Break in entitlement

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    Please consider the following scenario –

    A claimant with a weekly/monthly wage, who income exceeds their benefit entitlement for a short period of time.

    Currently, if the claimant provides new evidence of income within four weeks of the nil entitlement, we are treating this as a change in circumstances, and inputting the new income without a new claim form. That is, the claim is not immediately cancelled where there is a nil income, and there can be a period of a week where there is nil entitlement due to excess income over requirements.

    Does LHA mean that, as soon as there is a nil entitlement, we should be cancelling the claim, and the claimant then should reclaim, completing a new claim form? And therefore come under LHA?

    Darren Broughton

    [quote:faeeab0728]Currently, if the claimant provides new evidence of income within four weeks of the nil entitlement, we are treating this as a change in circumstances, and inputting the new income without a new claim form.[/quote:faeeab0728]

    Really? How can it be a CoC if you’ve had a period of nil entitlement? You need a new claim form (or similar), otherwise any benefit you subsequently pay isn’t really HB – see CH 0269 2006



    Does this period of nil entitlement also apply to Rent Free weeks? Previous threads suggested that was the case.I understand that DWP had withdrawn guidance that would have given LAs some flexibility to resume benefit in such cases until they had introduced suitable legislation .Probably too much to expect it in time for LHA when a short break in claim will take on much more significance, potentially moving someone from HB to LHA.

    Also, about your reference to CH 0269 2006.I personally am not used to these references.Would be helpful if you could be a bit more specific as to what this reference is to and how it can be accessed.

    Many thanks.

    Darren Broughton


    Where reference is made to CH…..these are Commissioners’ Decisions.

    They can be found in the Caselaw section of this site, and on the Commissioners’ website


    The Commissioner’s Decision is here – [url][/url]

    In this, the commissioner said that you cannot supersede a nil entitlement decision, and that if you did, then any benefit paid would not actually be HB and so any subsequent overpayment would not be recoverable using the HB regs. Also, no subsidy.


    Thanks, Darren. Much appreciated.


    I think we used to waive the new claim, on the grounds of a change in circumstances notified within a month of the decision. A bit of a smudging of the rules, admittedly 😳 It was done with the best of intentions – i.e. making it easier for claimants. 😳

    As for rent free weeks, does anyone have rent-free weeks on a private landlord? We only have them on a housing association, so it’s not really something I’m worried about over here.

    I think I’m right that we will have to change what we do, cancel claims as soon as there’s a nil entitlement, and unless the decision is reconsidered, then the claimant will move on to LHA and have to make a new claim.


    Quite a few LA’s do have private landlord rent free weeks (to my suprise) as I have discovered at HBINFO training sessions. I see no reason in law why a rent free week is not a break in entitlement even if it has become custom and practice not to treat them as such.


    I was under the impression that the law was changed t ensure that rent free weeks are not treated as a break in entitlement.


    Reg 8(2) of the HBR?

    Michelle Howley

    Contacted DWP regarding breaks in claims and breaks in entitlement (particularly to do with LHA), and received the following guidance:-

    ‘A break in a claim and a break in entitlement are one and the same thing’.

    I disagreed with this and gave the example where a customer received HB to Wed 23/04/08 based on I.S. being in payment. Gap in I.S. for Thursday 24/04/08. I.S. and HB reclaimed on Friday 25/08/08. No income details provided for the missing day.

    Customer would be required to provide a new benefit claim form as there is a gap in the benefit claim, however, as the benefit ended on 23/04, the customer would be entitled to the end of the week, Sunday 27/04, and the new claim would be paid from Monday 28/04. There is therefore no break in entitlement, but there is a break in the benefit claim.

    The reply I got was ‘a break in a claim and a break in entitlement are one and the same thing. In your example this would be classed as a change of circumstance, their termination of IS/JSA does not mean that the claim, or entitlement ends. Assessment is needed for the benefit week in total to decide entitlement’.

    I don’t know how this could be a change of circumstance when there isn’t a benefit claim, or how a break in a claim or a break in entitlement can be one and the same thing.

    What does everybody else think?


    I would say that your example is not a break in entitlement. HB will run to the Sunday, where IS ends on the Wednesday. A new claim form is not necessary, as long as all the details of the change in circumstances are known. As long as all details of the change are notified within a calendar month of the date of the suspension, HB would continue without a break in entitlement.

    If, on receipt of the notification of cessation of IS, the claim was suspended, and the customer then failed to provide the information within a calendar month, and the claim was then cancelled, the customer would then have to complete a new claim form. Then we would have to consider whether the claim form was received within a calendar month of the cancellation (do we re-open the claim without break, and therefore would it remain pre-LHA?) or is it a completely new claim, going from the Monday following receipt (definitely LHA).

    Where IS ends on Wednesday, and reclaimed on the Friday, the change would not take effect until the following Monday, so while there would be a break in IS entitlement (which would change the HBRO qualification dates) , there wouldn’t be a break in HB.

    Julian Hobson

    Struggling to find the bit of the LHA regs that refer to a break of a week or more. The only bit I can find relates to the customer being required to submit a new claim rather than the break driving the LHA decision. If that is the case then whether a particular case is LHA or not will depend upon whether you have required a new claim (or will it).

    Does anyone know the correct reg reference and SI ?


    HB LHA Guidance Manual 1.55

    Claimants will go onto LHA on the earlier of the receipt of
    – a new claim

    – relevant information regarding a new claim, i.e. CMS statement

    – a notification of an existing claimant changing address

    – [b:8b4b4bbd28]re-applications where there is a break in the claim of one week or more[/b:8b4b4bbd28]


    Which suggests to me that as soon as there is a nil entitlement, a new claim is required, which moves people on to LHA. That is, a nil entitlement of HB, not of any other qualifying/passported benefit. Changes is IS/JSA/IB/PC etc are just changes in circumstances to HB, unless such a change results in the closure of the HB claim (such as an award of HBRO).

    That’s a thought – so after the four week run-on, someone submits a claim within the time limits, so the claim would run straight after the HBRO ends – wouldn’t they migrate onto LHA as well? It [i:8b4b4bbd28]is[/i:8b4b4bbd28] a break in the claim, and it [i:8b4b4bbd28]does[/i:8b4b4bbd28] require the completion of a new claim form, so they should move onto LHA, yes?

    Michelle Howley

    have received further advice on this area and confirm the following:

    DWP advise

    ‘A break in claim and a break in entitlement are one and the same thing.

    With regards to Extended Payments these are not HB payments and so although the claim would appear to be continuous when you look at the customers claim for HB, this is not the case as you will not be making HB payments for the period of the EP’.

    Julian Hobson

    I’m particularly interested in the reg reference and not the GM blurb. I think the break in entitlement of a week or more is a simplified version of the consequence the regs try to create rather than something specific in the regs (could be wrong but i can’t find it).

    If the break issue comes from reg 13C (2)(a) then I think I’m right in saying that it will be driven by whether you require a new claim for HB to awarded again.

    Anything that isn’t a new claim issue won’t create an LHA claim using that provision. We then need to look at the main (current) regs to establish whether a new claim is required.

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