Please could I be informed, under the freedom of information act, how many Brentwood tenants have been affected by the loophole in the introduction of the under occupation tax and what will be the financial cost to this council?
We have not been able to identify individual claimants who have been affected due to the nature of the drafting error in the regulations that introduced social sector size criteria (bedroom tax / removal of spare room subsidy). The reason we have not been able to identify the claimants affected is because our Housing Benefit system does not go back to 1996. As there has been significant publicity surrounding this drafting error a number of claimants have approached the Council. In these cases we have been able to work with them to match their details against their Council Tax records at their specific request.
We are currently investigating the possibility of a wider data matching exercise and our software supplier is working on a tool to assist with this. This will aid the identification of any claimants who may be affected by the drafting error. Once identified, we would then need to investigate the circumstances of the individuals concerned because the drafting error is limited to people who have been or can be treated as continuously entitled to Housing Benefit from or before 1/1/1996.
Other than staff time and potential software costs (in the region of £1,000), there are no direct financial implications for the local authority as properly paid housing benefit payments are subsidised at the rate of 100%.