Housing Benefit and Universal Credit (Size Criteria) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2017 (The "Bedroom Tax")

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Brighton and Hove City Council should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

Dear Brighton and Hove City Council,

On 24 March 2017 the DWP issued a revised Housing Benefit Circular A3/2017 with regard to the Housing Benefit and Universal Credit (Size Criteria) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2017 that cover important information concerning Local Authority implementation of the “Bedroom Tax”
This circular was unusual in that it contained an apology for issuing misleading original guidance that had been identified as such by the Supreme Court.
An “Urgent Bulletin” (HB U3/2016) was sent to Local Authorities on 9 November 2016 warning of this previous error by the DWP and that guidance would be issued in due course.
The main result of the Supreme Court Ruling is that a number of households who were judged not to meet the Qualifying conditions for an extra bedroom were discriminated against. This includes cases that were decided upon by “Decision Makers” of Brighton and Hove City Council.

Could you please inform me of what action B&HCC has taken to rectify the results of this initial incorrect guidance from the DWP to ensure that the Council meets the requirements of the Supreme Court Ruling?
Have those residents who have been incorrectly subject to the “Bedroom Tax” been contacted including those refused Discretionary Housing Payments and those forced to move home?
What arrangements have been made to recompense those affected?
If nothing has yet been done what action is proposed?
Have Members of the Housing and New Homes Committee been informed of the effect of the Supreme Court Ruling?

Yours truly,

Steve Parry

Freedom Of Information, Brighton and Hove City Council

Thank you for submitting your Freedom of Information (FOI) request to
Brighton & Hove City Council.

 

We will respond to your request within 20 working days as stipulated under
the Freedom of Information Act (2000).

 

Regards,

 

Information Governance Team

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Dear Freedom Of Information,

By law I should have received a response to my request regarding 'Housing Benefit and Universal Credit (Size Criteria) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2017 (The "Bedroom Tax").'

Could you please provide an indication of when I can expect a response to this urgent and important issue.

Yours truly

Steve Parry

Freedom Of Information, Brighton and Hove City Council

Thank you for your email. This mailbox is managed during the working hours
of 8:00am to 4:00pm on Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays). Emails
received outside of these hours will usually be processed during the next
available working day.

 

If you are submitting a Freedom of Information Request (FOI) then the
Council has a legal obligation to respond no later than 20 working days
following the date of receipt.

 

You can find more information about the FOI process on the Council’s
website through this link;

 

[1]Freedom of Information – Brighton & Hove City Council  

 

Regards,

 

Information Governance Team | 01273 295959 | [2]Brighton & Hove City
Council

Notice to recipient:
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communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this
communication in error please notify the sender immediately.
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You can visit our website at [3]http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk

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Freedom Of Information, Brighton and Hove City Council

 

Please find set out below the information in response to the above request
FOI 7908:

 

Could you please inform me of what action B&HCC has taken to rectify the
results of this initial incorrect guidance from the DWP to ensure that the
Council meets the requirements of the Supreme Court Ruling?

 

Have those residents who have been incorrectly subject to the “Bedroom
Tax” been contacted including those refused Discretionary Housing Payments
and those forced to move home?

 

What arrangements have been made to recompense those affected?

 

If nothing has yet been done what action is proposed?

 

Response:

 

This information requested is currently in the process of being drafted
and the Councils position finalised.  Therefore the Council believes that
this information is exempt under section 22 of the Act – future
publication.

 

Public interest Test

 

Section 22 is subject to a public interest test. The public interest test
starts from a positon of expectation to disclose the information. In this
case the Council balanced the request to see whether it would be in the
public interest to disclose or withhold the information. 

 

We do not believe that early release of the information as requested would
inform the public debate and in fact may well have a negative effect, in
that incomplete information would be released into the public domain.

 

 

Have Members of the Housing and New Homes Committee been informed of the
effect of the Supreme Court Ruling?

 

This information is exempt under section 21 – information  reasonably
accessible by other means.  All minutes of the  are available here
[1]https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/mgC...

 

 

 

Should you have any further queries about this request, please contact us
via email to [2][Brighton and Hove City Council request email] quoting the
reference number given above.

 

If you are not satisfied with the handling of your request, you can appeal
(Internal Review) within 2 months of the completed FOI. Write to:

 

Freedom of Information Appeals

Brighton & Hove City Council

ICT 4th Floor

Bartholomew House

Bartholomew Square

Hove BN1 1JE

[3][Brighton and Hove City Council request email]

 

If you are still not satisfied after your Internal Review has been
investigated, you can escalate your complaint to the Information
Commissioners Office. The contact details are:

 

The Information Commissioners Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire SK9 5AF

Helpline: 0303 123 1113 (local rate) or 01625 545 745 (national rate)

e-mail: [4][email address]

Website: [5]www.ico.org.uk

 

 

Re-use of Public Sector Information and Copyright Statement

Where information has been supplied, you are advised that the copyright in
that material is owned by Brighton & Hove City Council and/or its
contractor(s) unless otherwise stated. The supply of documents under the
Freedom of Information Act does not give the recipient an automatic right
to re-use those documents in a way that would infringe copyright, for
example, by making multiple copies, publishing and issuing copies to the
public. Brief extracts of the material can be reproduced under the “fair
dealing” provisions of the Copyright Design and Patents Act 1998 (S.29 and
S.30) for the purposes of research for non-commercial purposes, private
study, criticism, review and news reporting. Authorisation to re-use
copyright material not owned by Brighton & Hove City Council and/or its
contractor(s) should be sought from the copyright holders concerned. If
you are considering re-using the information disclosed to you through this
request, for any purpose outside of what could be considered for personal
use, then you are required under the Public Sector Re-use of Information
Regulations 2005 to make an Application for Re-use to the organisation
from which you have requested the information. Applications for Re-use
should be directed to the Data Protection Manager at the address above.

 

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communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this
communication in error please notify the sender immediately.
Thank you in anticipation of your co-operation.

You can visit our website at [6]http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk

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4. mailto:[email address]
5. http://www.ico.org.uk/
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Dear Freedom Of Information,

I am requesting an urgent internal review of the decision to refuse access to this information

Yours sincerely,

Steve Parry

Freedom Of Information, Brighton and Hove City Council

Thank you for your email. This mailbox is managed during the working hours
of 8:00am to 4:00pm on Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays). Emails
received outside of these hours will usually be processed during the next
available working day.

 

If you are submitting a Freedom of Information Request (FOI) then the
Council has a legal obligation to respond no later than 20 working days
following the date of receipt.

 

You can find more information about the FOI process on the Council’s
website through this link;

 

[1]Freedom of Information – Brighton & Hove City Council  

 

Regards,

 

Information Governance Team | 01273 295959 | [2]Brighton & Hove City
Council

Notice to recipient:
The information contained in this electronic mail message is intended only
for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed
and may contain information which is privileged and confidential, the
disclosure of which is prohibited by law.
If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, please note
that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this
communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this
communication in error please notify the sender immediately.
Thank you in anticipation of your co-operation.

You can visit our website at [3]http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk

Please consider the environment, only print out this email if absolutely
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Please Note:  Both incoming and outgoing Emails may be monitored and/or
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References

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2. http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/
3. http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/

Freedom Of Information, Brighton and Hove City Council

 

Please find set out below the information in response to the above
request:

 

Could you please inform me of what action B&HCC has taken to rectify the
results of this initial incorrect guidance from the DWP to ensure that the
Council meets the requirements of the Supreme Court Ruling?

Have those residents who have been incorrectly subject to the “Bedroom
Tax” been contacted including those refused Discretionary Housing Payments
and those forced to move home?

What arrangements have been made to recompense those affected?

If nothing has yet been done what action is proposed?

 

This information requested is currently in the process of being drafted
and the Councils position finalised.  Therefore the Council believes that
this information is exempt under section 22 of the Act – future
publication.

 

Public interest Test

Section 22 is subject to a public interest test. The public interest test
starts from a positon of expectation to disclose the information. In this
case the Council balanced the request to see whether it would be in the
public interest to disclose or withhold the information. 

We do not believe that early release of the information as requested would
inform the public debate and in fact may well have a negative effect, in
that incomplete information would be released into the public domain.

Have Members of the Housing and New Homes Committee been informed of the
effect of the Supreme Court Ruling?

 

This information is exempt under section 21 – information  reasonably
accessible by other means.  All minutes of the  are available here
[1]https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/mgC...

 

Should you have any further queries about this request, please contact us
via email to [2][Brighton and Hove City Council request email] quoting the
reference number given above.

 

If you are not satisfied with the handling of your request, you can appeal
(Internal Review) within 2 months of the completed FOI. Write to:

 

Freedom of Information Appeals

Brighton & Hove City Council

ICT 4th Floor

Bartholomew House

Bartholomew Square

Hove BN1 1JE

[3][Brighton and Hove City Council request email]

 

If you are still not satisfied after your Internal Review has been
investigated, you can escalate your complaint to the Information
Commissioners Office. The contact details are:

 

The Information Commissioners Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire SK9 5AF

Helpline: 0303 123 1113 (local rate) or 01625 545 745 (national rate)

e-mail: [4][email address]

Website: [5]www.ico.org.uk

 

 

Re-use of Public Sector Information and Copyright Statement

Where information has been supplied, you are advised that the copyright in
that material is owned by Brighton & Hove City Council and/or its
contractor(s) unless otherwise stated. The supply of documents under the
Freedom of Information Act does not give the recipient an automatic right
to re-use those documents in a way that would infringe copyright, for
example, by making multiple copies, publishing and issuing copies to the
public. Brief extracts of the material can be reproduced under the “fair
dealing” provisions of the Copyright Design and Patents Act 1998 (S.29 and
S.30) for the purposes of research for non-commercial purposes, private
study, criticism, review and news reporting. Authorisation to re-use
copyright material not owned by Brighton & Hove City Council and/or its
contractor(s) should be sought from the copyright holders concerned. If
you are considering re-using the information disclosed to you through this
request, for any purpose outside of what could be considered for personal
use, then you are required under the Public Sector Re-use of Information
Regulations 2005 to make an Application for Re-use to the organisation
from which you have requested the information. Applications for Re-use
should be directed to the Data Protection Manager at the address above.

 

Notice to recipient:
The information contained in this electronic mail message is intended only
for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed
and may contain information which is privileged and confidential, the
disclosure of which is prohibited by law.
If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, please note
that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this
communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this
communication in error please notify the sender immediately.
Thank you in anticipation of your co-operation.

You can visit our website at [6]http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk

Please consider the environment, only print out this email if absolutely
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Please Note:  Both incoming and outgoing Emails may be monitored and/or
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References

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2. mailto:[Brighton and Hove City Council request email]
3. mailto:[Brighton and Hove City Council request email]
4. mailto:[email address]
5. http://www.ico.org.uk/
6. http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/

Dear Freedom Of Information,

Housing Benefit and Universal Credit (Size Criteria) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2017 (The "Bedroom Tax").

This request for information was originally submitted on 6 April 2017. Could you please advise me when I am likely to receive a response in relation to a decision that the Council should have made as early as November 2016

Yours truly,

Steve Parry

Freedom Of Information, Brighton and Hove City Council

Thank you for your email. This mailbox is managed during the working hours
of 8:00am to 4:00pm on Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays). Emails
received outside of these hours will usually be processed during the next
available working day.

 

If you are submitting a Freedom of Information Request (FOI) then the
Council has a legal obligation to respond no later than 20 working days
following the date of receipt.

 

You can find more information about the FOI process on the Council’s
website through this link;

 

[1]Freedom of Information – Brighton & Hove City Council  

 

Regards,

 

Information Governance Team | 01273 295959 | [2]Brighton & Hove City
Council

Notice to recipient:
The information contained in this electronic mail message is intended only
for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed
and may contain information which is privileged and confidential, the
disclosure of which is prohibited by law.
If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, please note
that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this
communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this
communication in error please notify the sender immediately.
Thank you in anticipation of your co-operation.

You can visit our website at [3]http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk

Please consider the environment, only print out this email if absolutely
necessary.

Please Note:  Both incoming and outgoing Emails may be monitored and/or
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References

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Freedom Of Information, Brighton and Hove City Council

1 Attachment

  • Attachment

    Unclassified RESPONSE TO FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST FOI 7908.html

    11K Download

Dear Mr Parry,

Our records show that we responded to this request on 15th May 2017 as per the attached.

If you are not satisfied with the handling of your request, you can appeal (Internal Review) within 2 months of the completed FOI.

Yours sincerely,

Information Governance Team I IT & Digital

01273 295959 I Monday-Friday 8am-4pm
[Brighton and Hove City Council request email]

show quoted sections

Dear Freedom Of Information,
The response you refer to was originally sent to me on 11 May to which I responded by return with the following;

"I am requesting an urgent internal review of the decision to refuse access to this information"

For some reason your email of 11 May was repeated on 15 May

Yours sincerely,

Steve Parry

Freedom Of Information, Brighton and Hove City Council

Thank you for your email. This mailbox is managed during the working hours
of 8:00am to 4:00pm on Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays). Emails
received outside of these hours will usually be processed during the next
available working day.

 

If you are submitting a Freedom of Information Request (FOI) then the
Council has a legal obligation to respond no later than 20 working days
following the date of receipt.

 

You can find more information about the FOI process on the Council’s
website through this link;

 

[1]Freedom of Information – Brighton & Hove City Council  

 

Regards,

 

Information Governance Team | 01273 295959 | [2]Brighton & Hove City
Council

Notice to recipient:
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for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed
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that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this
communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this
communication in error please notify the sender immediately.
Thank you in anticipation of your co-operation.

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Katie Rees,

3 Attachments

Good Afternoon Mr Parry,

 

I hope this email finds you well.

 

Thank you for your recent request for Internal Review of FOI7908.

Please find our response attached, if you remain dissatisfied, please
contact the ICO.

 

Many thanks,

 

Katie Rees

Data Protection & GDPR I Information Governance Team I IT&D

Brighton & Hove City Council I 01273 291415 

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Working in partnership

Please find our new suite of Information Governance policies [3]here.

 

Notice to recipient:
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for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed
and may contain information which is privileged and confidential, the
disclosure of which is prohibited by law.
If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, please note
that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this
communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this
communication in error please notify the sender immediately.
Thank you in anticipation of your co-operation.

You can visit our website at [4]http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk

Please consider the environment, only print out this email if absolutely
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Please Note:  Both incoming and outgoing Emails may be monitored and/or
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References

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Freedom Of Information, Brighton and Hove City Council

2 Attachments

Good Afternoon Mr Parry,

 

As you may remember, your recent Freedom of Information Request was exempt
under Exemption 22 – Future Publication.

 

We are now in a position to provide you with this information, please find
our response below:

 

1.    Could you please inform me of what action B&HCC has taken to rectify
the results of this initial incorrect guidance from the DWP to ensure that
the Council meets the requirements of the Supreme Court Ruling?

 

The Council has undertaken a process to identify tenants on Housing
Benefit who may be affected by this change. They are being contacted so it
can be determined whether this change will affect them. Letters are being
sent in June and will be staggered over a period of time.

 

2.    Have those residents who have been incorrectly subject to the
“Bedroom Tax” been contacted including those refused Discretionary Housing
Payments and those forced to move home?

 

See answers to question 1

 

3.    What arrangements have been made to recompense those affected?

 

Any cases identified will have their Housing Benefit reassessed in line
with the revised guidance.

 

4.    If nothing has yet been done what action is proposed?

 

Not applicable

 

Kindest Regards,

 

 

Freedom of  Information Team

Brighton & Hove City Council I 01273 295959

[1]Orbis_email signature_100px [2]partners_email signature_35px
Working in partnership

Please find our new suite of Information Governance policies [3]here.

 

 

Notice to recipient:
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for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed
and may contain information which is privileged and confidential, the
disclosure of which is prohibited by law.
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that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this
communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this
communication in error please notify the sender immediately.
Thank you in anticipation of your co-operation.

You can visit our website at [4]http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk

Please consider the environment, only print out this email if absolutely
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Please Note:  Both incoming and outgoing Emails may be monitored and/or
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STEVE PARRY left an annotation ()

This is now being investigated by the ICO

Katie Rees, Brighton and Hove City Council

8 Attachments

Good Afternoon Mr Parry,

 

I hope my email finds you well.

My apologies in the delay in getting this to you, unfortunately, when I
attempted to post a reply to Whatdotheyknow.com they had closed the thread
to which I had to request for it to be reopened. I apologise.

 

Just an update for you, as you are aware the Information Commissioner’s
Office is currently investigating your FOI Request regarding Bedroom Tax ,
FOI7908

 

Recorded Information held:

 

Meeting minutes

·         DHP review meeting 6 August 2014 point 6 notes shows a
discussion around DHPs and disability benefits.

·         DHP review meeting June 2015 (date of meeting 1/7/15) – Point 8:
DPs & Disability Benefits notes the High Court decision.

·         DHP review meeting 8 Sep 2015 – Point 10: Updates that Doug
(Mullenger) is working his way through a report of potential cases and
that he (Doug) and Steven would go through possibly affected cases
together.

 

ePetition

·         Response to ePetition – email

 

·         P&R committee – email

 

 

Article in Homing IN Magazine

 

This can be found on page 3 at
[1]http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/sites/br...

 

 

We can also see that we originally informed you that:

“The Council has undertaken a process to identify tenants on Housing
Benefit who may be affected by this change. They are being contacted so it
can be determined whether this change will affect them. Letters are being
sent in June and will be staggered over a period of time”.

We can now see that the letter we refer to relates to a different ruling
that happened around the same time and we note you submitted a similar
request under FOI8467 as seen in the link below:

[2]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/4...

I believe the two rulings were muddled when responding to these FOI
requests. I sincerely apologise for this mistake.

We can confirm that the Housing & New Homes Committee were not informed of
the effect of the Supreme Court Ruling. Housing is subject to a lot of
frequent changes in law. We do not have a policy for updating members on
new legal challenges or specific governmental changes to law.  Members are
provided with information on the broader impacts of welfare reforms on a
regular basis, and often request information relating to this area from
officers. We would like to take the time to apologise for providing the
previous link, which we can see did not provide you with the specific
information you requested but information on a broader level. Therefore
our decision to apply Section 21 – Accessible by other means was applied
incorrectly.

 

Please note:

 

We are still in talks with the Information Commissioner’s Office in
regards to this FOI request, any further correspondence in response to
this email must be sent to the Information Commissioner’s Office to
include within their investigation. We are only able to act on the
direction of the ICO at this point into the investigation.

 

Kindest Regards,

 

Katie Rees
Data Protection & GDPR   I Information Governance Team

Brighton and Hove City Council

01273 291415

[3]cid:image001.png@01D2D9D9.875CC420
[4]cid:image002.png@01D2D9D9.875CC420
Working in partnership

 

Notice to recipient:
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and may contain information which is privileged and confidential, the
disclosure of which is prohibited by law.
If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, please note
that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this
communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this
communication in error please notify the sender immediately.
Thank you in anticipation of your co-operation.

You can visit our website at [5]http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk

Please consider the environment, only print out this email if absolutely
necessary.

Please Note:  Both incoming and outgoing Emails may be monitored and/or
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References

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5. http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/

Dear Katie,
Many thanks for your informative and helpful response.

I look forward to receiving further information in due course

With best wishes
Yours truly

Steve Parry

Katie Rees, Brighton and Hove City Council

14 Attachments

Good Afternoon Mr Parry,

 

I hope my email finds you well. J

 

The ICO Senior Caseworker has instructed us to send this information to
you.

If you have any comments or concerns, please direct these to
[1][email address] and reference: FS50689713

 

Kindest Regards,

 

Katie Rees
Information Governance Consultant (GDPR Lead)  

Brighton and Hove City Council

01273 291415

[2]cid:image001.png@01D2D9D9.875CC420
[3]cid:image002.png@01D2D9D9.875CC420
Working in partnership

 

Notice to recipient:
The information contained in this electronic mail message is intended only
for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed
and may contain information which is privileged and confidential, the
disclosure of which is prohibited by law.
If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, please note
that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this
communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this
communication in error please notify the sender immediately.
Thank you in anticipation of your co-operation.

You can visit our website at [4]http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk

Please consider the environment, only print out this email if absolutely
necessary.

Please Note:  Both incoming and outgoing Emails may be monitored and/or
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References

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Data Protection, Brighton and Hove City Council

2 Attachments

Good Afternoon Mr Parry,

 

Joanna Marshall, Senior Case Officer for the Information Commissioner’s
Office has contacted us and requested we provide you with the following
information:

 

With regard to DHP applications, we would have refused them if someone did
not engage in the process of moving from a property that had been deemed
as too large for their household’s needs, in line with Government
legislation.

Some households would have voluntarily moved to smaller accommodation and
others would have paid the shortfall created by the reduction in Housing
Benefit entitlement. Others chose to rent out the extra room, or their
household size changed, which meant that the bedroom tax would no longer
apply. In these situations there would be no need for eviction
proceedings.

Where someone did engage in the process of downsizing, a DHP may have been
paid to ensure that their arrears prior to the move were covered, again,
there would be no rent arrears and consequently no need for eviction
proceedings.

Prior to the legislation change, each DHP application where the bedroom
tax applied, would have been judged on its merits based upon the
legislation in place at the time. No exercise was conducted to identify
people refused a DHP prior to the legislation change. It is likely that a
high proportion of the people impacted would have been resident prior to,
and after the legislation change and so were identified by the exercise
already detailed.

 

We can confirm that no one has been evicted as a result of bedroom tax
arrears.

 

In terms of ‘what steps has the Council taken to contact people refused
payments on this basis and how many people have been contacted’ we can
confirm that we have no way with the data that is held to accurately
identify such people.

 

Should you have any further questions, please direct them to
[1][email address]

 

Many thanks,

 

Katie Rees
Information Governance Consultant (GDPR Lead)  

Brighton and Hove City Council

01273 291415

[2]cid:image001.png@01D2D9D9.875CC420
[3]cid:image002.png@01D2D9D9.875CC420
Working in partnership

 

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Dear Katie,

Many thanks for the most recent information provided as a result of a further intervention by the ICO.
I would be grateful if you could confirm that my understanding of the information provided is correct in that;

1. The Council is unable to access records of those residents refused a DHP and the reasons for being refused

2. Despite acknowledging that in certain cases the imposition of the "bedroom Tax" and/or the refusal of a DHP was unlawful, action has not been taken to rectify the situation.

3. You say that;
"Prior to the legislation change, each DHP application where the bedroom
tax applied, would have been judged on its merits based upon the
legislation in place at the time. No exercise was conducted to identify
people refused a DHP prior to the legislation change. It is likely that a
high proportion of the people impacted would have been resident prior to,
and after the legislation change and so were identified by the exercise
already detailed."

However, we are not referring to a change in legislation but a ruling that the legislation was not being implemented lawfully. It is therefore incorrect to state that each DHP application "would have been judged on its merits" as if this was true there would have been no need for new advice to be issued by the DWP or for local authorities to have carried out (or not) checks on which residents have been treated unlawfully and require recompense. There are, of course, some who are still paying bedroom tax who should not be and were refused a DHP to cover this tax.

4. You further state " we can confirm that we have no way with the data that is held to accurately identify such people." You have data on who pays "Bedroom Tax" and you have data on applications for a DHP (including a breakdown of reasons for the DHP). Is it not possible to use this data to identify those who potentially have been treated unlawfully in order that the law is implemented?

Please let me know if my understanding of the information provided is correct in order that there is public knowledge of if and how the Council has carried out its statutory responsibilities.

I would remind you that we are talking about a Supreme Court Ruling of November 2016, an “Urgent Bulletin” (HB U3/2016) on 9 November 2016 and a revised Housing Benefit Circular A3/2017 (Housing Benefit and Universal Credit (Size Criteria) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2017) of March 2017.

My original request for information was submitted on 6 April 2017

Yours truly,

Steve Parry

Katie Rees, Brighton and Hove City Council

Good Afternoon Mr Parry,

1. The Council is unable to access records of those residents refused a DHP and the reasons for being refused
We do not hold reasons for refusals of DHPs in an electronic format.

2. Despite acknowledging that in certain cases the imposition of the "bedroom Tax" and/or the refusal of a DHP was unlawful, action has not been taken to rectify the situation.
Action has been taken to identify the cases that were affected by the supreme court ruling and did not receive a DHP. The issue is that the information to identify households affected is complex and not held as part of a Housing Benefit claim.
As previously detailed, a mailshot was sent out to those potentially affected by the Supreme Court ruling, to gain the additional information needed to correctly assess their HB entitlement and review a DHP award.

The timeline/background: The Bedroom Tax was introduced from 1st April 2013, the Supreme Court ruling was on 9th November 2016, the DWP circular was issued on 24th March 2017, effective from 1st April 2017.

Although the Benefits computer system can identify households that were subject to the bedroom tax for a period between April 2013 and April 2017, we do not hold all of the information required to identify households where the supreme court ruling would
have applied. A report of “active” HB claims was used for the process of sending a mailshot to identify those households that may have been affected and this was also used to review potential retrospective DHP awards.

To illustrate the difficulty in identifying households affected, paragraph 20 of the DWP circular setting out the actions for Local Authorities (A3/2017), specifically says this:
Administration.
LAs will need to consider cases awarded under previous guidance to ascertain whether a claimant qualifies for an additional bedroom in light of the amended regulations, and whether or not reassessment is therefore required.
However, we accept there may be difficulties in identifying them. We have therefore included two model leaflets at Annexes 2 and 3 for you to use or amend as appropriate.

3. You say that;
"Prior to the legislation change, each DHP application where the bedroom
tax applied, would have been judged on its merits based upon the
legislation in place at the time. No exercise was conducted to identify
people refused a DHP prior to the legislation change. It is likely that a
high proportion of the people impacted would have been resident prior to,
and after the legislation change and so were identified by the exercise
already detailed."

However, we are not referring to a change in legislation but a ruling that the legislation was not being implemented lawfully. It is therefore incorrect to state that each DHP application "would have been judged on its merits" as if this was true there would have been no need for new advice to be issued by the DWP or for local authorities to have carried out (or not) checks on which residents have been treated unlawfully and require recompense. There are, of course, some who are still paying bedroom tax who should not be and were refused a DHP to cover this tax.

If the complainant has information about households that have been affected by the bedroom tax and refused a DHP prior to the change in legislation, please forward details as this will both allow us to rectify this situation. This may also give us further information to identify other households that have been adversely impacted in the same circumstances.

4. You further state " we can confirm that we have no way with the data that is held to accurately identify such people." You have data on who pays "Bedroom Tax" and you have data on applications for a DHP (including a breakdown of reasons for the DHP). Is it not possible to use this data to identify those who potentially have been treated unlawfully in order that the law is implemented?

We think that we have achieved this outcome as detailed previously. However, as the complainant believes that there may still be households that have not been considered, we will conduct a further exercise to cross-reference bedroom tax cases and DHPs.

We do not hold the reasons for the refusal of a DHP electronically. However the report mentioned previously (used for the mailshot) will have identified those households affected by the bedroom tax and potentially likely to be affected by the supreme court ruling. The mailshot then allowed us to explain the change of law and invite households to send in information which would allow us to change the HB assessment and review previous DHP applications. As previously indicated, publicity was also released to try to maximise knowledge of the legislation change.

Please let me know if my understanding of the information provided is correct in order that there is public knowledge of if and how the Council has carried out its statutory responsibilities.

I would remind you that we are talking about a Supreme Court Ruling of November 2016, an “Urgent Bulletin” (HB U3/2016) on 9 November 2016 and a revised Housing Benefit Circular A3/2017 (Housing Benefit and Universal Credit (Size Criteria) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2017) of March 2017.

My original request for information was submitted on 6 April 2017

Please be aware that this is my last working day with the Council and all further queries should be directed to [email address]

Many thanks

Katie Rees
Information Governance Consultant (GDPR Lead)
Brighton and Hove City Council
01273 291415

Working in partnership

show quoted sections

Dear Katie Rees,

First and foremost let me say how sorry I am to hear that you are leaving and wish you the very best for whatever you are going to do.

Also thanks for the recent email and news on the new initiatives to identify cases of injustice still to be rectified.

Yours truly

Steve Parry

Katie Rees, Brighton and Hove City Council

Thanks for your email.

I have now left the Council, please direct all enquires to
[email address]

 

Many thanks,

 

Katie Rees

 

 

Notice to recipient:
The information contained in this electronic mail message is intended only
for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed
and may contain information which is privileged and confidential, the
disclosure of which is prohibited by law.
If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, please note
that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this
communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this
communication in error please notify the sender immediately.
Thank you in anticipation of your co-operation.

You can visit our website at [1]http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk

Please consider the environment, only print out this email if absolutely
necessary.

Please Note:  Both incoming and outgoing Emails may be monitored and/or
recorded in line with current legislation

 

References

Visible links
1. http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/

debbie left an annotation ()

It is worth noting that when you ask B&H council for a copy of their DHP Policy. It was 'made' in 2013!!
And therefore, does not take into account ANY court rulings AT ALL.
So, as this is their reference. It is VERY out of date. And those tenants who may qualify, as a result of any court rulings, since 2013. Are being totally overlooked!!