Thursday 15 December 2011

We Won Something!!!

Last night, Peers voted against the government to support Lord Best's amendment on housing benefit and spare rooms. There's a very good summary here:

The were defeated by a majority of 68!! 72 Crossbenchers, 14 LibDems and even one Conservative! (Lord Newton of Braintree, we salute you!)

Here are the Lib Dem Peers who voted against the government :

  • Eric Avebury
  • Brian Cotter
  • Archy Kirkwood (former Chief Whip in the Commons)
  • Veronica Linklater
  • Ken Macdonald
  • Sue Miller (former Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson)
  • Roger Roberts
  • Ros Scott (former Party President)
  • John Shipley
  • Trevor Smith
  • Matthew Taylor (former chair of the party’s Campaigns and Communications Committee)
  • Celia Thomas
  • Jenny Tonge
  • Geoff Tordoff (former Chief Whip in the Lords)
Ben Stoneham abstained.

In plain terms, it means people in social housing with a spare room cannot be forced to downsize and the government have to go away and come up with a better plan. This is particularly important for disabled people who may have had adaptions made to their homes to live independently or who need a second room for a carer. 

The Lib Dems originally stopped the government from cutting housing benefit by 10% for the long term unemployed  so this is clearly an issue they are prepared to fight on. It's too early to tell whether this is just an extension of their commitment to protect tenants, or part of a broader willingness, to take policies within the welfare reform bill on merit. 

That's all we ask, after all. That EVERY policy, every proposal is discussed on MERIT and peers vote accordingly. 

Either way, it's a welcome change :)

**Update : The Research Fund raised a spectacular £1,900 so far in less than 24 hours. Please keep donating and spreading the word, thank you so much for your generosity. 


  1. Any word on private tenants paid for by HB in the same situation, as in how many there are and whether this new ruling would apply to them? The argument seems to be solely about council tenants but surely in some areas a whole lot of HB tenants must be renting privately due to lack of council homes. I'm wondering if we aren't all missing something here.

  2. Well, Bill, that's right. I got confirmation that it IS just social tenants, but none yet on where private tenants relying on HB stand.

    I don't know the number in private rented yet either. Lots still to clarify.

  3. it can be overturned when it goes back to the house though.

  4. Anon @ 09:36 I think you will find that this is what the government is anticipating, Freud yesterday announced an additional £30 funding to local authorities to pay DHPs to cover the shortfally in HB for two groups, including those in "significantly adapted" properties:

    "14 December 2011 – Additional £30m for local authorities to support tenants in adapted accommodation and foster carers

    An additional £30 million will be made available for local councils to help around 40,000 households including disabled people and foster carers living in the social rented sector Lord Freud the Minister for Welfare Reform has announced today.

    The additional money will be added to the Discretionary Housing pot to support claimants living in significantly adapted accommodation and to help foster carers who are in between placements of foster children when the new social sector size criteria measures come into force in 2013... "

  5. Private tenants get the applicable LHA rate for the size of property they are seen to need. They are expected to make up the shortfall themselves.
    This also makes downsizing difficult, because you have to find a deposit, 1 months rent, and fees before you can move. You also have to re-apply for HB and CTB.

  6. Do MPs still get expenses? Can they claim for a flat in London? Do they have a spare room? Do they have the balls to live with someone of a different ilk, like a benefit claimant? Same with the Lords... There's just no thought involved any more. Lord Fraud wrote the draft bill in a week with no knowledge of the benefit system. He's also got no idea of the mental anguish people are going to suffer as a result of his creation. Take a 32 year old man with mental health problems. If he's chucked onto JSA from DLA and then to top it off has the lowest rate of housing benefit, how will he cope? 1. He'll be fine. He'll get a job and find accommodation, no problem. 2. He'll crash and burn. It's all bad whichever way I look at it in a wider context. Truth be told, were not even close to understanding the problems that are going to occur as a result of this bill. Is no one thinking that "CRIME" will go up? You know the sort of crimes. Not being able to pay your bills. Stealing to feed your kids. Stealing to feed and cloth yourself. I can find around 180 jobs in my area that have been advertised on the JC Plus web site. 3000+ people are unemployed in the area. Cut the (govt)bills, smash the unemployed and sick into the gutter.

  7. Those of a certain age will remember Tony Newton as the Minister that introduced DLA.I am not certain of his attitude to the "reform" to PIP but given he is willing to go against his Party he maybe a useful ally.

  8. Patronising bloody uncaring govt social engineering.HOW many bloody MPs claim expenses fro second homes and in effect they are using social housing as we ALL bloody pay for those homes.They shouldnt belong to them they are robbing us blind claiming for this and fiddling that and having the bloody cheeck to say its thier entitlements in lieu of salary.WELL read this ...if you cant manage on 65 grand a year dont turn up monday...get a job somewhere else.TRY it on jsa eh!!! NO didnt think so.How many spare rooms have you all got that we pay for that YOU should be renting out to offset what WE pay for.DOWNsizing should apply to YOU all seeing as we are all in this together.
    What a bunch of hypocites.FREUD you should be ashamed but you arent.
    AS for Cam Clegg and the Nasty coalition ...just wait until the next election ...and new bloody labour too red purple or whatever colour you rally under you will be in for a surprise too...Once all the bad news bites next year in terms of job losses and the deeper financial crisis you are all ****ed...YEP SACKED....

  9. I'm currently living with my partner in my family home of 3 bedrooms...since my children left a good while ago i have a spare room...but i was lucky that this house has been adapted for my needs...wetroom,stair lift, ramp.Ironically , should i move to a 1/2 bedroom flat or bungalow(especially sheltered) it would cost over £100 a month more...I do not get full hb and could not afford to move.

  10. I am pleased that this is a start of some sensible decisions at last. Time will tell how the government try and squirm out of it.

    A friend of mine is being hit with the new changes to the housing benefit age allowance. He lives in a tiny bedsit with a seperate toilet. He has many mental health problems but failed his esa medical so has ended up on JSA.

    He is 31 and as of April his housing benefit allowance will be deducted by £180 per month due to his age !!!.

    He went into our housing office and asked for help and advice as he only gets £65 per wk to live on. There advice was find someones floor he can stay on until hes 35. Then they will pay his rent again fully !!!

    How can the government who are all living in absolute luxury with all their properties and expenses treat people like this in a so democratic country. He is so worried he is contemplating suicide through the worry.

    He has looked for cheaper properties and his is the cheapest. He has the tiniest of places, no heating, windows that fall out when its windy, and a tempremental shower. It either burns him or freezes him to death. Cant see Cameron putting up with this style of accomodation, but its ok for everyone else !!

    Sadly this will be a common problem for anyone under 35 in the private rented sector. I am sure homelessness will rise and so will crime. How can they expect people to spend money when they are living on £65 to cover bills and food.

    I cannot believe how this non elected government is destroying our very basic human needs. Surely everyone should be entitled to have a home where they can feel safe from the world. It seems that everyday there is another new evil policy being created by this government.

    Anyone who voted these evil people into power should hold their heads in shame

  11. I am a live in carer for my fiance, who suffers with a mental illness (schizophrenia)and also bad feet and back problem. We have moved around in different flats, privately rented places, with damp cold mice, and also had to live in a houisng association house for 5 years with a terrible neighbour. We managed to find a house exchange, and would like to make it our home. All this talk about cutting housing benefit it awful, and under occupancy. We have a 2 bedroomed house, and I want to make sure that my fiance is still living there if anything happens to myself (death). It really has upset her all this government talk.hope someone can understand.

  12. Anyone who voted these evil people into power should hold their heads in shame

    indeed molly they should the trouble is that they have never had it so good and through their selfishness they cant see the damage that are doing to the minority of the country


    Someone asked about MPs...

  14. Well done! Thanks for stealing my hard earned money!

  15. I think there is a case for allowing under-occupancy for social sector tenants where there is a demonstrable need, such as where very expensive adaptations have been made or where people are foster carers. But that is what Discretionary Housing Payments are there for - the difficult cases.

    But the general rule - that those in social housing, or on housing benefit, should face the same kind of decisions as those in low paid work - sounds fair to me. I am in my late twenties, on an average income, and I would find it impossible to rent somewhere on my own with spare rooms. Why should I be treated differently?

    I repeat - there are of course cases where exceptions should be made. And I doubt the government has set aside enough DHP for that. I also seriously doubt there is the right housing available to match the need, which will be unfair when someone wants to downsize but the council can't facilitate it.But the general principle seems fine to me.

    There are of course other options than people moving. The shortfall can be covered, for example, by under-occupyers letting out their spare room(s) to a lodger. This is exactly the same kind of decision taken by those renting themselves, or paying a hefty mortgage.

    Clearly some of this is about cuts, pure and simple. I don't support that. But some of it is also about fairness, and that I do support.