News article from DPAC 01/04/16
Thanks again to Joe Halewood which published yesterday an article with a new defining judgement of the Upper Tribunal on the bedroom tax. In its judgement, the tribunal has decided what is a bedroom.
What it means practically: Joe estimates that this new decision will concern around 150,000 claimants, about 1/3 of all people affected by the bedroom tax. But what it also means is that each and every single tenant can and should appeal a bedroom tax decision and get their local council to inspect their property to check whether their spare bedroom(s) conform to the definition given by the Upper Tribunal of a ‘bedroom’. The idea is not only to get the local council to revise some bedroom decisions, but also to clog up the system, to make it unmanageable and too expensive.
Joe’s article is here: https://speye.wordpress.com/2016/03/31/bedroom-tax-the-defining-moment-as-ut-decision-makes-it-history/
It contains an explanation of the Upper Tribunal decision plus a template letter for you to use, and send to your local council. That is the kind of direct action which can help bring down the bedroom tax .
This was the original article by Joe Halewoodpublished on the 3rd February 2016.
Many thanks to Joe Halewood (@SpeyeJoe https://speye.wordpress.com/ for another excellent article which is attached below and which he allowed us to republish.What
In a nutshell, the Upper Tribunal has stated that the Housing Benefit Department of your council should have considered all relevant circumstances of any individual case before making a decision. So within one month of receiving your Housing Benefit decision in March 2016, you should send a letter to ask your council to reconsider the decision as you don’t believe all relevant circumstances have been considered in your case. Joe gives you examples in his article of what might not have been considered. See below.
And if you don’t like the outcome, you can write another letter to your council to say you disagree with their decision and require the matter go to the tribunal. It is free and it is legal. Follow all the instructions given by Joe Halewood .
Every one has a right of appeal against the decision and they SHOULD use that right.
It does not mean that the decision will be overturned in your case but it is a direct action to get the government to back down from what is an awful and damaging piece of legislation. If everybody or most people affected appeal, the savings brought by the bedroom tax which are already minimal will disappear, and the bedroom tax will become such an expensive policy that it cannot be defended and sustained.
The bedroom tax will eventually go, but we can make happen earlier rather than later.
Bedroom Tax – Let’s all cost DWP £1.26 billion per year and get rid if the bedroom tax
When 449,151 bedroom tax households get their new bedroom tax decision notices in March this year, which on average cuts their housing benefit by £795.72 per year then ALL 449,151 could appeal this decision which is their right and if they did then each First-tier Tribunal costs central government £2,800.
The bedroom tax cuts saves government £357.4 million [449,151 x £795.72] yet if everyone appealed the decision then 449,151 bedroom tax appeals will cost government £1.26 billion – or 3.5 times what they wish to save from it.
For every £1 allegedly saved, the government would be spending out £3.50 to defend that decision in simple terms.
Every one has a right of appeal against the decision to impose it and they SHOULD use that right.
It costs nothing to appeal and it would severely damage the policy by a form of lawful direct action.
All it takes is a letter with a signature within one month of receiving the HB decision notice and handed in to your local council’s one stop shop or office.
Sample letter to explain the simplicity of this below.
Include the date and your HB reference number and/or NI number and say as an opening paragraph the following.
I request that you reconsider your housing benefit decision dated dd/mm/2016 as I maintain you have not considered all relevant circumstances of my individual case which the Upper Tribunal state you must do as the decision maker in paragraph 54 of the three judge panel in  UKUT 0525 (AAC).
Then you need to say (a) why you maintain a room is NOT a bedroom and then (b) sign it and hand it in.
There are many reasons you could give as to why you maintain the room or rooms upon which you have been deducted bedroom tax are not a bedroom and I cover some of these at the end (also in blue.)
The key issue is that you appeal as part of a direct action protest which is lawful and a legitimate form of protest – else you would not have the right to appeal in the first place – and these appeals all going to the tribunal service would cost central government £2,800 each.
All it takes is one letter with a signature. Your council’s HB department then have to conduct a reconsideration of the decision and say, in writing to you, why they maintain the original decision was correct to impose the bedroom tax.
Then you could email your council’s HB department (this second step does not necessarily need a signature though the first step does, hence a letter) to say you disagree with their decision and require the matter go to the tribunal.
One letter and one email is all it takes.
Is 1 letter and 1 email worth the trouble to potentially save £795.72 per year? Of course it must be and note many of the 449,151 bedroom tax cases could have very legitimate reasons of appeal.
If EVERYONE appealed which I restate is your absolute right, then this would cause an almighty political stink as well as cost the government much more than they could possibly save. So what!
The fact such a direct action protest would bring the matter to a head and do to IDS what he is now doing by using taxpayers money to appeal the Court of Appeal decisions which will cost more to appeal than the government gets if it wins – is example the same principle.
Do unto IDS as he is doing unto you!!
Some valid and arguable reasons why a room is not a bedroom are below and kept deliberately short.
- I maintain that 1 room is not a bedroom as it does not conform to the minimum size requirements in order to be a functional bedroom in accordance with Tudor Walters issues as stated in paragraph  of the above 3JP case
- I maintain that 1 room is not a bedroom as of its unusual design and layout
- I maintain that 1 room is not a bedroom as to put a bed in that room would deny access to a built-in cupboard
- I maintain 1 room is not a bedroom as it has no window
- I maintain that 1 room is not a bedroom as it is not ventilated in the same way as other bedrooms
- I maintain that 1 room is not a bedroom as it is not heated as other bedrooms
- I maintain that 1 room is not a bedroom as it is needed for therapeutic other uses.
- I maintain that 1 room is not a bedroom as it is not of normal height
- I maintain that 1 room has a sloping roof and it not a bedroom
All of the above are very legitimate legal reasons why a room is not a bedroom even if the landlord says it is a bedroom and you only need to add one reason in the original letter and in addition to the opening paragraph as drafted.
There will be and are dozens more reasons that have all been upheld at tribunals or in which the decision has been changed before the matter going to a tribunal.
One such reason which was an example of common sense and good practice was a case where an 8 year old girl and her 5 year old brother were sharing a bedroom which is what the regulations say. Two children of opposite sexes can share a room if both under 10.
Yet the 8 year old girl started her periods and after discussion and consideration the council bedroom tax decision maker agreed that the girl needed a bedroom of here own which she clearly did. Note too that the NHS have this on their website:
Most girls start their periods when they’re about 12, but they can start as early as 8, so it’s important to talk to girls from an early age to make sure they’re prepared before the big day.
So we see the NHS admitting that some girls start their period as young as 8 years of age.
Regrettably many councils believe they do not have the discretion to do this and must stick rigidly with 2 children under 10 must share a room for bedroom tax purposes. However every council decision maker DOES have discretion and they are free to determine in the individual circumstances that the housing need in terms of bedrooms was not 1 for the 8 year old girl and her 5 year old brother, but, as a matter of correctness 2 bedrooms or a bedroom each.
The example above is used because it illustrates what I drafted in the opening paragraph of the letter above in the council decision maker considering all relevant circumstances on a case by case basis which is what paragraph 54 of the legal precedent says. In discussing what is and is not a bedroom and how decision makers approach that question paragraph  says:
We also agree with the Secretary of State that the choice by Parliament of a test using an undefined familiar or ordinary English word supports the view that Parliament intended to allow decision makers to take account of all relevant circumstances on a case by case basis
All relevant circumstances on a case by case basis is discretion for the decision maker and so decision makers – and they are your local councils HB department and no one else – have to consider my points 1 – 9 above and also have to consider the much rarer examples of an 8 year girl starting her periods as I illustrate.
In summary, the most important issue and for me the quickest way to get rid of the bedroom tax is if all 449,151 households who are currently affected write 1 letter and then insist in 1 email their council refers their individual case to tribunal to cost the government £2,800 or so.