Reply To: Reduced verification of a bank account

Peter Barker

This is a good example of how words like “cancel” can obfuscate the decision making process. It might very well be the case that what you have done is correct in substance, but you do need to be satisfied that there is a proper legal basis for it.

First, for the avoidance of doubt, is she on Pension Credit? If she is, there is no need to verify her bank account balance. Assuming it’s not a Pension Credit:

Do you think she has unreasonably refused to cooperate with your enquiries, and have you followed the correct procedure to suspend and then terminate HB under Regs 11 – 14 of the Decisions and Appeals Regulations? If so, it would be correct to terminate HB, but there does seem to be a question over what is reasonable in her case.

Does she have a formal appointee or deputy? If so, has that person done everything that they could reasonably be expected to do to verify the bank account? I’m guessing there is no deputy, otherwise they would have access to the bank account.

Even if there has been no unreasonable non-cooperation that would justify termination, do you have nevertheless have reason to think her capital might well now be more than £16,000? If so, that would justify an adverse inference about the bank account, which would be appealable by producing the evidence.

But saying the case is “cancelled” after it was “selected for a HBAA review” might not pass muster as a sound decision if it were ever to find its way to a Tribunal.