In many ways, work on assisting clients, as well as establishing the implications of the bedroom tax, is in its infancy. The main work is yet to come!!
Meantime, LSA has been running, and will continue to run, a number of workshops on the bedroom tax. If you are interested, contact Susan Clark on 0141 354 1274 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or look at our website on www.lsa.org.uk.
In an interesting initiative, a number of Housing Associations and welfare rights’ experts have met informally to discuss casework issues arising from the bedroom tax. They are not discussing a test case strategy as such but, in effect, they will be identifying issues to be tested and sharing the results. This is great news and if anyone is interested, please contact Frank Jarvis on email@example.com.
In an interesting article in TFN (5/7/13), Queen’s Cross Housing Association commented that about 3,300 of QCHA’s tenants have a total household income of no more than £250 a week, and many far less.
They estimate around 75% of their tenants who have been hit by the bedroom tax have not been able to pay. They comment that many of their tenants are living on £150 a week or less and, accordingly, it is not surprising that they can’t find the extra £10 per week they are being asked to put towards their rent.
The Housing Association itself has lost an estimated £10,000 in two months since the bedroom tax was introduced.
The challenge for RSL’s, Law Centres and Advice Agencies will unquestionably increase. So, for that matter, will demands for repeal of this regressive “tax”.
According to the press (for instance, the same edition of TFN), the UK Government has announced that additional protections will be put in place to ensure people do not end up being evicted by RSL’s as a result of Universal Credit. It appears that housing tenants who build up two months’ worth of rent arrears as a result of the move to direct payments to them under Universal Credit will have their rent paid direct to their landlords. This builds on pilots, including one in Edinburgh, which found that rent arrears doubled as a result of direct payments.
This seems a sensible backtrack by the Government but one that will not help tenants with bedroom tax problems or, for that matter, other deductions.
LSA is also about to produce a new publication.
Preventing Eviction for Rent Arrears: a brief non-technical guide describes the current state of law and practice on eviction law and highlights some aspects of the bedroom tax. It is not for experts but may interest lay advisors. It is not a do-it-yourself guide!