New localities

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  • #33938
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Anyone else out there just been told that their new localities will be applied from 29 October?

    #94556
    jmembery
    Participant

    Yes, ours (all 5 of them) apply from 29th October.

    #94557
    NEILB
    Participant

    Yes – received letter electronically yesterday advising of 29/10 start date

    #94558
    Anonymous
    Guest

    On the same subject, I’d be interested to hear if any authority is having to cope with winners and losers in their existing and ongoing private sector claims caused by the aggregation of two or more existing localities into one new BRMA from this autumn, as we are.Two lower value localities were aggregated with one higher value locality and the new single locality figure has seen the LRR of the higher value area dragged down, in some cases by as much as £20. 00 per week. I raised it with DWP and was told to use DHP if any tenant had a real difficulty caused by a reduction in LRR from the first annual referral following the introduction of the new BRMA,also on 29th October.We have some slack in our DHP budget but not enough to cope with this likely upsurge in demand.

    #94559
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I note from a new bulletin issued by DWP yesterday that a court injunction to prevent BRMAs being used to redraw existing localities and thus affecting LRRs for existing claimants has been obtained by London Councils.What a mess and blow for DWP and TRS credibility as we move into 2008 and the introduction of their flagship HB reform, LHA.Expect similar moves in Scotland where authorities are similarly incensed about the implications for existing private sector claimants.

    #94560
    Anonymous
    Guest

    The re-defining of existing localities into larger BRMA’s is having quite an effect on HB as far as I can see.

    I understand that whilst England was covered by over 300 localities, there will be in the region of 165 BRMA’s. This will produce winners or losers where a higher rent localitiy will see their valuations reduced by the lower rates of a neighbour (or vice versa).

    The Westminster Judicial Review is an intereting development. I am also aware that Glasgow City are very concerned that their one BRMA will encompass 25 localities.

    I am aware that at least one English Authority has successfully requested the RO to re-determine their BRMA, the effect being that they now have four in their area, instead of one.

    #94561
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Interesting information Richard.
    Given that scale of locality reduction in England with, as you rightly point out, winners and losers I am just surprised that this topic barely gets a mention on our message board as an issue.This will be really be big concern for claimants and landlords (and elected members) who find a cut in ongoing HB from the first 52 week referral following the new locality being established.One rather naive benefit manager at a recent meeting I attended suggested that the number of losers would be compensated for by a similar increase in winners…. so thats alright then. problem solved.I don’t think so.

    #94562
    Anonymous
    Guest

    The crazy thing about this is that it wouldn’t cost any more to leave the areas as they are now: there would still be the same number of HB-affordable tenancies, but there would be a more finely granulated mix of these and the non-affordable ones within very local areas. Mixed local communities are surely more desirable from a social policy point of view.

    The facts are:

    – localities and BRMAs are the same: there is no material difference between their respective definitions. The BRMA definition is more efficient in that it imports the secondary definition of “neighbourhood” directly into the principal definition.
    – this means there is nothing about LHA [i:1d0bc22d64]per se [/i:1d0bc22d64]that justifies the wholsale redrawing of boundaries
    – the DWP and Rent Service are fully aware of this because (a) the revised localities match the new BRMAs, and (b) the exercise is being presented as an overdue review of localities in the light of changing market conditions

    I cannot believe that the market has changed so much in the 7 years since the last amendment following [i:1d0bc22d64]Saadat[/i:1d0bc22d64]. Either the localities have always been too small, or the current exercise has no real basis in law. I imagine that is what has driven the London councils’ JR case (haven’t seen the particulars of their case).

    I personally think the existing localities are just fine, or already too big in some cases. The thrust of the locality/BRMA definition to me suggests that you cast the net as far as you need in order to include all the services and shops listed in the definition, then you stop there. The way the Rent Service is doing it, they are saying “OK, we know there are local shops in your town but there are also perfectly good ones 20 miles away – so why don’t you use them?” I think that is a perverse interpretation of the definition.

    #94563
    jmembery
    Participant

    From the LGA Benefits Briefing

    There have been developments since the issue of the Circular in that following further negotiations, The Rent Service have amended their proposals for Westminster and the Judicial Review Hearing scheduled for the 22 January was cancelled. Further information will be given in the next Benefit Update when the implications for adjoining London Boroughs has been established.

    #48306
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I have seen the projected losers by authority resulting from changes to existing localities when they are brought together under a new BRMA.In some authorities more than 50% of ongoing HB cases will see a reduction in Local Reference Rent with losses in 20% or more of the existing caseload more common and between 10% and 20% even more widespread.DWP’s Paul Howarth’s response has been—well, there are gainers as well.That will be small consolation to the losers who will face an immediate reduction on the annual re-referral to the Rent Officer of anything up to £150 per month according to the figures.No increase in DHP budget and no transitional protection.Even in Mrs Thatcher’s day ministers built in transitional protection to prevent such losses when legislation changed.Again, Howarth’s response has been appalling–that this is not a legislative change and that the definition of locality, as amended around 2001, is consistent with the BRMA definition.Tell that to the losers. How will your authority treat such losers?
    I recall the chair of the last hbinfo HB Conference in Leeds many months ago alerting delegates to this issue and from the reaction it appeared that few if any delegates, never mind the expert speakers, had even considered this as a potential problem.Well it is only a couple of month away and is very real issue.

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