Couple swap on claim?

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    Help please!

    This is a claim with a claimant and partner. Mrs is the claimant and it is standard HB claim. Her partner works while Mrs claims tax credits. However, the claimant has become a full time student. In the past, we used to just get the claimant to put in writing that they wanted to change the names over, thereby making the partner the claimant. The question now is whether we need to treat this as a relevant change of circumstances as the new claimant is now a FT student receiving Student finance. Or, should we cancel the HB claim and inform them that they must now claim UC?

    What are your thoughts?

    Many thanks

    Peter Barker

    Switching the claimant and partner roles involves one member of the couple giving up their benefit entitlement (if you haven’t already made a decision to end it) and the other one making a claim in their name. Since working age people can no longer make a new claim, the switcheroo is not possible and they can instead consider a claim for UC.

    What they will find is that they can claim UC as a couple – the student status of one of them does not prevent that – but the treatment of income other than earnings will result in a steeper reduction rate than it does in HB.

    I would advise them to do an entitlement check before they rush off to claim UC. Their choices are to stay on Tax Credits and manage without any HB, or claim UC which will terminate their Tax Credits. Most student finance doesn’t reduce Tax Credits. The cheaper their rent, the greater the likelihood that Tax Credits will be a better buy than UC.

    Turn2Us or EntitledTo should help them choose the better option.

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