What our social landlords are saying…

We’ve had a look at the messages Brent social landlords are putting out around the bedroom tax and other benefit changes and linked to them below. If you’re a social landlord or council tenant and you have received a notification you’re willing to share, please email us at brenthousingaction@gmail.com – We’re interested in finding out what landlords are advising, and if you’ve found their communications, helpful, unhelpful or just plain scary.

One common feature of the below is a real lack of specificity when it comes to telling people when certian changes might affect them, or what arrangements are in place in particular boroughs. We all know social landlords operate across wide areas, but it is too much to ask that specific information is provided for Brent, Reading or Luton residents?

If we’ve missed out a landlord, please let us know.

Genesis Housing Group (formerly known as Paddington Churches Housing Association) Bedroom Tax Page – fairly clear, simple guidance, but doesn’t really present any options around support or challenging decisions*.

Genesis Housing Group Benefit Cap page – Gives quite a lot of information well broken down, and signposts to some advice, although so real sense that much can be challenged.

*Genesis does have a separate page detailing what you can do – while it doesn’t mention anything around challenge, it does present a range of ideas from speaking to a credit union to getting a Discretionary Housing Payment. It also states that Genesis doesn’t want residents to lose their homes and will try and support them. It additionally notes that to receive Universal Credit you will need a bank account, and advises residents who have been receiving benefits in other ways of how to set one up.

Catalyst Bedroom Tax Page – Also fairly clear, but doesn’t link either to support or to a benefits calculator, and uses the phrase ‘more bedrooms than you actually need’ despite acknowledging that there are circumstances where you may have a need for a room and still be charged.

Catalyst Benefit Cap Page – Fairly useless as while it gives the basics it doesn’t explain when it might affect Brent residents nor the process for applying for a discretionary housing payment.

Network Stadium Bedroom Tax page – Despite hearing a lot of bad things about the letters Stadium have sent out, one of the first things that this guide says it that the cap only applies if you are of working age. It also gives a ‘real life’ example of how the tax might affect people, and gives a range of numbers you can call for advice. Still no sign of challenge, but a signpost towards DHP.

Network Stadium Benefit Cap page – Fairly full information that links to a benefit calculator – although no case study and no recent update to take account of the roll out.

Paradigm bedroom tax page – Interestingly, all the social landlords above have named their pages ‘how many bedrooms do you have’, or ‘bedroom tax’. Paradigm goes for ‘Under-occupation’. The fairly miserable-sounding language continues throughout, but they do attempt support by linking to homeswap schemes, ‘find your local council’ pages and a benefit calculator. Surprise, Surprise, no mention of challenge.. again.

Paradigm Benefit Cap page – whooo! the first one to even make mentions of different arrangements in different boroughs, and again links to some useful support. Unfortunately still no sense that any of this is resistable. Both Pardigm pages also include a sentence warning residents that failure to pay the charges may result in them losing their home.

InnisFree – A relatively small provider, although with quite a number of properties in Brent, Innisfree come out low for actual information on the impact, but high on supporting their tenants. Both their Twitter feed and their website are full of opposition to the changes and offers to work with residents to support them.

Apna Ghar – Provides some housing in Brent, and seems to champion disabled and vulnerable communities – but the only information they seem to have online is very generic and doesn’t seem to look at the specifics of how it might impact on those communities

All of the above are more up to date that the equivalent Brent Housing Partnership page, which hasn’t been updated for more than a year and doesn’t even contain information on the council’s own support and incentives.

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