Reply To: Should we award Underlying Entitlement?


Not completely straightforward, this one.

Extract from Reg 104 in its post-April 06 form:

“104. (1) … in calculating the amount of a recoverable overpayment, the relevant authority shall deduct any amount of housing benefit which should have been determined to be payable in respect of the whole or part of the overpayment period—
… (c) on the basis of the claim as it would have appeared if any change of circumstances, [b:2574f276a3]except a change of the dwelling which the claimant occupies as his home[/b:2574f276a3], had been notified at the time that change occurred.”

In other words, you [b:2574f276a3]don’t[/b:2574f276a3] apply underlying entitlement by deducting what the claimant would have got for the new address.

The purpose of this provision is to close a loophole that was previously available to landlords in cases where an overpayment is recoverable from the landlord: the landlord cannot say “I only owe you 50p because the overpayment needs to be reduced by underlying entitlement for the claimant’s new address, wherever that may be. Bit tough on the new landlord but that’s not my problem”.

In a case where benefit is paid to the claimant, any overpayment for Address 1 is recoverable in full from arrears of entitlement for Address 2 – for all practical purposes that’s the same as underlying entitlement but it doesn’t go by that name. But where benefit was paid to the landlord, the overpayment for Address 1 is ring-fenced from the separate entitlement for Address 2. The main effect of this is that any overpayment for Address 1 cannot be clawed back in a lump sum from entitlement for Address 2: HB is paid twice, then recovered later. DWP obviously believes that the Address 1 overpayment will generally be recovered from the landlord; me, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think the overpayment will not be recoverable from the landlord very often under the new Reg 101.