1 Jun 2014

Why is Wirral Council persecuting victims of the Bedroom Tax?

In the recent local election campaign, a prominent feature of my opponent's literature was his party's opposition to the bedroom tax and Labour's commitment to abolish it if it wins the next general election.

All well and good but not much use to anyone already hit by the bedroom tax or currently facing eviction.

But, given the above, you would at least expect that a Labour-run council would do everything it legally can to assist victims of the bedroom tax and look sympathetically upon those entering appeals.

Liverpool Council, for example, adopted an early position against actively contesting bedroom tax appeals by not sending a presenting officer to tribunals.

Across the Mersey, however, things are very different.

Take the case outlined yesterday in the SPeye blog. A disabled social housing tenant from Birkenhead clearly won her appeal against the bedroom tax on the straightforward grounds that two of her so-called "bedrooms" are below 50 square feet. One of these rooms is only 36.5 square feet.

Rooms below 50 square feet cannot be classified as bedrooms. In the private sector it is illegal to rent out such a room as a bedroom.

So, that should be that. The tenant is exempt from bedroom tax and due a refund for monies already paid.

But not in Wirral where the council has written to this tenant and is seeking permission to appeal this judgement. In other words, Wirral MBC does not accept that a room of 36.5 square feet should not be classified as a bedroom.

Apart from the moral issues involved, there are also important financial issues. How much is it costing to contest these appeals? Why is Wirral doing so when it is clearly the remit of the Department for Work and Pensions?

And, is Wirral exposing itself to judicial review by classifying social housing property rooms under 50 square feet as bedrooms when it is illegal to do so in the private sector?

How Labour councillors in Wirral justify their authority's stance is up to them but their response to date has been lame to say the least. I take very seriously the impact the bedroom tax and wider welfare changes are having on the community I represent and will do everything I can to support those affected. I welcome all advice in this respect.

In particular, the Green Party continues to give strong support to the Wirral Campaign Against the Bedroom Tax and supports its drive to secure 1,000 appeals against the bedroom tax.

Anyone in Wirral seeking advice about the bedroom tax should ring 07956 458 331 or contact me directly.

1 comment:

  1. Wirral Council has a long history of squandering public money hand over fist on hideously misconceived legal crusades.

    Here, they're really going the extra mile. And for this they deserve to be roundly condemned and their actions broadcast in detail to every corner of the land.

    They're oh so willing to condemn central government at every opportunity for treating them harshly compared to Tory councils in the south (for which they have some justification) but this is the other side of the coin - and a window into the abusive heart of the beast, which remains diseased and self-serving and focussed upon a crazed desire to manage its own reputation regardless of the adverse impact on vulnerable people.

    The AKA investigation had an opportunity to investigate councillors (those largely behind such bizarre conduct) but backed down - I think because it could have affected their own future income streams - they already had a prior affiliation with the council, and therefore, fortunes which will have rode upon the outcome of their own findings.

    The LGA whitewash has since granted the abusers renewed scope to ignore the public interest and to continue spiralling down into the gutter. Being amoral, they won't see or feel that, but the people they represent certainly will.

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