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The Floating World

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    The past, present, and future.
  1. The article states that there are four families in central London who have received the maximum LHA rate for some period during the 2010/11 financial year. Since April 2011 the five bedroom LHA rate has been abolished and a cap of £400.00 per week has been placed on 4 bedroom LHA rates. As only four families ever received the maximum 5 bed LHA rate I would suggest that the issue has been over reported for the effect it has on shifting the debate away the majority of ordinary bog standard claims which will be less than £100.00 per week. The four families concerned were most likely housed on a temporary basis in these properties by the Local Authority homelessness service discharging it's statutory duty to house a homeless family presenting a genuine need. Due to the cap the central London LA's will now presumably be either shipping out homeless cases to outer boroughs, or if required to house within borough absorbing shortfalls between private rents and HB from their own budgets on a very short term basis. As an earlier poster noted, if central London LA's constructed any social housing in the last thirty years this would not have been happening.
  2. The graph doesn't show the distribution of HB payments, it shows the rent sample used by the VOA to determine the LHA figure. The VOA do not use rents paid by tenants in receipt of HB. The LHA rate is set at the thirtieth percentile a long way down the distribution of rents. The graph is showing that 70% of rents are higher than the LHA rate used to pay HB.
  3. The figures for Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit are a bit out. You get £20.30 pw for the first child, then £13.40 pw for each subsequent child, thats £47.10 per week, £188.40 every 4 weeks. With Tax Credits you receive a family element of £545.00 PA, then £2,555.00 PA per child, so that would be £631.54 every four weeks. Income Support is £67.50 per week, so £270.00 every four weeks. DLA broadly right if DLA middle rate care (£47.80 pw) and low rate mobility (£18.95) . HB broadly right if in 3 bed privately rented property. That's £27,520.22 p.a., if it is one of the children which is disabled they might receive an additional element of Tax Credit to help with additional expenses, that would be an additional £245.00 PA for a disabled child, a severely disabled child would receive an additional £1,130.00 PA. All benefit rates are already published online at direct gov and it's easy to work out hypothetical situations for benefit entitlement. Benefit entitlement is generally tailored to means and if someone has a long term illness or disabilities or dependants their benefit increases to accommodate these extra expenses. In general the long term recipients of state benefits comprise a third single parents, a third disabled and a third long term sick. The able bodied singletons are not on benefits for long unless there is a major recession. For a fuller idea of average entitlements you would need to get at the DWP statistics which are published on their website.
  4. Remember guitarman that income is not for a single man, but to support four people, it won't really go that far. Most working people wouldn't be able to survive more than a few months with an income that low.
  5. I'd like a better breakdown of the family income. The only possible way I've been able to get a figure close to the amount you state as being their income from benefits alone is to assume that every single member of the household is severely disabled and gets the maximum award of DLA (care component and mobility rate), that both adults get support group ESA at the single rate and Child Tax Credit, Child Benefit. It is extremely unlikely that that is the case for more than a handful of cases all over the UK. A more typical family (2 parents, 2 kids) would qualify on a weekly basis for £105.95 JSA, £108.85 Child Tax Credit, and £33.70 Child Benefit a total of £248.50 per week, £1076.83 per month. Without a clear idea of the circumstances of the family being discussed it's impossible to really get a grip on why they are receiving so much. As I said above the only way I've even got close is by assuming they are all severely disabled. Also the Housing Benefit income seems too high for a three bed property, I don't know which SE affluent coastal town which you refer to, but Brighton & Hove will pay a maximum of £229.62 per week, £995.02 per month for a three bed property, and their maximum LHA rate is £323.08 pw, £1400.00 PCM. Which is somewhat short of £1600.00 per month. I'd advise anyone trying to get a better view on the range of benefits available and the rates paid to check out direct gov, it's all pretty simply laid out.
  6. From what I can glean the former student halls have been converted into studio flats for rental income by a developer. They are on the market for £675.00 PCM. There appear to be two flats per floor, so ten per town house. Gross income of £81,000.00 per annum.
  7. Holland Road has always been like that. The five/six town houses next to what used to be the Wick Inn were student halls of residence until they were sold off a couple of years ago, but the rest of the block has aways been one bed flat, bedsit land. I lived in Lansdowne Place for nine years and love it round there but it's always poised on the edge of utter shabbiness/ gentrification, it just reflects the prevailing economy. There are lots of old Brighton/ Hove landlords in the area who have been renting out those places for decades with minimal investment, they are totally unaffected by everything going on at the moment owning these places outright and don't care who rents them as long as they can pay the rent. As there are so many bedsits/ flats in such a concentrated area you can get a really bizzare mix, down from London types who just spent £220,000.00 on a converted one bed flat, next door to an old granny who has been there for 40 years having bought their flat for £1,000.00, next to the former scaghead on IB with a methadone scrip getting HB to pay for their bedsit, above the flat of students who party ALL THE TIME, next door to the couple who've just had a baby which cries all night. Soundproof these places aren't. Good place to live when young, unattached - not so good with kids.
  8. Don't bother wasting your time or that of anyone else. Most of the information you seek is probably in the public domain anyway if you just look around for it. Start here with figures for the last 13 years for every local authority in the UK. http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd4/index.php?page=hbandctb_expenditure You'll probably find nearly everything you need on the DWP website.
  9. Your Dad probably won't be able to receive Pension Credit until he is 61 due to the changes in Women's retirement age affecting the qualifying pensionable age to receive Pension Credit. He'll have to claim JSA in the meantime which is approximately half the level of Pension Credit. You need to check on the pensionable age of a women born on the same date as him to work out when exactly he'll qualify from. I don't think that he'll be able to draw down on his private pension and the DWP won't be able to force him to - so it shouldn't affect his entitlement until he starts to receive it.
  10. LHA's are based on the local property market in privately rented property in Broad Rental Market Areas (defined geographical areas which have broadly similar rental markets). The only way to establish what the local market rates are is to gather information from the main people organising the local market, which are letting agents. They do gain info. from other sources such as private letting notices, newspaper letting notices, etc. but as the majority of the market is conducted via letting agents this tends to be the main source of info. How else could you establish a market rent without looking at the market? In my opinion the main aim of the Rent Officer and VOA for the last fifteen years has been to keep rents low and if anything I believe they have skewed the data to bring in lower LHA rates to try to exert drag on the market via Housing Benefit. With regard to the VOA and by extension the Rent Officer Service, they used to have a local service in every reasonably large town. As far as I know the offices have been rationalised over the last five years, but Rent Officers are still based throughout the country and work remotely with central admin being handled in the Newcastle area. Given the immense rise in House Prices over the last fifteen years, the rise in rents over the same period is not comparable. House prices in Brighton ( a hotspot admittedly) increased by 400% over that period, in the same period rents rose by 60%. Inflation alone over that period should account for 40% of the increase.
  11. LA's are not paid to gather information about the private rented sector so they don't do it for anyone. The VOA is paid to gather this information and have an extensive network of Rent Officers throughout the country who spend all day doing that. As has been pointed out the Rent Officers are prohibited from using data about rents for which the claimant is currently receiving Housing Benefit. There are two small provisos that in some circumstances the LA can be a source of data. These are quite clearly described in the VOA guidance. They are: 1. Rents where the LA acts as a commercial landlord (very rare in my experience) 2. Data can be provided by the LA about rents in HB cases where the claim was unsuccesful ( in other words a person makes a claim but fails to qualify for one reason or another). As there is currently no active reporting mechanism to ensure that no. 2 actually is a source of data, you can safely assume that no L.A. is the source of any information about rents to the VOA. As pointed out above that is not to imply there is no effect from Housing Benefit in the current rental market, just that L.A.'s cannot seek to influence the decisions which the VOA makes by providing manipulated data.
  12. HB and LHA were already set at 50th percentile of market rents until this year, since April they have now gone down to 30th percentile. This means that 70 percent of privately rented properties in any area will already charge more than is available to any Housing Benefit claimant. Most properties are already out of reach of the average Housing Benefit claimant.
  13. If you look at the data which can be obtained from the LA it concerns properties which they let at market price (outside the usual council housing channels, therefore acting as a commercial landlord) and unsuccessful Housing Benefit claims (not actual live claims). That is why I commented on the list of data sources below the link. Local Authorities do not provide lists of rents to the VOA from their HB caseload.
  14. Here is a list of data sources used by Rent Officers and by extension in the determination of LHA: http://www.voa.gov.uk/corporate/publications/Manuals/RentOfficerA-Z/l-roh-lettings-information-sources.html#P76_776 You will note that only unsuccessful Housing Benefit claims can be used as a source of data regarding rents, although it says that steps are being taken to gather this information I know that this does not happen. The use of data from live Housing Benefit claims is not allowed so that Housing Benefit claims do not distort the market data.
  15. Local Authorities have zero influence and do not provide the data required to determine LHA rates. Here is a link concerning the LHA methodology: http://www.voa.gov.uk/corporate/RentOfficers/index.html As the LHA is meant to reflect the actual market in private rented properties the data has to be provided from the market. A marketplace which is largely run by estate agents and professional landlords. LHA restrictions on private rents reflect the older practice of Rent Officer referral and restriction of Housing Benefit which was put into place following the de-regulation of the rental market in 1989. Prior to that there was no problem with HB expenditure rising above inflation as rents were regulated. There are some rents from tenancies dating from before 1989 which are still regulated and are considerably below current market levels. De-regulation was explicitly intended to lead to higher rents as the argument was made at the time that rent controls unfairly restricted economic competition and as a result there were no incentives to the market to increase the supply of privately rented property.
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