Tag Archives: Housing association

Another vote on Bedroom Tax on 12 November 2013

Checkout this Youtube and remember those who face eviction:

beaker_1743003cI’m sure many will be Intrigued to learn that Danny Alexander father who works for a housing association has blast his son and coalition over the most dreaded bedroom tax as particularly unfair in a stinging attack.

Di Alexander condemnation is his son’s favourite welfare reform can by revealed as Labour prepares to call on David Cameron and his sidekick George Osborne to kill the bedroom tax on a vote on 12 Nov 2013.

He said tenants forced out of their homes could not find alternative places to live and revealed that the Coalition’s welfare shake up meant “considerable challenges” for his housing association tenants in Scotland.

“It penalize both tenants and management team for not being able to magic up a supply of smaller properties particularly those with only one bedroom, when we have been funded by Coalition since our inception to build nothing smaller than two bedroom flats and houses”

The criticism is a major embarrassment for his Cabinet minister son and the Chancellor. The pair have claimed will save around 480 Million a per year and affect 600.000 people.

An ex-minister has warned that the ConDems‘ hated Bedroom Tax will actually end up costing the Government money.

_49789892_jex_858863_de27-1Labour’s former work and pensions minister Baroness Hollis of Heigham told the House of Lords that ministers have previously claimed the policy would lead to savings of £490m.

But Lady Hollis savaged the savings claim, saying the figure was based on assumptions that would not come true.

And she painted a grim picture of thousands of British families enduring a stressful ‘snakes and ladders’ existence as the tax forces them to be constantly on the move.

Lady Hollis, who spent eight years as social security and work and pensions minister in the previous government, issued her warning as peers debated the impact of the bedroom tax.

The policy – whose real name is the under-occupancy charge – means social housing tenants are docked up to 25 per cent of their benefit if they are deemed to have too much room.

Lady Hollis said the Government had assumed that 90% of people hit by the benefit cut would remain in their current homes, but surveys showed only 60% wanted to stay.

She told peers a more ‘realistic’ assumption was that 70% of people would stay and costs such as people running up rent arrears, moving into B&Bs and councils providing discretionary payments to some affected tenants had to be taken into account.

She said: “The public purse – I’ve done the stats – far from making savings, makes a significant loss.

“Tenants, far from enjoying a settled home, will face a snakes and ladders of moving up and down and across from one bed to two bed, perhaps to three bed all in different places and then down the snake again according to the age and gender of their children.

“Each move bringing huge moving costs, stress and dislocation especially to disabled families, their children and the local communities that support them.

“All this misery, all this cruelty, all this distress, to meet housing pressures that will actually now worsen and to make savings that now won’t happen.

“And we call this a housing policy? It’s strong language but I call this contemptible.”

Communities and local government minister Baroness Stowell of Beeston defended the Government’s policies

She said that affordable homes were now being built at the fastest annual rate for at least 20 years and the policy returned fairness to the housing benefit system by ‘levelling the playing field.’

stowellLady Stowell told peers: “It cannot be right that the taxpayer should continue to pay for homes which are too large for the households’ needs.”

She assured peers extensive research on impact of the policy had been commissioned and this would be published next year.

The government says it is providing £405m in discretionary housing payments while the new system is introduced.

But figures revealed last month show that more than 50,000 council tenants are facing eviction after falling behind on their rent because of the bedroom tax.

And a further 30,000 people living in housing association properties are also behind on their rent after the tax was introduced in April.

Who is telling porkies over bedroom tax?

3717197069As parliamentarians and councillors take leave for the summer recess there are many who cannot afford a basic holiday with their children or their love ones driven by many factors which in most cases are out of their control.

bedroomtaxevictionsI have seen many of my close friends who cannot afford to pay their mortgage or rent owing to some companies going bust, liquidation, or they have been put in the scrap heap and they had to downsize and heavily became dependent on food banks which has become more frequent, in some cases they had to move out of London and surrounding areas to relocated to the West Midlands Region and other parts of the country whilst they still try to hold their families together by looking for alternative employment.

Lucky for some of my friends they have managed to form new alliances within the new communities that they have move into whilst some cannot accept the change of their new-found lifestyle and had to receive counselling for depression. I would not wish my worst enemy the faith that some of my friends and relatives had gone through since the coalition came to power.

download11This coalition continues with their mantra of attacking young single parents and the unemployed to get a job. There are many people who are on long-term unemployment some who would love the challenge to gain full-time employment who are doing something about it by returning to college to learning new skills but are constantly being put down by this coalition as work-shy.

Is there no stopping this coalition as they target young single patent as they try to get on the social housing list only to be informed by social housing landlords there is no flats or homes for you. What has this country has come to dog eat dog attitude.

NiemoellerQuote02SFPeaceMarch260pxwMany people have known for some time that the Bedroom Tax would not work as this coalition got it wrong they continue to make us suffer and there is not enough one room accommodation as this coalition failed to build more affordable social housing which includes the previous Labour Government. Recently a group of disabled people took their case to court and I understand they lost their case over Bedroom Tax. My hope is that the groups in concern use tact by continue with their fight and start to lobby all the political parties to make changes to Bedroom Tax and remind politicians about disabilities power and your vote counts in all the elections.

Do ask them the question where do they stand on the following:

Where do they stand on Bedroom Tax?

Where do they stand on building more affordable social housing?

Where do they stand on Illegal immigrants being advertised on ad vans?

Where do they stand on Welfare Reform?

Where do they stand on getting long-term unemployment by helping them to get back to full-time employment and zero contracts?

Interestingly recently there was an article which highlighted many concerns in regards to the Bedroom Tax. See below:

businessdesk__1359460624_Liam_ByrneThe Government’s justification for its controversial “bedroom tax” has been debunked by new figures showing that up to 96 per cent of those affected have, in effect, nowhere to move.

The figures published today in The Independent expose the false argument behind ministerial attempts to spin the move as ending the “spare-room subsidy”, and confirm campaigners’ claims that it merely penalised poor people.

The policy means that tenants have their housing benefit reduced by 14 per cent if they have one spare bedroom, and 25 per cent if they have two or more spare bedrooms.

Yet more than 19 out of 20 families hit by the bedroom tax are trapped in their larger homes because there is nowhere smaller within the local social housing stock to take them. This is shown by figures provided by councils in response to Freedom of Information requests by the Labour Party.

For the 38 councils that provided full data, 99,079 families are expected to be affected by the bedroom tax, but only 3,803 one and two-bedroom social housing properties are available – just 3.8 per cent of the homes required to rehouse the families who are hit.

Another 26 councils who responded said they expected a total of 45,669 families to be affected, but were unable to say how many smaller properties were available in their area.

Liam Byrne, the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “The big lie behind this Government’s spiteful bedroom tax is now plain for all to see. Ministers like to claim it’s not a tax, but the truth is more than 96 per cent of those hit have nowhere to move to.

david-cameron-and-nick-clegg-581678590“This hated tax is trapping thousands of families, forcing vulnerable people to food banks and loan sharks, and there is now a serious danger it could end up costing Britain more than it saves as tenants are forced to go homeless or move into the expensive private rented sector. David Cameron’s bedroom tax is the worst possible combination of cruelty and incompetence. He should drop it now.”

The situation is affecting local authorities around the country. In Birmingham, 13,557 households are affected by the bedroom tax, but just 368 one and two-bedroom properties are currently unoccupied. In Cornwall, meanwhile, there are just 65 one and two-bedroom homes and more than 3,300 people eligible to be charged for under-occupancy.

photoIDS1Steve Turner, executive director for policy at Unite, said: “These figures show beyond any doubt that Iain Duncan Smith has been misleading the public. He tried to spin the bedroom tax as a way of managing housing stock, but in fact it is a cruel and callous attack on some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

“The evidence now overwhelmingly shows that the Government has made a grave mistake with this policy. They must abandon it now before more lives are destroyed.”

In Sefton, Merseyside, more than 3,600 people were competing for 18 available one and two-bedroom properties at the time of the FOI. Kevin Appleton, income manager at One Vision Housing, which manages Sefton Council’s waiting list, said that the situation was now even more stark.

“As of today we’ve got 8,360 people on the waiting list. Of these, 4,859 want one-bedroom homes and on this week’s adverts we had just six available. It’s making life very hard for people whose lives were hard anyway. The demand for three-bed properties has fallen through the floor,” he said.

Louise Harding, head of tenant services at the Coast and Country Housing association in Redcar, said in one of their worst-hit areas there were 53 three-bedroom properties empty and queues of people desperate to downsize. “It’s appalling,” she said. “We’ve got 1,100 people wanting to downsize to a one-bedroom property and on average we only have around 30 available every year. At this rate it will take 37 years for all those people to get one-bedroom homes. The iniquity of it is shocking; this about money-making.”

More than half of those affected by the policy have a disability – and campaigners say they will appeal against last week’s High Court decision that it did not discriminate against disabled people, who often need an extra room in which to sleep alone.

The Government announced last Tuesday that it would increase the emergency funds available for those affected by increased housing costs by £35m. But the handouts, known as discretionary housing payments, are a fraction of the millions needed to cover people’s shortfall in rent.

The chief executive of Citizens Advice, Gillian Guy, said: “Discretionary housing payments are worth only a small fraction of the total cut in housing benefit and are often only temporary, meaning problems can go unresolved.”

She added: “This is an upside-down approach to policy-making which doesn’t get to the root cause of why housing benefit costs have increased. We have a chronic shortage of affordable housing in the UK with over 1.8 million households on waiting lists.  As long as this dire lack of housing options exists then the Government can’t reasonably tell people they have a choice about downsizing to a smaller home.”

Chris Goulden, head of poverty at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “It is very difficult to see how this policy can work without causing severe hardship, particularly as many of those affected are disabled people. The housing benefit bill could also rise if more people move into the private rented sector because of a shortage of one or two-bedroom properties in social housing.”

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “This ignores the fact that people may move to housing in the private sector and not all tenants will have to downsize because they could make up any shortfall through getting a job or increasing their working hours. These reforms will save the taxpayer £1bn over the next two years and help to ensure a better use of our housing stock when in England alone there are nearly two million households on the social housing waiting list, and over a quarter of a million tenants are living in overcrowded homes.”

While the DWP argues that social housing tenants who want to downsize could instead spend their housing benefit on private accommodation, there is already a major shortage of small, cheap private accommodation.

It would also defeat the cost-cutting aim of the whole policy, since the housing benefit payable for a private one-bedroom place is often more than for a two-bedroom council house. Saving enough for the deposit needed for private housing is a further issue – and a near-impossibility for those already struggling with rent arrears because of the bedroom tax.

Spotlight: Trapped by the tax

Since the introduction of the bedroom tax, thousands of families in the Cotswolds have been trapped in larger properties that they are penalised for by the new charge.

In Wiltshire, there were no unoccupied one- and two-bedroom properties at all, for 2,953 affected households, though 48 were advertised as being available shortly. The situation is similar in Gloucestershire, which had just three suitable properties for 540 people.

Jo Sutton at Wiltshire Citizens Advice Bureau said: “We’re seeing a number of clients who have been hit by this and the impact is huge for some people.”

A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “We are doing everything we can to support families through these significant changes.”

Case Study: ‘I’m £200 in arrears and it’s only been two weeks’

Hannah Smith, 28, lives in a three-bedroom house in Hyde, Cheshire, with children Gracey, 7, and Jake, 6.

I’ve always said that this house could be for a bigger family. I’ve been asking on and off for the last six years for a two-bedroom place, but the housing association said it couldn’t happen, so I’ve been stuck here.

We had a letter the month before the bedroom tax came in, saying that due to the ages of the children, I’m under-occupying my home by one bedroom and by April we’d have to start paying extra for the rent and also council tax.

Now I’m out of pocket £48 a month. It’s stupid because they wouldn’t move me. I’m already more than £200 in arrears and it’s only been a few weeks. They won’t let me apply for a new two-bedroom place because I’m in arrears. But I can’t clear my arrears because of the bedroom tax. It’s crazy.

On the estate where I live, two-bedroom properties are very rare. Everybody is going to be queuing up for them now.

You have to juggle paying your rent and getting the food in for your children. I haven’t had to use food banks yet, but I may have to.

I’ve worked in a shop and as a care assistant, but not since I was left on my own with the children.

This tax doesn’t work. David Cameron is taking money from people who are just trying to stay afloat.”

Run-down seaside towns a  ‘dumping ground’ for the vulnerable

Declining seaside towns around Britain are suffering “severe social breakdown” as they becoming “dumping grounds” for people on low incomes or welfare benefits, pushed out from inner-city areas, a report has found.

Hotels that once accommodated holiday makers are increasingly being converted into cheap flats for vulnerable tenants. The properties are also being used by councils in wealthier areas as low-cost options for housing children in care, said the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) think-tank.

Their findings show that Britain is spending almost £2bn a year on welfare payments to people of working age in seaside towns. The report, entitled “Turning the Tide”, calls for action to revive the fortunes of seaside towns.

It’s time for some common sense when it comes to our public services. And that means putting to bed the myths and lies that the right have been peddling for 30 years.

The Tories and their media allies would have you believe that privately run services are popular, cheaper, higher quality, more efficient, more innovative, more accountable and more able to invest.

Every single one of those claims is false.

Privatised services are less efficient than public ones. They deliver a worse service at greater expense. They are far accountable, and hide their failings behind “commercial confidentiality.”

They cannot borrow to invest and innovate as cheaply as the public sector can.

Nor can they simultaneously provide a decent service and a fat profit. Something always has to give – and it’s always pay, staffing levels and the quality of service that suffers.

Skilled, full-time workforces are hacked back and replaced with inexperienced, untrained staff on minimum wage and zero-hours contracts.

That doesn’t just harm the users who suffer a much worse service.

It harms all of us, as our cash which pays for the service gets siphoned off by tax-dodgers and speculators instead of boosting Britain’s economy and our workers’ standard of living.

We have seen this happen time and time again. The sell-off of British Rail fragmented the network, hammered services and cost us decades’ worth of expertise in maintenance and train-building.

If British Telecom had stayed public we would have had fibre-optic lines in every household a decade ago. Instead the market free-for-all meant that companies focused on squeezing every drop of profit out of our ageing copper cables with barely a thought to research or infrastructure.

As a result Britain was left lagging miles behind countries such as South Korea when the internet boom began, and we’re still struggling to catch up.

Energy and water firms have cranked up prices while allowing Victorian-era infrastructure to fall to pieces.

And the NHS is just one of the legions of public organisations – from the army to the London hire-bike scheme – which are paying through the nose for privateers such as Serco to do a bad, corner-cutting job.

Bluntly, there is no economic case for privatisation of any public service, ever.

And crucially there is no political case too. Anyone who claims that the public want privatisation, or even that they don’t care either way, is wrong.

Whenever politicians condescend to ask voters’ opinion, the answer is always the same – public services should be in public hands, and profiteering from them is wrong.

People don’t want the likes of Serco raking in billions for doing jobs public servants used to do.

People don’t want the “choice” of a confusing tangle of contracts and options and add-ons, as if health care were like buying a mobile phone. They just want a single, basic, decent, well-funded service available to all.

That’s the simple truth that the Tories don’t care about and that Labour has failed to learn.

We Own It’s report is a welcome step towards getting the public’s clear wishes back on the political agenda.

There are some big gaps in its recommendations. Bringing outsourced employees back in-house is easy enough, and we know that rail can be renationalised at no cost by taking franchises back into public control when they expire.

But the report doesn’t touch on the big renationalisations of energy or water, which would come only at the vast economic cost of paying off the privateers or the political cost of biting the bullet and renationalising without compensation.

Nonetheless, it’s a welcome rebuttal to decades of Tory lies – and a challenge to Labour to give the public what they really want. Public services in public hands.