Sunday, January 27, 2013

Impact of bedroom tax in wards across Liverpool

Down the page you will see a table showing the impact of the bedroom tax in wards across Liverpool.

The  Social Sector Size Criteria Restriction (Bedroom Tax) – is better described as a reduction in Housing Benefit (which pays the rent on behalf of low income tenants) for those living in social housing, ie Housing Association properties where they are deemed to be under-occupying their home.

The new rules say that if you have more bedrooms in your home than you technically require, and you are in receipt of housing benefit to pay the rent for that home, you will see a reduction in that support, and you will have to pay more of the rent yourself for the privilege of having a spare room.

Parents in social housing who are separated or divorced from each other, and where one has access to their children at weekends for instance and where those children have a bedroom at both of their parents' homes, will find that one of them is going to be subject to the bedroom tax and classed as under-occupying - no exception has been made to recognise that the children need somewhere to sleep when they are staying with their other parent. We all know that children thrive best when they can spend time with both of their parents.

Parents who care for foster children, who of course must have their own bedrooms have not been exempted from the bedroom tax either, they too will find themselves penalised for ostensibly under-occupying. Liverpool City Council has committed to funding any shortfall for foster parents through utilising a small pot of money of discretionary funds.

People with occasional over-night requirements for carers will not be exempted, and so it goes on.

Owner occupiers can have as many spare bedrooms as they like of course. For guests, to keep the ironing in, for storage, for a home-based office, whatever they like. But social housing tenants must cut their cloth accordingly. How is this fair on any measure?

Here is a good example of how it will work, from L and H homes.

Of course nobody will have the money to pay this, given the cuts in their income, and the introduction of council tax into the budgets of people who have never had to pay it before, but that is of little interest to our Government.

This change only affects the working age population, not pensioners who have been spared the majority of benefit changes across the piece.

Some smaller social landlords are yet to provide the bedroom data to the Benefits Service so the number of affected cases is likely to increase by a further thousand to circa 11,600.

It is plain that the worst affected areas are those with large traditional council house estates, with a preponderance of 3 bedroom properties.

Of course no consideration has been given to where people could move to, if they are unable to find the extra rent. There are not enough 1 and 2 bedroom properties to go round.

And even if there were, it means people being asked to leave an estate or an area they may have lived in all their lives and go somewhere where they wont know anyone. It will destroy whole communities at a stroke.

The table below provides details of the affected cases by ward

Ward    No. Tenants Affected    Total Weekly HB reduction    Total Annual HB Reduction

Allerton & Hunts Cross      132    £1,835    £95,420
Anfield                               265    £3,611    £187,772
Belle Vale                          492    £6,622    £344,344
Central                              190    £2,686    £139,672
Childwall                             40    £609    £31,668
Church                                 6    £120    £6,240
Clubmoor                          745    £9,985    £519,220
County                              340    £3,905    £203,060
Cressington                       147    £2,136    £111,072
Croxteth                            378    £5,232    £272,064
Everton                             873    £11,462    £596,024
Fazakerley                        235    £3,333    £173,316
Greenbank                        152    £2,552    £132,704
Kensington & Fairfield      366    £4,472    £232,544
Kirkdale                           802    £10,325    £536,900
Knotty Ash                       364    £5,002    £260,104
Mossley Hill                        33    £431    £22,412
Norris Green                   1007    £14,252    £741,104
Old Swan                          242    £3,133    £162,916
Picton                                454    £5,574    £289,848
Princes Park                      817    £10,170    £528,840
Riverside                           533    £6,962    £362,024
Speke & Garston              656    £8,853    £460,356
St Michaels                       110    £1,418    £73,736
Tuebrook & Stoneycroft    229    £2,971    £154,492
Warbreck                          176    £2,282    £118,664
Wavertree                         154    £1,966    £102,232
West Derby                       124    £1,657    £86,164
Woolton                              57    £781    £40,612
Yewtree                            487    £6,760    £351,520

Total                             10,606    £141,097    £7,337,044

In Kensington and Fairfield this averages out at £50 per month that each home will have to find extra, otherwise they will go into arrears and presumably face eviction at some point.

Most of the cases we get in our advice surgeries relate to people's housing needs and their efforts to find somewhere else to live - which is a real struggle as so many people bid for each home that becomes vacant. I don't know how we are going to help 366 people to stay in the area when the waiting lists are so long and we don't have enough 1 and 2 bedroom properties to go round. I bet if you could see the figures for the Prime Minister's constituency or the Deputy Prime Minister's constituency they wont be facing these kind of numbers in their advice surgeries so they will never get to hear the real life stories from the people who they have condemned in this callous way.

It is also a nightmare for the social housing providers who face the problem of tenants being unable to pay their rent just because their child has grown up and left home, leaving a bedroom empty. Do they let people off the rent? Do they collect it determinedly? Do they start evicting tenants for non-payment of rent? And then where will these homeless tenants go? Obviously for new applicants of social housing it is straightforward to be able to say that you only let homes to people who wont be deemed to be under-occupying, but what about people who have lived in the same home all their lives as their families have grown and contracted?

This is an absolute disaster, a housing catastrophe of unimaginable proportions but it is unlikely to affect any Tory voters so don't expect much interest from the Government as it begins to play out.


carol walker said...

There is real fear and anxiety about this policy. It is bad enough to have to go through the humiliation of being unemployed and vilified relentlessly in the media nd by Government, but to then face the prospect of being made homeless, deliberatley plunged into rent arrears by Government policy is vile beyond words. I watched the debate on this issue raised by Phil Wilson and the passion with which he and colleagues made the case against it. The solitary lib dem lamb to the slaughter did indeed look sheepish. He says they will 'monitor' the situation. Well how about prevent the catastrophe that is impending. Please keep highlighting this issue,we need to get this policy scrapped before the chaos ensues!

rosalind said...

I Have to pay 11 95 per week rent for my son who is a non dependent.
that change was made in Sept 2012.
Now I am in rent arrears due to the fact i was unaware of the change.
In April i have to pay for another two bedrooms costing 30 pound per week from my benefit, I am already paying 50 pound per week for fuel with Scottish gas.
Thats not counting my £5 per week council tax and other out goings.
Their wont be anything left for food......?
It has been my home for 16 years now I suffer from chronic depression and any big change like that would unsettle me I have a good neighbor I don't want to move all the upheaval and all I have very bad circulation in my legs they are constantly swollen one more than the other i also have a metal plate in my other foot i tire easy and i have other health problem..
Its causing a lot of strain on family's It unfair bet they wont starve no not ever.. We as a nation need to stand up to the government and make them scrap this outrages tax like the poll tax ....We need to act now before it is to late..

Anonymous said...

Thank you for these clear and focused description. Having been an active Liverpool citizen, I now find myself studying abroad and have chosen to do an assignment on the bedroom tax as social policy that causes long term stress. This was helpful. Bea