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Body blow of Bedroom Tax 'will hit Liverpool hardest'

Social landlord blasts plan: 'There is literally nowhere for people to go'

Written by . Published on February 13th 2013.


Body blow of Bedroom Tax 'will hit Liverpool hardest'
 

THE Government's cruel bedroom tax will hit Liverpool harder than any other town or city in the country, housing experts have warned.  

And rather than reduce the Government's Welfare bill, it could increase it if tenants are forced out of their homes and into private accommodation. 

The shortage of one and two-bed social housing properties in Liverpool has prompted Angela Forshaw from Liverpool Mutual Homes to warn: “The bedroom tax won't work in Liverpool.” 

It is nothing to do with local resistance to a scheme that could eventually be viewed as David Cameron's Poll Tax moment. It is the logistical fact that there are not enough alternative properties for people doomed to be penalised by the new rule coming in from this April.

Data from Liverpool Mutual Homes (LMH) shows almost a quarter of the city’s social housing stock is made up of one-bed properties with two-beds accounting for 28pc. Three-bed properties make up the overwhelming majority with 42.3pc.

Visits

From April, around 11,000 social housing tenants in the city will be classed by the Government as under-occupying their homes and will have their Housing Benefit cut.

Tenants claiming Housing Benefit with one “spare” bedroom will lose 14pc, while those with two or more will see a 25pc reduction in their benefit cheques.

LMH has visited its 3,000 working age tenants who will be affected by the tax.

Angela Forshaw Of Liverpool Mutual HomesAngela Forshaw: 'The overwhelming reaction from the 3,000 tenants we visited is one of shock and also one of terrible anxiety'

About 1,000 are deemed to be under-occupying in accordance with the Government’s criteria by two or more bedrooms and will lose 25pc of their Housing Benefit - as much as £20 a week in some cases. Another 2,000 who have one ‘spare’ bedroom and will lose approximately £12 per week.

It means some households will have to find an extra £624 per year or, if they have two or more spare rooms, over £1,000 to plug the benefit gap.

Angela Forshaw, director of Housing at Liverpool Mutual Homes and Chair of the Liverpool Housing Association’s Welfare Reform Group, said: “The housing stock data underlines what we have been saying since the Government first introduced the policy: the Bedroom Tax won’t work in Liverpool.

'Impossible'

“The make-up of the city’s social housing predominantly comprises of three-bed properties, many built in garden suburbs in the interwar years to allow residents to make their homes and have families.

“At LMH, half of our inherited 15,000 properties are made up of three-bedroom properties but we have just 2,800 with two bedrooms, so downsizing everyone affected - and most don’t want to move - is impossible.”

A prime example is in the Clubmoor area where there are 750 working age families in receipt of Housing Benefit who the Government says are under-occupying.

LMH_Under-Occupation_MapLMH's under-occupation
map. Click to enlarge
LMH have 2,400 properties in and around the Larkhill estate - 1,931 with three-bedrooms but only 41 with two-bedroom. Assuming most would need to stay in the area for schools, work, family and friend connections and caring commitments, there is literally nowhere for them to go.

“Even if every LMH tenant agreed to downsize it would take us up to seven years to be able to offer them suitable alternative housing and this doesn’t take into account the current waiting list or a requirement for us to accommodate urgent cases such as statutory homeless people,” added Ms Forshaw.

“The overwhelming reaction from the 3,000 tenants we visited is one of shock and also one of terrible anxiety. Most people want to pay their rent and pay their way in life but they simple don’t have the financial capacity to be able to shrink their other financial commitments or debts to be able to meet the Government’s Bedroom Tax shortfall.

“The majority of people who will be affected are already struggling to make ends meet and ultimately it will drive people deeper into poverty resulting in more pressure on social support service budgets. Many families may not realise they will be impacted by the Bedroom Tax.

“Our job has been not only to campaign against the policy but to campaign to make our tenants aware of what is happening. We have done our best to inform them so they can be prepared.”

'It makes no sense whatsoever'

DEPUTY Prime Minister Nick Clegg defended the bedroom Tax today, telling the House of Commons the reduction in benefit would mean more people could successfully apply for social housing as more bedrooms would be available.

But Angela Forshaw, at Liverpool Mutual Homes, says the scheme just doesn't stack up.

A fear at LMH is that the Bedroom Tax will result in tenants moving into the private rented sector, plunging many into deeper financial hardship.

Ironically, tenants switching from social housing organisations to private accommodation could even increase the Government’s Welfare Bill - while swelling the coffers of landlords in the lucrative private sector.

The average LMH rent for a two-bedroom house is £74.74 per week and £80.15 for a three-bed property.

If a tenant downsizes from an LMH-owned three-bed home to a two-bed private rented house they would receive a Local Housing Allowance payment of £109, nearly £30 more.

Nick CleggNick Clegg“It makes no sense whatsoever and has clearly not been thought through in any detail for Liverpool’s population or housing stock,” adds Angela Forshaw.

“Perversely, some tenants living in our homes - all of which are regulated, above the Decent Homes standard and feature modern, energy efficient products - will move into smaller, lower quality private properties and have to pay more rent meaning the Government’s Welfare Bill will actually increase.

“The Local Housing Allowance for a three-bed private sector property is £121 which is £41 more than the average rent we charge."

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34 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousFebruary 13th 2013.

I'm beginning to wonder whether there'll be a revolution. Maybe Mayor Joe is right when he warns of civil unrest and riots. But this government just doesn't seem to be interested in listening.

AnonymousFebruary 13th 2013.

And this is why Cameron and Clegg are the scum of the earth

Tony HydeFebruary 13th 2013.

they may as well evict every inglish family and just put all of them on an iland somewherw and then there will be plenty of room for all the imigrants coming to this country with all there kids

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 14th 2013.

You really dont get it do you?

AnonymousFebruary 24th 2013.

Is this a real comment or satire? Hard to tell.

AnonymousFebruary 13th 2013.

'Iland' Inglish, 'there' instead of 'their', why am I not suprised that we are having to look overseas for educated workers. People in this country amaze me they piss about at school and leave with sod all education and expect someone to come along and offer them all the fruits of a working life's effort when they have made no effort at school and beyond. If you really honestly want to stop the influx of foreign workers then get educated and get a decent job yourself and stop moaning about it you moron!!!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Dawn FeerickFebruary 24th 2013.

Rightly said...how can we call ourselves English when we do.t even understand the basics?

Dawn FeerickFebruary 24th 2013.

I correct my last post...do.t=don't

AnonymousFebruary 13th 2013.

If you are staying here Mr or Ms Anonymous, I'm gonna leeve the Iland with Tony Hide. Prefer bad spellers to those who don't have eyes to see what's going on.

AnonymousFebruary 13th 2013.

His or her rant annoyed me not so much for the atrocious spelling but also for the fact that its an all too common lament from those who basically have never been and never will be arsed about anything that requires effort. While I am well aware of the idea of cheap labour from abroad and how that benefits the 'rich' how in the hell are we ever going to pull ourselves out of this mess if this is the standard of intelligence that we use to argue against 'them'. Education is free in the UK up to the age of 18 (for now) so why not take total advantage of this and make ourselves available for work as the pick of the crop. My eyes are wide open by the way, just find it difficult to tolerate moronic diatribe.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 13th 2013.

Couldn't agree more

AnonymousFebruary 13th 2013.

Racists and Tory fluffers abound!

AnonFebruary 13th 2013.

Ema was scrapped for the poor so children cannot get further education and in April job centre training courses will also be scrapped making it even harder for the young to be employed.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 24th 2013.

GCSEs when they came out were a lot harder than they are now...they're making it harder for youngsters by making degrees so easy to achieve...they mean notthing now...they're the new o'levels...the unis are a business not an educational trust so its in their interest to make them easier to obtain because of the fees they're raking in...think about it!

Paul FowlerFebruary 13th 2013.

question about bedroom tax if you have as i have exhausted all smaller properties and you cannot find one suitable and as after april the rent arrers pile up can the goverment be taken to court for not giving you alternatives ? so come on you budding lawers out there can you help our plight as a recent courtcase re the slave labour case was lost by the gov

AnonymousFebruary 13th 2013.

Whether you agree with the policy or not Housing associations like LMH knew last year the 'Under Occupancy Penalty' was coming and did nothing. Housing Associates in Liverpool have been turning developers away who offer to build 1 & 2 bedroom properties - perhaps its more fun for management to blame the Government and play cheap politics with their tenants incomes than manage award building contracts to Liverpool builders looking to create jobs and apprenticeships.

LMH are a prime example of housing market failure in Liverpool - LMH's 2012 accounts (the latest available) clearly show for the period 2011/2012 the Association missed key performance targets for satisfaction with repairs and rent collection falling below target. LMH hoarded £8m in cash deposits and left £93m undrawn loan facilities that it could have used to build new 1 & 2 bedroom properties.

Interesting to see LMH had money to spare to award their Chief Executive a recession busting pay rise to £143,000 up from £137,500 the year before - more the even the Prime Minister earns!

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 14th 2013.

I agree with the sentiment but a home building project would take more than a year to acomplish, however that doesnt excuse inactivity. could some larger propertys not have been converted to flats in the mean time?

Absinthe & TurksFebruary 15th 2013.

Don't talk rubbish! Houses are built for people to live in and to last for many decades, NOT to indulge the insane and spiteful whims of a politician who will be gone in 2015.

HutchFebruary 15th 2013.

Thanks to politicians being hand-in-glove with the developers who pay into Party funds they are getting away with building flimsy housing with the smallest rooms in Europe and laughing all the way to the bank because tenants and housebuyers have no alternative.
They'd probably be illegal anywhere else.

helpfulFebruary 14th 2013.

They could, of course, lower the rents and reclassify all their properties.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 14th 2013.

The problem with reclasifying a property as something its not to avoide tax or social security rules is its likely to end up before a judge.

AnonymousFebruary 24th 2013.

...like calling a house a shed or a lock up lol

Leon KayFebruary 14th 2013.

the shit has really hit the preverbial fan it about the fan hit the shit

Leon KayFebruary 14th 2013.

i mean it's about time the fan hit the shit

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 14th 2013.

Thanks, that really cleared things up, all makes perfect sense now

Alex KingFebruary 15th 2013.

The goverment wants to save money on housing benefit? Rather than claw back money from people who probably can't find alternative accomodation they would surely be better off capping housing benefit at a rate based on individual circumstances instead. It is no suprise that every slum landlord in the country charges rent based on how much their tennants can claim rather than on any actual value. Very few people are willing to pay their own hard earned cash for such housing and will move as soon as they can... Those claiming benefits on the other hand; often have little choice but to stay in the sub-standard housing that is being payed for by the state. Organisations like LMH may have their faults but at least they try to provide decent homes for a reasonable price instead of the private sectors lowest common denominator for the highet possible profit.

Let's Lynch the LandlordFebruary 15th 2013.

Rather than make people move into overpriced private sector accommodation that the taxpayer will ultimately have to fund, it would make a lot more sense to reintroduce the Fair Rent Act we had before the Tories repealed it in 1988.

Landlords are fleecing tenants and taxpayers alike because they are too greedy, not because housing benefits are too generous.

AnonymousFebruary 24th 2013.

Could always move to a better city, to find work and take the strain off the benefits system instead of complaining...benefits are a 'crutch' not a bleeding vocation, how many on benefits ate striving to better themselves, continuous, daily efforts to seek gainful employment?...most fof those complaining have been drawing benefits for years, some never having worked at all...only complaining now because they'll lose a bit of what they haven't worked for, if it means moving away then do it. Surely its a better feeling to have empty bedrooms and pay no 'tax' on it whilst paying income tax and stamp duty, rather than complaining about putting a bit back into the system you've not added to for years...solely because you have.t looked for work???...I'm not against people on benefits I'm against those who choose a life on them, the able bodied lazy sods who can but won't work, those who have never seen family work for anythink tend not to work for anything

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 25th 2013.

Stamp Duty? I can only dream of finding a bank that will lend me enough to have a hope of paying stamp duty.

Hugh B. ForteFebruary 24th 2013.

No one in their right mind chooses to subsist on miserly benefits and be endlessly harrassed by the DWP if there are proper jobs paying living wages available.

But there aren't any, that's why so many people doing Mcjobs also qualify for benefits, so the taxpayer is subsidising the tight-fisted employer who is paying derisory raes for a few hours per week.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 24th 2013.

Get yourself down to some rough alehouses round and about and you'll see dozens of people who do just that, ducking and diving, living on their wits, bit of knockoff here and there and some work cash in hand.
You're naive to think everyone wants to work and they are all honest grafters who hit hard time....there are plenty of headworking shysters kidding the pants off earnest types like you mate!

Hugh B. ForteFebruary 25th 2013.

Then they aren't in their right minds.

All that ducking and diving and being pestered by the DWP is more effort, worry and stress than doing an actual job. And a job gives you the freedom to organise your life the way you want to live it.

(If it's a proper job paying a living wage, that is.)

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