Charity’s legal challenge to housing benefit cuts

by Property118.com News Team

11:29 AM, 8th March 2011
About 8 years ago

Charity’s legal challenge to housing benefit cuts

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Charity’s legal challenge to housing benefit cuts

Plans to slash housing benefit face a court challenge because they are unfair to disadvantaged families with children.

The Child Poverty Action Group has announced they are launching action to take the government to the High Court for a judicial review of benefit changes that take effect from April 1.

The charity is objecting to the policy change on two grounds:

  • They go against the fundamental purpose of the housing benefit scheme, which was intended as a national scheme to prevent homelessness
  • Ministers have failed to consider equality duties because ethnic minorities and lone parents face a disproportionate effect from the cuts.

The two changes to housing benefit from April 1 involve restricting the maximum home size for private renters claiming housing benefit to four bedrooms and capping the amount paid in benefit.

The new weekly rates cannot exceed £250 for a one bedroom home; £290 for two bedrooms; £340 for three bedrooms or £400 for a four bedroom home.

The Child Poverty Action Group claims these cuts are likely to affect London in particular.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has calculated around 9,000 London households will have to move home.

The Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group, Alison Garnham, said: “We have served legal proceedings on the Government to protect Britain from becoming a country where neighbourhoods that have been open to all families to live in for generations become more like a private members club.

“Housing benefit will no longer be the national scheme it is legally meant to be once cuts redesign it as an engine of social segregation. It is not right that families living in certain areas, especially larger families, are punished and pushed aside while parts of Britain become enclaves for the privileged.

“London will be worst affected of all. The cuts will mean the social cleansing of parts of London with families being forced out of their homes and into less suitable, often poor quality and cramped housing.

“Children will be forced to move away from schools, friends, neighbourhoods and family. For some this may include moving away from another parent, most often their dad.

“David Cameron made a clear promise before the election to make British poverty history. We didn’t expect this to mean families being told to pack up and move out of the neighbourhood their parents and grandparents lived in because of the housing market bubble the bankers created and the bankers’ bailout that hit the ordinary taxpayer.”



Comments

9:54 AM, 11th March 2011
About 8 years ago

The government and local councils would save money by not allowing benefits of any kind to foreigners unless they have been living here for a minimum of 3 years and have worked in the country for a minimum of 3 years also.
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My father, after serving in the forces during the World War 11, decided to stay in England. He did not receive financial help. At that time you either got a job or had help from the government to return to your native country.

My daughter supports her one year old daughter alone. She recently changed from working full-time to working 3 days a week to spend more time with her child. After paying rent,nursery, full Council tax, petrol to and from work, bills ect.. has £22 a month left for food.

Whilst working full-time she was in deficit of £20 per week. Needless to say we help her, however, she would be better off not working at all.

Surely young people should not be penalised by trying to live and work at the same time.

14:52 PM, 12th March 2011
About 8 years ago

I am a Landlord and have many tenants between the ages of 18 and 25 years of age who do not want to work. Most do not have dependents but have been unemployed for 3 or more years. They pay only £280 pcm rent and Housing Benefit pay £220 pcm . 90% of these tenants try not ot pay the difference of £60 in the rent.

Its a constant battle , They wont go to work even for a small part-time job that would not affect there benefits but they DO have money to go out and spend on drinking. The exception is most Polish Workers here in England who will work even 15 hour shifts and 98% pay rent on time.

The priorities are wrong in this Country. In England we should say if you do not accept the Third interview for work your Work benefit will be stopped and NOT your Housing Benefit so they still have a place to live and are not on the streets but make them work or loose the other Benefits. Exception if you have a Genuine Disability and cannot work.

When i was young i felt ashamed for the short time i claimed Benefits and wanted to work for myself and the country. Now people EXPECT the country to pay for their staying at home.

In Brazil you would get NOTHING. Just one payment per year which is a payment given to the local Authority to divide between all of the people and amzingly enough this country has NO DEBTS - NO WARS - GOOD MINERAL DEPOSITS - SUN - AND PEOPLE DONT MOAN and our then PM Gordon Brown has to go cap in hand to Brazil after the 2007 Start of the Financial Crises to ask for a LOAN for our Country. They can Laugh they think we are crazy.

Here in England I have experienced many problems with charities like surestart too - They inform the Tenant of all their rights and what Benefits they are entitled too and then the tenant wrecks the house , moves dogs in without asking of which eat the house and the Landlord pays the bills and picks up the peices and I the Landlord pay the bank / Mortgage and Goverment through my Taxes. Many of these people 80% are on Drugs and dont care about anyone but themselves - WHY should we help them - I hear people of middle England who some obviously dont rent houses talking about not helping the poor. Is it poor or is it people who dont want to help themselves and destroy other peoples lives with their habits .

After 2 months and the house destroyed not even Surestart will go in they disappear. The police they say its a civil matter everytime - The courts they want their £150 fee to take the Tenant to court and the Tenant has no money so NO POINT taking them to court you are wasting your time and money. The Landlord ONCE AGAIN picks up the pieces and pays for the damage.

WHY ON EARTH are this silly Government still paying Tenants LHA to the Tenant for Housing Benefit. Oh yes after 8 weeks you can claim direct for the rent to be paid to the Landlords Account but then they owe you Two months rent. I have Tenants despatrate to have their rent paid direct to the Landlord so they dont see it in their Bank Account and so dont have the temptation to spend it. If they have not managed their accounts and rent in the past they will not change. Why are they allowed by this government to spend their Housing Benefit " Roof over Head Money" on Clothes, Food, Nappies, Holidays,Beer, and anything else they wish too and the Landlord who is paying the BANKS has to go into Debt and chase them on a weekly basis. You tell me if a Tenant asks for his rent to be paid to the Landlord " His Wish " Then WHY ARE HIS HUMAN RIGHTS OF THAT WISH BEING DENIED. We bang on about Human Rights in this country and yet when a Tenant says to his respected Landlord I ve got myself straight and off the drugs please can I have the money paid Direct to your account dear Landlord so i am not tempted to spend this money for my living accomodation on drugs I have to say "oh " Are you still on a drug scheme or under a Doctor or do you have any Debt problems and if he or she replies well NO
I ve got myself striaght now but i dont want to be tempted back to that hell of a lifestlye on drugs. I have to say SORRY I cannot help you need to receive your Housing Benefit Direct to your Account under silly LHA Laws that dont respect Human Rights that say if a Tenant wants their Housing Benefit paid direct to their Landlord then NO they cannot do that.

I have seen cases where the Drug Addict Tenant now clean of Drugs has gone back on drugs because suddenly he has lots of Money in his account from Housing Benefit paid to him direct and he can now BUY DRUGS and when the Landlord goes for his rent he gets a different person from who he spoke with on renting the room initially , and now his personality has changed and he is now back on drugs and wrecking the house. What a temptation provided very kindly by are respected Government and the LHA Laws of paying a Tenant the RENT.

The other scam at the moment with these silly LHA Laws is the Tenant moves into a Bedsit/Room and stays Two months and just has a suitcase of clothes with no deposit and claims Housing Benefit . So they stay Two months 8 weeks because that is the time the Landlord has to wait to claim the rent direct from Housing Benefit under LHA Laws then the Tenant leaves owing rent and now has a deposit for the next room to rent - so pack your suitcase up move on and rent another room , with small a deposit for the next room - Then do the same again and again. Pay £150 Deposit on next room and keep £ 440 rent = too Two months Rent and dont pay the next unsuspecting Landlord and move on again after Two Months. If you do this for Twelve months finding private unsuspecting Landlords you are making £290.00 pcm for doing nothing so 290 x 12 = £ 3480.00 per year less your
£ 150 deposit paid on entry for your room . You may not be asked for a deposit if the Landlord is desparate for Tenants to fill his rooms so then you stay Two months for FREE and leave with your suitcase to your next room and next unsuspecting Landlord all provided by the GOVERNMENT with the crazy LHA Laws of paying Housing Benefit " Roof over Head " Direct to the Tenant. If the Landlord could say well if you have your Housing Benefit payment direct to the Landlord you may have this room then the Landlord gets his £ 440 for Two months rent and if the Tenant leaves the room then no problem ok you have not got the actual £ 280 rent PCM but who will chase £120 the difference in the rent. This Government and the Last Government let the little rascals renting your room run away with Two months rent making him or her a Theif - And if you ask for a Deposit or a higher Deposit you have your house empty as the Tenant doing this SCAM will just try somewhere else for a Landlord who will take no deposit and take the risk because if he doesnt take the risk the Landlord may sit there with the house empty and the Council Tax needing to be paid, plus the Mortgage/Bank to pay plus bills , Elec , Gas to pay etc. This Government let the theifs get away with the rent by the SYSTEM being wrong. Housing Benefit is what it says Housing Benefit for the House/ or Room so why on earth are this Government giving the opportunity to the Tenant to keep the money for other uses when the Landlord is paying the BANK, TAXES, and Paying the GOVERNMENT and often the BILS to the house on a bills inclusive AST.

WHY do the government pay the Tenant the rent direct to the Tenant and say oh we just want to make the tenant responsible . What a load of rubbish - It is better the Landlord be left with the reponsibility to pay the above and the Government be RESPONSIBLE for once Pay the Landlord direct then we are all Happy - WHY dont the Government talk to Landlords before making Laws they are in the most knowledgeble position and aware of the problems. Instead they antagonise these hard working people and these Landlords are the ones actually paying the Government in Taxes on the Rent. Our country in many cases supports the criminal and not the victim and also supports people who do not want to work and not the ones who want to go to work for a small wage.

We have got to make policies to get people to think to work is best. And we must make the System not encourage people to do just 16 hours work and claim Benefits and change the system of payment so you are better to have a job and to work than to sit at home.

As this man explained there are cases where you can do 40 hours work on minimum wage and if you take into account your rent and Benefits paid for not working you are actually better off not working or you are working for £20 a week doing 40 hours . That is the difference of working against benefits and for getting out of Bed early morning and given jobs to do by your Boss.

Well most people then say oh Best to work for cash in hand and claim Benefits .Cash in the pocket and Benefits paid and less hours .

Obviously most Politicians have not done Mathematics at School it seems. If they had then they would not create a system that pays to stay at home.

Approximate Example if you take home after deductions in a job 50 hours work at x £5.95 p/hr = £297.50 less Tax and Nat Insurance but your rent is £125.00 p/week of which you need to pay out of your job/income you will be left with £132.00 after Tax paid from your Job .

so if you work just 16 hours at £10.00 p/ hour cash in hand not declared then 16 x £10.00 = £160 and 80% of your rent is paid for by Housing Benefit i.e £100 then you pay £25.00 to your rent = £160.00 - £ 20.00 = £140.00 Cash left in pocket for only 16 hours work and yet you only have £132.00 left in pocket for a salaried PAYE job and 50 hours work.

Plus you dont have the extra Benefits provided when on Housing Benefit with no job. - so where is the incentive to work. - Realistically the Government do not have the resources especially with the cutbacks to investigate millions of people working for cash in hand. So why dont they introduce better schemes to help people to be better off working on a PAYE job and Paying Taxes and not giving money away on Benefts.

Infact what they actually do is promote Health and Safety of the workplace and where there is blame there is a claim = No Win No Fee Lawyers so that no Employer really wants to employ a person as so many risks . Only if they have to employ for their work will they Employ and then look for Contract Workers so without the risks and easier to Hire and Fire peole.

We are creating a country to affraid to Employ people due to the Rights of Workers Acts and Pensions and Helath & Safety and Holiday Entitlement and Blame Culture of Compensation and SicknesActs Benefits and Maternity Benefits and every Benefit what we can think of when in work but WHAT ABOUT THE COMPANY with higher fuel costs and with higher heating costs for the premises and with less trade and with more Laws for Employees and having to provide Safe Premises of Work Costs and to withstand all of these extra costs to a small company aswell as meet Borrowed Bank Loans to the Company from the Bank. You can just see at a glance the problems. Why the Big Society of set-up small businesses faces a huge challenge as costs are escalating out of control to make these companies a viable proposition.

So what do people think - Lets set -up and grow a Canibus Factory and take the risk to earn Big Money. Then all over England are millions of Canibus factories being set-up by chancers and some by large Drug Gangs who work on the basis of if 5 get found by the police then 5 will not get found out and large profits are to be made even though the professional set-ups are well set-up with large investments in equipment and often to unsuspecting Landlords. These crooks let the illegal immigrants look after their crop with a demand of if you do the job for FREE we will let you go and pay your fare back to your country . If you dont work for them big trouble .....Danger for your welfare.

Easy to catch them if the Police really want too, Just fly in a Helicopter with a Heat Detection Camara and point it to the ground and all of the houses with a large heat presence will most likely be Canibus Factories or when it snows in the winter just fly in your helicopter and look for where the snow has melted away quickly and most likely reason is a canibus factory as they emit extreme heat temperatures. If you really want to catch the people watering the plants most days if they are worth catching just wait one or two nights in a van and they will come to the property and bingo you have an arrest. But really Police are looking for the Big Boys the promoters the paymasters the Funders of the Business.

Anyway time to stop now - Hope you enjoyed the Read .

Mark Alexander

15:16 PM, 12th March 2011
About 8 years ago

Hi Robert

I felt so much better after having my online Tax Rant (http://www.property118.com/index.php/my-annual-tax-rant/) so I hope your soap box moment has similar effects on you after getting this little lot off your chest. Good for you my friend!

I don't get involved with HMO's , renting rooms or LHA myself but I do know a lot of landlords that do. Two useful tips I've picked up recently from discussions with them that might serve you well:-

1) Always insist on them having a guarantor who's working.

2) Use LRS - new web-site to report and check out bad tenants. Free service http://www.landlordreferencing.co.uk/

I wish you well and thank you for taking the time out to share your views.

Regards

Mark

sue thompson

11:42 AM, 19th March 2011
About 8 years ago

Well done Robert Birchall - I think you said that for all landlords. I have had all your experiences also.

Few more here:

The government never extended LHA to social landlords because they knew that the rent would not be paid and the council's and Social Registered Landlords would go bankrupt. Also they continued to pay council tax benefit direct to the council. Surely this is also why we pay income tax direct. I am not sure how social landlords are going to cope with the Universal Credit proposals.

You say that the government should have consulted with landlords. I sat on a committee with the DWP for five years and it was like talking to cotton wool . They were determined to bring in LHA and all the consulting was not going to make any difference except to the National Debt. Even after the two years Pathfinders, they had to do an evaluation (estimated cost of £200,000)but they never asked the relevant questions like how has this increased homelessness or how many tenants, who are now 'financially inclusive' have actually returned to work now they can have an extra £15 per week in their pockets. Here in the North East we do not have enough jobs. My answer is that all these people should be made to attend classes (teaching amongst other things tenant responsibilitiesdaily) 9.00 - 5.00, before they can receive their own Income Support. At least they would learn the discipline of getting out of bed before noon. The problem is that they are not only unemployed they are unoccupied. Unoccupied people are more likely to commit crimes anti social behaviour etc.

We the private landlords have become the social housing providers. The Homeless Sections and local authorities are always asking me to take their 'homeless clients'. These are the most vulnerable section of society but as soon as we take them we get our fingers burnt. I am willing to give my houses to the council to lease direct but our local council does not want to know. They want us to house them and then blame us for their bad behaviour and gives the neighbours justification to castigate private landlords.

Newcastle City Council however are asking landlords for direct leases because they have such a shortage of housing. Hartlepool Borough Council say there are 2,000 street houses in Hartlepool (they should move some of those Londoners up here or the Geordies down) surplus to requirements - hence tenants can flit from one to another. The other reason landlords do not want to leave their properties empty is because of vandalism - local authorities are very reluctant to impose Empty Home Management Orders beause they cannot cope with tenants and housing.

As you say the government just do not recognise the amount of work involved in housing benefit tenants. My files are several inches thick. My working tenants' files just have a tenancy agreement in them.

There are mandatory reasons for paying the landlord direct:

Claim Third Party Deductions for your tenants in rent arrears. Some local authorities have never heard of this but it is Reg 95 HB Regulations 2006.

Make your tenancy agreements payable in advance by eight weeks.

If your tenant has drug alcohol or gambling problems - it is still discretionary. Our local authority wanted to have evidence of gambling problems! How do you prove this?

We always try to get a home owner to act as gurantor - you can check on the Land Registry website to see if they are genuine home owners for £4.

Good luck.


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