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Brentwood Borough Council

FOI 6458

Bedroom Tax

Request

Throughout this request, ‘council housing’ specifically includes housing owned by ALMOs or other council-owned property ownership/management subsidiaries.

All councils should respond to questions 1 and 2. Councils that no longer have any council housing stock (as defined above) should only respond to questions 1 and 2. Councils that do still have council housing stock should respond to all seven questions.

1.       Could the council consider a tenant’s eviction due to arrears where s/he is affected by the bedroom tax (be it council housing or a registered social landlord) to be evidence that the tenant made him/herself intentionally homeless?

2.       Please provide any information the council has either collected independently or received from registered social landlords since 1st April 2013 regarding the impact of the bedroom tax on rent arrears among tenants of any registered social landlord(s). Any such information, if sent by RSLs, would probably have been sent to the council’s Revenue and Benefits department, or to the council’s Housing department. This excludes information pertaining to or identifying individual tenants/households.

3.       Please state the most recent confirmed number of house holds in council housing in the local authority area that are affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ (having both been assessed as under-occupying, and falling outside exempt groups such as pensioners). Please state the date to which the data is correct.

4.       Please state the number of households in council housing in the local authority area that are affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ that are in arrears on their rent. Please provide the most recent data available and state the date to which the data is correct. If possible within the section 12 cost limit, please additionally state how many of these particular households (i.e. those affected by the bedroom tax who are currently in arrears) were already in arrears on 1st April 2013 (notwithstanding that such historical arrears may have since increased).

5.       Please detail the number of households in council housing in the local authority area that are affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ that are in arrears on their rent by respectively: (a) from £50-£99.99; (b) from £100-£499.99; (c) £500 or more. Please provide the most recent data available and state the date to which the data is correct.

6.       Please state the number of households in council housing in the local authority area that are affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ against which the council has commenced eviction proceedings (a) between 1st April 2013 and 30th April 2013; (b) since 1st May 2013, due to unpaid (or late-paid) rent. If the date breakdown in (a) and (b) is not available, please just provide data since 1st April 2013.

7.       Does the council have a policy not to evict tenants (including as a ‘last resort’) who fall into arrears due to the bedroom tax?

Regarding question 1 of this request – while councils would have to prove ‘intentional homelessness’ on a case-by-case basis, this question is asking whether the council would regard such eviction as evidence of intentional homelessness, subject to proof. It is a question of policy.

Regarding question 2 of this request – if the council’s view is that to locate any such correspondence or information would exceed the sec tion 12 cost limit, please state under section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act that the information is not held and respond to the remainder o f the request, rather than applying section 12 to the entire request.

Regarding question 6 of this request – if the council is unable to calculate the number of eviction proceedings that have commenced specific ally on the grounds of unpaid rent, please provide a figure for all evict ion proceedings that have commenced against households affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ since 1st May 2013.

Also regarding question 6 – ‘commencing eviction proceedings’ means the initiation of formal eviction proceedings. For example: the sending of a notice seeking possession for English and Welsh secure tenancies; the sending of a notice of proceedings for Scottish tenancies, etc. The sending of notice should generally be considered to be the commencing of eviction proceedings for the purposes of this request.

 

Response

Could the council consider a tenant’s eviction due to arrears where s/he is affected by the bedroom tax (be it council housing or a registered social landlord) to be evidence that the tenant made him / herself intentionally homeless?
We would form a view in the light of all our inquiries about that particular case. We have no general policies which seek to pre-define circumstances that do or do not amount to intentional homelessness.


Please provide any information the council has either collected independently or received from registered social landlords since 1st April 2013 regarding the impact of the bedroom tax on rent arrears among tenants of any registered social landlord(s)

Our estimates are that approximately 50 registered provider tenants are also affected.


Please state the most recent confirmed number of households in council housing in the local authority area that are affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ (having both been assessed as under-occupying, and falling outside exempt groups such as pensioners). Please state the date to which the data is correct.
The Council has estimated 177 tenants in its own stock affected by the size criteria as at 1 April 2013


Please state the number of households in council housing in the local authority area that are affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ that are in arrears on their rent. Please provide the most recent data available and state the date to which the data is correct. If possible within the section 12 cost limit, please additionally state how many of these particular households (i.e. those affected by the bedroom tax who are currently in arrears) were already in arrears on 1st April 2013 (notwithstanding that such historical arrears may have since increased).
As at 14th July 2013, 126 Local Authority households in Brentwood affected by the size criteria were in arrears with their rent. 42 of these were already in arrears on 1st April 2013.


Please detail the number of households in council housing in the local authority area that are affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ that are in arrears on their rent by respectively: (a) from £50-£99.99; (b) from £100-£499.99; (c) £500 or more. Please provide the most recent data available and state the date to which the data is correct.
Rent Arrears of the 126 mentioned in question 4 above, by cash band:-

(£’s) Number

0.01 - 49.99 = 46
50.00 – 99.99 = 30
100.00 – 499.99 = 41
500.00+ = 9


Please state the number of households in council housing in the local authority area that are affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ against which the council has commenced eviction proceedings (a) between 1st April 2013 and 30th April 2013; (b) since 1st May 2013, due to unpaid (or late-paid) rent. If the date breakdown in (a) and (b) is not available, please just provide data since 1st April 2013.
Between 1st April and 30th April 2013 one Notice for rent arrears was served to a household affected by spare room subsidy.

A further 7 Notices for rent arrears have been issued to households affected by the size criteria since 1st May 2013.

Does the council have a policy not to evict tenants (including as a ‘last resort’) who fall into arrears due to the bedroom tax?
No