Reply To: Who can/should act as claimant

Kevin D

HBR 82 applies – see paras 2, 3, or 5.

It’s a common mistake for LAs to accept letters from relatives / other 3rd parties as being enough to treat them as if FORMALLY acting on behalf of the clmt. It isn’t.

The only persons who can LEGALLY be treated as if they are the clmt are those in HBR 82.

A self-appointed appointee is in fact no appointee at all. HBR 82(3) makes it clear that it is the LA’s decision about who is an appointee. The only other circumstances that someone else can be an appointee is under HBR 82(5). In all other cases, only those in HBR 82(2) can be treated as if they are the clmt.

This is important. For example, if a clmt has no one as an appointee etc, any good cause for a backdate claim or any issue of being expected to realise in official error overpayment cases must be considered in terms of the claimant – not a third party (barring misrepresentation etc). If a third party IS a formal appointee etc (under HBR 82), it is the third party’s actions / knowledge etc that must be considered.

My advice is to steer clear of trying to “insist” someone should be acting for her – that is a matter for the clmt and/or other parties. Simply make a decision on the HB claim based on the evidence and information you have relating to occupancy. I would also still send the notifs to the clmt. At a pinch, you might be able to justify addressing the notifs to the clmt, but sending the notifs to a c/o address (e.g. Social Services / the son etc).

The above may appear, at first glance, to be stunningly unsympathetic and unhelpful. However, I’d argue that this approach actually protects the clmt for as long as she doesn’t have an appointee on the grounds that if she can’t handle her affairs, she will tend to benefit from any judgement calls / discretionary decisions that are made on the claim. If a lucid and capable third party is responsible, those same calls and decisions are likely to be much less helpful to the clmt.