at my current property in all that time.  I give my permission for Reclaim to notify my member of parliament on this issue and then contact me with any developments. 

 My initials are: ___________

 My post code is: ___________

 Any information sent will be kept in the strictest confidence and in full accordance with the Data Protection Act and its principles.

Thanks from all at the ReClaim TeamImage

 

 

There IS a minimum bedroom size – The Housing Act 2004

There ARE minimum room sizes in law for a bedroom and the HA2004 and statutory guidance on that blows the bedroom tax room size issue wide open. 

Frankly, who cares about whether the HA1985 Act on room size is applicable to just ‘overcrowding’ or not which is the current hot issue as that becomes a side show as the HA2004 deals not with ‘overcrowding’ but with ‘crowding and space’ and applies to under occupancy.

 “’Crowding and space’ is described in the HHSRS Operating Guidance as a hazard associated with lack of space within a dwelling for living, sleeping and normal family/household life.  The assessment is not just a measure of over-occupation by the existing household.”

If my interpretation of the HA2004 is correct and I have quietly been seeking opinion on it from many housing and environmental health professionals, lawyers and many others then:-

  • Any definition of ‘bedroom’ HAS to include a minimum room size component of at least 70.1 square feet
  • All the original and subsequent bedroom tax decisions are unlawful as they failed to consider the HA2004 Act and subsequent statutory guidance on room size
  • All bedroom tax decisions should be reviewed and/or appealed with immediate effect by the tenant
  • The DWPs most recent guidance to councils in the U7/2013 HB circular which says they can determine what a bedroom is in any way except measurement is and has to be unlawful as it cannot overrule HA2004
  • Every tenant with a purported bedroom of less than 70.1 square feet has a housing and health hazard in their property and has an absolute right to demand the local council come out and inspect the property for this and any other category 1 or category 2 hazard.

It cannot be right or acceptable in any way whatsoever that not only is the tenant subjected to a category 1 hazard under law but is being charged for that housing health and safety hazard with the bedroom tax!

Further in order to pay this unlawfully deducted amount the tenant is placing herself in fuel poverty and in doing so is making or enhancing other category 1 hazards such as the thermal comfort criteria by being unable to afford to heat the property.   Or if you pay the bedroom tax you can’t afford to heat your property.

Moreover, the opportunity cost of this is that other aspects of the public purse such as the NHS are incurring much higher costs and much greater impacts of health and housing due to the pernicious bedroom tax policy which make it irrational and a net cost let alone unlawfully imposed and the unlawful recent guidance imposed by the DWP in the U7/2013 HB circular.

Time to look at the argument and below is what the HA2004 says: –

Housing Act 2004 Part 1

4 Inspections by local housing authorities to see whether category 1 or 2 hazards exist

(1) If a local housing authority consider—

  • as a result of any matters of which they have become aware in carrying out their duty under section 3, or
  • for any other reason,

that it would be appropriate for any residential premises in their district to be inspected with a view to determining whether any category 1 or 2 hazard exists on those premises, the authority must arrange for such an inspection to be carried out.

(2) If an official complaint about the condition of any residential premises in the district of a local housing authority is made to the proper officer of the authority, and the circumstances complained of indicate— 

  • that any category 1 or category 2 hazard may exist on those premises, or
  • that an area in the district should be dealt with as a clearance area,

the proper officer must inspect the premises or area.

3) In this section “an official complaint” means a complaint in writing made by—

  • a justice of the peace having jurisdiction in any part of the district, or
  • the parish or community council for a parish or community within the district.

(4) An inspection of any premises under subsection (1) or (2)—

  • is to be carried out in accordance with regulations made by the appropriate national authority; and
  • is to extend to so much of the premises as the local housing authority or proper officer (as the case may be) consider appropriate in the circumstances having regard to any applicable provisions of the regulations.

5) Regulations under subsection (4) may in particular make provision about—

  • the manner in which, and the extent to which, premises are to be inspected under subsection (1) or (2), and
  • the manner in which the assessment of hazards is to be carried out.

 (6) Where an inspection under subsection (2) has been carried out and the proper officer of a local housing authority is of the opinion—

  • that a category 1 or 2 hazard exists on any residential premises in the authority’s district, or
  • that an area in their district should be dealt with as a clearance area,

the officer must, without delay, make a report in writing to the authority which sets out his opinion together with the facts of the case.

(7) The authority must consider any report made to them under subsection (6) as soon as possible.

Note: The HA2004 applies to England & Wales and in Scotland it is the HA2006

in lay terms (hopefully)

Part 1 section 4(1) means that if a tenant informs the Environmental Health department of the council that a category 1 hazard exists – and a ‘bedroom’ of less than 70 square feet is a category 1 hazard – then the council MUST go out an inspect the tenants property.

Note well the usual excuses from councils are (a) we do not have to go out and inspect and there is nothing in law to say we have to is an error in law and the HA2004 clearly says this and (b) the other excuse that minimum room sized only applies to ‘overcrowding’ is another error in law and in fact.

The minimum change here is that the council HAS to come out and inspect and that is a huge cost which the HA2004 allows the council to recharge to the landlord.  Cue social landlords going ape!

Part 1 section 4(4) means that this mandatory inspection must follow national guidance and that guidance is the LACORS 2009 guidance which includes the Metric Handbook which says at Appendix 5c that a minimum single bedroom has to be at least 6.5m2 or 70.1 square feet.

Part 4 (6) and (7) says that the Environmental Health Officer must inform the council (as a corporate body which includes the HB department who decide on the bedroom tax) immediately of any category 1 hazard such as minimum bedroom size; AND that the council in its corporate position MUST consider that report.

In simple terms the HB officer who made the bedroom tax decision to accept the word of the landlord that a room of less than 70 square feet is a bedroom is wrong in law and must change that decision and disapply the bedroom tax deduction.

Tenant next steps

The tenant should compose a letter to their local councils Environmental Health department stating the room sizes of all alleged bedrooms and demand that the council send out an EHO to inspect their property.  Once they have done this they should also copy that letter into their HB department stating they wish for the bedroom tax decision to be reviewed and if not the tenant will make this a formal appeal matter.

Tenants should include ALL bedroom sizes too as the Metric Handbook in Appendix 5c of the LACORS guidance on HA2004 says that in some circumstances a bedroom needs to be a minimum of 11 square metres or 118 square feet. However, that complicates the simple point that ALL rooms to be deemed a ‘bedroom’ have to be a minimum of 70 square feet and in usable floor space too.

Tenants and tenant groups and anti-bedroom tax groups should also note well that every tenant needs to write a letter of complaint to the Environmental Health department.  This is not for any direct action or other purposes; it is due to the wording of the Act.  Part 1 (4) states that it is ONLY if the council becomes aware of the  hazard that they must inspect hence this is conditional on the tenants local council knowing of the individual tenant’s room sizes.  Further it means the onus is on the tenant to inform the local council’s Environmental Health department.

I would also advise tenants to look for other potential category 1 and 2 hazards under the HHSRS to include within the letter to their council.  An accessible overview of these hazards should be on your social landlords website such as here supplied by Venture Housing.  So many aspects of a property MAY be a hazard but a bedroom of less than 70 square feet IS a hazard and is in law and guidance.  It was also most recently expressed in a Property Services Tribunal in Southwark and details are here and all would do well to read this very cogently argued tribunal decision.

The more potential hazards a tenant lists the greater the likelihood of an early inspection by the local councils EHO and the quicker the original and errant in law bedroom tax decision is changed.  Yet this is one reason why a standard template letter cannot be drafted as there are far too many variables in each individual case.

In terms of the bedroom tax decision once the HB department of your council have a report from their EHO they must consider this and the tenant needs to state to the HB department that they are asking they review the original bedroom tax decision and if the council for whatever reason refuse then the council must accept the tenants letter as one of formal appeal.  The HA2004 Act issue of minimum room size of a bedroom has yet to be argued at an appeal tribunal and it needs to be as the evidence for it is powerful, and again I recommend the recent Southwark decision which accepts the 2009 LACORS guidance on it and states the HA2004 is a much need update of HA1985 which in turn updates a 1935 Act which in turn updated the 1875 Public Health Act.

Social landlords will be concerned at this and with good reason.  Not only are councils duty bound to inspect their properties and able to charge that inspection cost to landlords, but there will also be the cost of any improvement notices and other enforcement actions on landlords from these reports.  However it remains to be seen if councils attempt to charge social landlords and especially where councils have no housing of their own as they need good relationships with local social landlords for other housing duties and strategy.

Yet this means either landlord or council will have to bear even more costs and given that it could be 20% – 25% of all social properties that contain a purported bedroom of less than 70 square feet (it is 33% in Fife apparently) then some huge cost and financial risks emerge from this.

It would be far more practical and financially beneficial for tenant, landlord and council if local councils ruled en masse that a bedroom for bedroom tax purposes has to have a usable floor space of at least 70 square feet, and when this HA2004 room size issue reaches the Upper Tribunal it is highly likely to make that a legal precedent in any case.  Yet local councils are cravenly and upon reading this errantly and stupidly hiding behind the DWPs U7/2013 HB circular which says a bedroom is defined in any way you like except measurement which the HA2004 reveals to be unlawful and a legal fiction.

Part of the rationale behind this post is to open up discussion on the HA2004 implications for the bedroom tax which as the U7/2013 HB circular demonstrates clearly has not been considered by central government when it has to; the DWP like all local councils implementing the bedroom tax decisions is not above the law.

Housing professionals may well read this with a degree of incredulity given the huge awareness and discussion over minimum bedroom size in HA1985 in relation to the bedroom tax then why has the HA2004 not been raised to date?  Yet the law is there for all to see in the HA2004 and guidance to it and without any doubt the issue of room size only applying to overcrowding as many have argued the HA1985 to be is a side issue of little relevance compared to the points above which show the HA2004 applies to ALL residential properties.

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), National Housing Federation (NHF) and all other housing lobbies and umbrella groups will doubtless have to now take a view on this.  I am surprised that the Local Government Association (LGA) has not published a view on the HA2004 relevance to the bedroom tax as the LACORS guidance on HA2004 was published by the LGA!  All local councils who administer the bedroom tax will also have to take a considered and urgent view on the issues raised here.

The DWP will be apoplectic over these issues being raised as they do show they do not know what they are talking about; and the unlawful U7 HB circular they issued reveals the bedroom tax has very serious shortcomings and IS highly politically motivated and that its central aim is not one of making better use of stock or any nonsense such as removing the spare room subsidy which in any case never existed.

The LACORS 2009 guidance defines the critical difference between ‘overcrowding’ as in the HA1985 and ‘crowding and space’ in the HA2004.  It reads:

“’Crowding and space’ is described in the HHSRS Operating Guidance as a hazard associated with lack of space within a dwelling for living, sleeping and normal family/household life.  The assessment is not just a measure of over-occupation by the existing household.”

This means that when local council HB departments have stated that minimum room sizes only applies to overcrowding that they are errant in law and further that when they say the HA1985 does not apply they have missed the fact that HA2004 does apply.

Has the proverbial just hit the fan? Yes and that fan is pointing very fixedly at local and central government and the tenant has just increased that fan to warp speed and has plenty of shit to hand as that is what they have received since April and now able to return it all to central and local government!

NOTES and SOURCES and other

The HA2004 can be found here

The LACORS guidance here (read introduction)

The recent LB Southwark Property Tribunal decision is here

I have put this post out under my name and also under the name of Reclaim who are a grassroots group formed to oppose the bedroom tax and other welfare reforms and cuts.  Reclaim are forming as a Not for Profit company given demand which has seen them professionally advise well over 400 cases working just one evening per week since March .  Their initial sole focus on bedroom tax by necessity has extended to the benefit cap, local council tax benefits, JSA and ESA sanctions as well as appeals and DHP applications and other related bedroom tax issues.

I am delivering a series of bedroom tax / welfare reform seminars, training sessions and workshops on appeals, DHP and lodgers from the end of this month and initially across Wales, the North East and the North West and these include all appeals to date including some unpublished ones and some decisions councils have taken at review rather than go to appeal.

Profits from these will be donated to Reclaim and so unashamedly I am promoting my work here for a good cause and for the first time ever. Please email if you need further details on these UK wide events on joe@hsmonline.co.uk  or thereclaimgroup@aol.co.uk At some of these events Reclaim volunteers will be presenting on all aspects of their work including setting up a federation which many tenant groups are seeking to emulate, and some with the full backing of their social landlords which is a very welcome development that all should have taken a long time ago