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Posts posted by CrashConnoisseur

  1. If you are in social housing and have a spare bedroom. You are unemployed and get full HB.

    If you rent out spare bedroom under rent-a-room scheme would you still get full HB?..

    Not if the lodger is paying rent as that will count as income for benefit purposes. The Rent-a-Room scheme only exempts the rental income from Income Tax.

  2. I think this policy will be affecting me. For I have a 1 bedroom property, and 1 bedroom is too many in 21st century Britain for an adult.

    The LHA under-35 shared room rate only applies to Private Rental Sector tenancies. As you are renting from a Housing Association you are entitled to one bedroom regardless of age.

  3. Bedroom tax calculator

    With effect from April 2013, Housing Benefit will be reduced if you have a spare bedroom in your home....

    Before yet another HPC Housing Benefit myth gets started, I'll point out that this only applies to social housing (Council and Housing Association). A similar restriction already applies to HB claims in the Private Rental Sector (PRS).

  4. Can I drill my own well? Is that allowed?

    Yes, for small rates of abstraction...

    'Discover the benefits of a private water supply Today!':


    Q Do I need a licence?

    The conditions under which a licence is required are if you intend to draw more than 20 tonnes per day.

    20 tonnes is a lot of water and to put that into perspective, a dairy farmer with 400 head of cattle will use less than 20 tonnes under normal conditions. A family of four use about half a tonne per day.

  5. Lewis Page (along with Orlowski) is El Reg's village idiot. I have a feed for the reg, but never click on anything written by Page 'cos you just know it's a flat-earth story.

    Regardless of you considering him to be a "village idiot" which of the facts presented in his analysis do you believe to be wrong? The cost of building a desalination plant like Becton? The volume of water such a plant can desalinate? The cost of desalinating each litre of water? The carbon emissions resultng from desalinating a litre of water? The volume of water consumed by London? The cost of fixing London's leaks per litre of water saved? The case for building more desalination plants to supply half of London's water would seem to be made by these six figures. Maybe there's some other factor that he and we are not aware of and you are? Perhaps drinking desalinated water causes genetic mutations? Maybe it would result in people talking like Captain Haddock?

  6. But if the government pays >£10bn HB for social housing, where does this money actually go???

    Up until this year it went back to the Treasury into the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) from which grants were made to Councils and Housing Associations (for several years the HRA has run a surplus which has been retained by the Treasury). Under the Localism Act rental income is to be retained by Councils who have been loaded up with large amounts of notional debt (the proceeds of Right To Buy having been retained by the Treasury).

  7. Why do the HB bars on this chart add up to less than £10bn when the government tells us the total HB bill is over £20bn a year?

    Edit: To answer my own question, I suppose the rest of it is HB expenditure on social housing.

    Correct. The majority of HB claimants are in social housing (Council and Housing Association tenancies). They get their rent paid in full (less any deductions for income above the applicable amount, savings, or non-dependent residents). Although social rents are lower they are rising faster (by RPI + 0.5% + £2) and almost two-thirds of social tenants claim HB. The LHA rate only applies to Private Sector Rentals (PRS).

  8. ##crap maths warning##

    For example, and forgive me for reducing the argument to an ill thought out approach and a bad source for my numbers. It's just to give you an idea of my reasoning. Not to boulster any argument either way... I'll leave it to better statisticians on this site to crunch the numbers.

    In N1, there are 504 rentals available for 2 beds over £2000pm and only 56 under £2000pm.

    I'll stop you there. I'm not entirely sure which Broad Market Rental Areas London N1 encompasses, but the maximum LHA rate for a 2-bedroom property in Outer North London BRMA is £1,001pm and for Inner North and West London BRMA it's £1,256. Also you'd need to determine if the letting agent and landlord are willing to let to an HB claimant. The majority are not.

    'Local Housing Allowance (LHA) Rates':


  9. Do you have a graph for that which compares the lower end of the private rental market with the HB sector?

    I've not seen one. You might like to email Alex Fenton at Cambridge University who produced the above graph (aff28 AT cam.ac.uk) and ask if the required data is available.

    Given the number of £million+ properties in London that will be let at high levels one might assume the private rental figure is skewed higher by all the expensive properties let out... which renders the comparison irrelevant as no-one renting that feels the effect of the housing benefit floor will be renting particularly expensive properties will they not?

    That's a reasonable assumption. It's what I've been saying since these ill-considered cuts were announced: they will have little if any effect on the mainstream rental market. Any impact will be at the bottom end of the market particularly in areas where there is a large concentration of HB claimants. Here their effect is likely to push rents up. I say that for three reasons:

    1. When LHA was introduced in April 2008 a key principle was that claimants could keep up to £15 a week of any saving if they were able to find or negotiate a rent below the LHA rate (so called Excess Payments). The coalition govenment scrapped that. Now there is no incentive for HB claimants to look for or negotiate sub-LHA rents and there's little incentive for landlords to offer them. Even the government's own Social Security Advisory Committee consider it "likely that landlords will respond by simply raising their contractual rents to the level of the LHA rate."

    2. You can't fit a quart into a pint pot. More HB claimants chasing a reduced pool of affordable properties means landlords gain pricing power over tenants. An undeniable effect of the cuts is to reduce the number of landlords willing to rent to HB claimants just when demand is rising due to the recession and the effects of Right-To-Buy. Again the government's Social Security Advisory Committee consider that this "may have the effect of pushing up rents."

    3. The main 'competition' for sub-LHA rentals isn't from more expensive private sector properties, it's from the social rental sector (Council and Housing Associations). For such social tenancies it's long-standing government policy to raise rents by RPI + 0.5% + £2 (this is one of the main reasons why the HB bill has risen over recent years as RPI has risen) [*]. The majority of HB claimants are in the social sector.

    'The Housing Benefit (Amendment) Regulations 2010 (S.I. No. 2010/2835). The Rent Officers (Housing Benefit Functions) Amendment Order 2010 (S.I. No. 2010/2836). Report by the Social Security Advisory Committee under Section 174(1) of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 and the statement by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in accordance with Section 174(2) of that Act '


    The Committee's Report


    Removing the £15 excess payment from 2011

    4.23 We have also previously reported on a proposal to remove the £15 excess payment and recommended that it be retained. In response to our report the previous administration decided to delay its removal for a year. We supported the retention of £15 excess when we reported last year because we believe that it supported tenant choice and responsibility. We still believe that this underpinning policy is correct and that if the excess is removed it is likely that landlords will respond by simply raising their contractual rents to the level of the LHA rate (this may be even more likely when considered in conjunction with the proposed upper limits for LHA).


    Setting LHA rates at the 30th percentile of rents in each BRMA from October 2011

    4.24 The problems faced by those claiming HB who are trying to access housing in the PRS are well-documented. Landlords' willingness to let to households claiming HB is limited in many areas, particularly since direct payment of the HB to the landlord was made exceptional under the LHA arrangements. Even with the LHA set currently at the median of the rents in each BRMA, not all properties are available to HB tenants and we are concerned that moving to a calculation based on the bottom 30% of rents, will mean more tenants chasing fewer 'affordable' tenancies and may have the effect of pushing up rents. We believe that this may have particularly damaging effect on the market for rooms in shared properties that are subject to the one bedroom shared accommodation rate for people aged under 25, an area of provision that is already under considerable pressure.

    * 'Rent Setting for Social Housing Tenants':


    The Coalition Government is continuing with the rent setting process put in place by the previous government with a revised target convergence date of 2015/16, subject to a maximum annual rent rise for an individual tenant of the retail prices index + 0.5% + £2 per week.

    It would be really great if we could get the data to make a judgement on the effect of HB on rentals and property prices so we can put the argument to bed either way.

    Even if the data was available that seems unlikely. There are far too many people on this forum who have no respect for facts, research, or substantive evidence, preferring instead to base their opinions on prejudice, myth, and misinformation.

  10. The biggest effect of these caps is totally overlooked by the MSM, and that is that the might just slow the rent rises for those living in London.

    On the evidence so far, the biggest effect is likely to be in making people homeless. There are several misguided and uninformed posters on this forum who seem to think that the rental market is dominated by Housing Benefit. It isn't. In London, for example, 82% of rental payments (approx. £7 billion out of £8.5 billion in 2008/9) are paid from other sources of income.


    Source: 'The effects of housing benefit changes on London' [March 2011]:


  11. I don't doubt any of this but being ******** here, I question the 107%. Surely it's 100% maximum, meaning all new HB claimants were working but I got a 'D' in maths, so maybe I'm misunderstanding percentages. Can anyone enlighten me?

    It's a net percentage based on the number of new claims. What it means is that many unemployed claimants are moving into low-paid work, but still need to claim HB. So the total number of HB claimants (both new and pre-existing) who are working is rising slightly faster than the number of new claims. For example, if there were 100,000 new claimants of which half (50,000) were working and 57,000 pre-exisiting claimants moved into work then the net result would be an additional 107,000 HB claimants who are working which would be 107% of the 100,000 new claims. These figures are for illustration purposes; I don't have the actual figures to hand.

  12. speye comment on the matter


    Contains some good analysis...

    'Exporting homelessness – very very bad news for Shapps':


    The Newham Plan holds some cost and operational detail of the exporting homeless proposal. Newham plan to pay a private landlord in Stoke 90% of the (LHA) benefit level and an additional £60pw on top of this. This comes to £142pw / £615pcm for a 2 bedroom property in Stoke and this is considerably less than Newham pay to accommodate these homeless cases in Newham. So this is a cost saving to the benefit bill appears the economic rationale. However what impact will that have in Stoke or wherever else homeless cases are shipped out to?

    Imagine you a private landlord in Stoke where a 2 bed property attracts a market rent of £400 pcm. Get rid of your existing tenant in Stoke, which is easily done in the unregulated private rented market, and replace your £400pcm income with a monthly income of £615. Such a 54% increase in income is a no-brainer and private landlords will be queuing up to accommodate London’s homeless families.

    However, it means for every one of London’s homeless families imported into the PRS in Stoke creates one homeless case in Stoke.

    This has many consequences or impacts:-

    • It creates duties and costs upon Stoke to deal with the new found homeless case in Stoke.

    • It creates increasing demand in Stoke for housing which sees the market rent level increase which always happens when supply remains the same and demand increases.

    • The 8,000 or so HB claimants living in the private rented sector in Stoke face higher rent levels and increases the HB cost there.

    • All other tenants living in private rented accommodation in Stoke, those who are working for example, are also hit with higher rent costs. This is likely to create even more homelessness in the local population as housing costs become more and more unaffordable (107% of new HB claimants are in work), arrears build up, and working in Stoke becomes less worthwhile as people are better off out of work.
  13. If the set on which the median is calculated includes a subset that automatically takes the value of the median,...

    It doesn't. When a Rent Officer calculates LHA rates they are required by law to exclude rents for tenancies which are assisted or influenced by HB. Thus LHA rates are set only by reference to rents paid by non-HB tenants.

    'Rent Officer Handbook - Lettings Information - HB':


    • When they make their decisions under the HB scheme, rent officers are directed by law to “assume that no-one who would have been entitled to housing benefit had sought or is seeking the tenancy”.

    The wording of the legislative framework does not state that rent officers must ignore housing benefit tenancies, but rather determine that the housing benefit element is not affecting or influencing the agreed rent. HB should not be the determining factor in a rent. An obvious example, is where a tenant agreed the rent and previously paid this from his or her own pocket without the assistance of HB.

    There may be neighbourhoods or parts of a locality or BRMA where in the rent officer’s professional judgement HB has not influenced rental levels. If the rents for those tenants known to be assisted by HB are similar or reflect those rents that are not, this may suggest that HB has not influenced rental levels.

    If, in the expert opinion of a rent officer, a tenancy agreement has been made and there was no effect on the agreement by the possibility of the receipt of housing benefit then this figure must constitute a confirmed rent.

    The principle behind the law is to prevent housing benefit from directly leading a market. Under the LHA scheme a tenant is aware of the amount of money (or allowance) that they have to contribute towards the rent of their dwelling. The tenant will make an informed choice, based on a number of factors, including affordability, as to whether or not they should choose a given property. This decision making process will occur regardless of the presence of housing benefit in assisting in the payment of rental liability.

    Therefore, if, in the rent officers opinion, the agreed contractual rent is reasonable for a location then this may be used as confirmed lettings information.

    LHA rates are now frozen to April 2013 from when they will be adjusted in line with CPI.

  14. Give me evidence that HB has pushed up rents?

    'Impact of the changes to Housing Benefit announced in the June 2010 Budget'


    The amounts of HB paid to claimants, as a proportion of their rent, has in fact gradually reduced since 2004, and HB can be seen to be struggling to keep pace with rising rents, even though claimants tend to pay below market average for their housing. This shows that the rising cost of HB in the [Private Rental Sector] is not due to HB pushing rents up, but rather that it is a product of the overall trend of rental inflation in the PRS market. (See table 5).

    'Leading the market? A research report into whether Local Housing Allowance (LHA) lettings are feeding rent inflation.' [september 2011]:


    1. Executive summary


    1.10 [Chartered Institute of Housing] and the [british Property Federation] have collaborated on research to review available data on the LHA to see what if any effect it has on rent inflation. In particular we looked at whether the increase in average rents for LHA claims could be caused by other factors such as changes in the composition of the caseload.

    1.11 Caseload composition can cause an uplift in average rent levels if the proportion of claimants shifts from between regions where rents are relatively inexpensive (such as the North and the Midlands) to more expensive areas (London and the rest of Southern England).

    1.12 Likewise a shift in the composition of the caseload away from single person households towards a higher proportion of families would also cause some uplift in average rents because larger properties are more expensive.

    1.13 A simple comparison of the LHA rates at the start and end dates will show whether rents levels have generally risen or fallen and the size of any caseload effect can be estimated by superimposing the caseload characteristics at the start date onto the LHA levels at the end date.

    1.14 We also tested whether there was any evidence for a relationship between the proportions of the market that is let to housing benefit claimants and LHA inflation by applying a standard statistical test.

    1.15 We found that between November 2008 and February 2010 the number of areas in in which LHA rates had fallen outnumbered those in which there had been an increase by a ratio of more than 2:1.

    1.16 This pattern was repeated in all the regions and if anything was more marked in London and the rest of southern England. This trend was also stronger in the one to three bedroom property sizes that together account for over 85% of all claims.

    1.17 The increase in average rent levels during this period is entirely due to a shift in the relative distribution of the caseload from the North and the Midlands towards London and Southern England. After adjusting for this „caseload effect‟ average housing benefit rent levels fell by 1% (instead of the reported 3% rise).

    1.18 We found no evidence for a relationship between the LHA inflation rates and the proportion of the market that is let to housing benefit tenants.

    1.19 Overall it seems that LHA rates do broadly reflect what is happening in the wider (non-housing benefit) market and this should not be surprising because LHA rates are set from data that excludes housing benefit lettings. There is no evidence to support the contention that the LHA is inflationary or produces a feedback loop.

    1.20 Our findings call into question the Government‟s strategy that it can use its power as a bulk purchaser to force landlords to reduce their rents. If LHA rates do not contribute towards rent inflation then conversely they cannot be used as a tool to force rents down.

  15. Rightmove shows 231 3-bed properties in the price range for a 3-bed property (£390p/w).

    The maximum Local Housing Allowance (LHA) for 3-bed accommodation in Newham is £259.62.

    'Local Housing Allowance rates':


    The table below shows the rates we will use to calculate the maximum possible Housing Benefit (HB) for people affected by the LHA.

    Once you consider the downwards pressure on rents on private landlords once the council stops paying, clearly there are plenty of properties in the price range.

    Clearly you haven't got the courtesy to other HPC members to do even the most basic of research before posting to the forum.

    There are also several hundred 1-beds below £250 p/w.

    The maximum Local Housing Allowance (LHA) for 1-bed self-contained accommodation in Newham is £170 a week.

    Newham is playing politics. The Stoke story is just a ploy to make the government look bad.

    No. It's the people who make that accusation who are playing politics.

  16. If Stoke was a Tory council, I'm sure that Newham would have done by now.

    Nothing to do with Stoke Council. The letter being reported as an example was sent to Brighter Futures, a housing charity based in Stoke-on-Trent.

    Brighter Futures:


    Brighter Futures provides support to those who require extra help to live independent and fulfilled lives. Our customers are people whose life chances including their health, employability and social skills have been impoverished by the impact of living in deprived areas and on low incomes.

    It was one of 1,179 similar letters sent to a wide variety of Housing Associations and charities...

    'Fed warns Newham problems are 'tip of iceberg'' [April 2012]:


    Brighter Futures looks set to turn down the request, although Newham mayor Sir Robin Wales said the council has written to 1,179 organisations in total.
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