Break in entitlement

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    The statutory reference for determining a maximum rent (LHA) upon receipt of a claim is Regulation 13C (2) (a) I can’t see any requirement for a gap in entitlement, merely a new claim made on or after 7 April 2008.

    Odd that the DWP think that payments of an Extended Payment are “not HB payments” given that they are paid under the HB Regulations 2006 Reg. No. 72.

    Really they should be advising that the Welfare Reform Act provides for EP’s to be paid without ending a claim, and therefore they will be paid as on-going entitlement without the requirement for a new claim at all.

    Michelle Howley


    I am struggling to understand how you can treat a claim as continuous if there is a break of in the claim. If a customer is on a passported benefit and there is a gap in that benefit, and they don’t provide income information for the missing period, the claim has ended, and a new claim form is needed. (This is only a change of circumstance if the claim is continuous).

    If a new claim form is need the claim may go onto LHA, but we then have to look at if there is a break of a week or more between benefit entitlement (I think).


    [quote:6e973e1f1c=”michelle M”]
    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’.[/quote:6e973e1f1c]

    Ah yes. When you think of it like that. It makes sense.

    Unless I’m being wildly optimistic, of course. 😉


    I think we are addressing slightly the wrong point here. The key point is not necessarily whether there is a break in claim/award/entitlement (and the peculiar status of extended payments makes that question hard to answer anyway … and BTW why do we have to wait until October 2008 for EPs to be fixed, surely it would make more sense to fix them at the same time as LHA).

    The key point is whether there has been an event that triggers migration to LHA.

    One of those events is a claim received after April 2008. Whether there is a break in entitlement or not, as things stand an in-work award followng an EP does require a claim. So that triggers LHA even if entitlement is seamless as I read it.

    There is a separate issue about the effect of very short breaks in entitlement and whether it is absolutely necessary to make a new claim just because you worked for one week, or because you had a rent-free week.

    Incidentally, it looks to me as if Reg 8(2) is saying that you are not treated as liable to pay rent during a rent-free week: I read it as saying that you are stll treated as liable to pay if you have paid in advance, and if your rent is retrospectvely varied you are treated as liable for the varied amount, but all subject to the rent free weeks provision.

    There is an apocryphal story that the original plan in 1987 was to deal with rent-free weeks by spreading out the claimant’s rent over the whole year and paying HB throughout. This had the disadvantage of requiring the claimant to stay on HB for the full year in order to get their full entitlement, all the while going into arrears by a couple of pounds a week; conversely, if you ony claimed HB for a short period and the rent free weeks happened to fall in it, the 52-week average method would give you something of a windfall. The legend has it that Thatcher couldn’t see beyond the fact that HB would be paid for weeks with no rent liability. She wasn’t listening to any explanations about everything averaging itself out over 52 weeks and sent the hapless social security minister (Tim Suit, I think it was at the time) away to come up with a method that would not involve payments being made in rent-free weeks.

    The result is that there are undeniably weeks with no entitlement under the current method. New claim required?

    I am on the side of the “closed period supersession” that allows a continuing award of HB to take a short break in its stride. The counter-argument relies on CH/0269/2006, but I believe that is a decision made on a particular set of facts that were quite unusual (computer error resurrected long-dead claim, no suggestion that the claimant was actually entitled to the money at all).


    [quote:f013d69ec0=”Captain Jack Sparrow”]

    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:f013d69ec0]is[/i:f013d69ec0] a break in the claim, and it [i:f013d69ec0]does[/i:f013d69ec0] require the completion of a new claim form, so they should move onto LHA, yes?[/quote:f013d69ec0]

    Extended payments are now a change of circs.


    [quote:6e9243426a=”seanosul”]Extended payments are now a change of circs.[/quote:6e9243426a]

    The Welfare Reform Act contains the provisions allowing this to be done but as far as I am aware there has not yet been a commencement order for those bits, and in any case detailed Regulations are required. I heard somewhere that it is not planned to introduce this until October 2008. It’s a pity it couldn’t be done to coincide with LHA, but it looks as if an EP will have the effect of migrating the claimant onto LHA in the short term


    ‘I am on the side of a ‘closed period supersession’ that allows a continuing award of HB to take a short break in its stride’-Peter Barker

    I very much share that view, Peter, but am ever fearful of the auditor who does not take such a pragmatic view and qualifies our final claim, with all the implications such as a subsidy withhold, because HB legislation does not, either at primary level or in regulations, specifically provide for such an interpretation.
    So we appear to be stuck with the situation that an existing HB claimant will need to make a new claim if entitlement ends because of an odd week’s income fluctuation ( eg. overtime worked out of the blue), a rent free week or following a period of an Extended Payment resulting from a return to paid employment, each of which would consequently mean the claimant going on to LHA.


    I’m not sure about the commencement date but I have a draft copy of “The Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Extended Payment) Regulations 2007, already. The draft features a substitution of the existing Regulation 72 without reference to a person ceasing to be entitled to HB in paragraph 1.

    Mind you, they may have to change the name of these regs if DWP are now advising Michelle that EP’s are not payments of HB anyway!!


    [quote=”Captain Jack Sparrow”]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]re-applications where there is a break in the claim of one week or more[/b]


    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]is[/i] a break in the claim, and it [i]does[/i] require the completion of a new claim form, so they should move onto LHA, yes?[/quote]


    Not for a moment doubting the accuracy of Michelle’s exchange with DWP but, having considered it further, I can’t accept that the advice given to her by DWP, that a new claim is required following an Extended Payment, is correct.My recollection was that one of the key intentions of the abolition of benefit periods was to remove the need for somone moving off Income Support or JSA having to make a new claim and that such a change would in future be treated as a change in circumstances, removing what was viewed by some as a barrier to work.Certainly it is a c.of.c in my stats returns.Michelle,perhaps you might challenge the accuracy of this interpretation with the DWP officer who is making such an assertion.


    The reason you need a new claim after the EPP is because the EPP brings HB/CTB entitlement to an end (Reg 77 HBR, Reg 65 CTBR). If an award ends, you then need a new claim befor you can resume payment, as no claim subsists. That’s the anomaly that the expected October 2008 change will address – an anomaly that exists because, presumably, it was easier to chnage the HB/CTB regulations than the EPP legislation.

    But for stats circumstances it is a change of circumstances, rapidly (hopefully) followed by a new claim stat.


    DWP position on some of these issues seems to be there is no change so why the problem. No-one is going to insist on making a new claim under current HB rules are they? I still maintain plenty of claimants will potentially be a lot better off under LHA.

    As well as the £15, the extra bedroom for each non-dep really does make a difference even with the cap (Sean, have a look at the figures!).

    From a practical point of view, if a claimant submits a new claim after April 2008 (maybe because they have had a EXP, short break or rent free week or wharever) and they are significantly better off under the LHA rules, will local authorities just accept it and move the customer on to LHA whatever the legal arguments?

    Julian Hobson

    Are there any views on my interpretation of the regs or is there a specific bit in the LHA regs that talks about breaks ?


    I agree with your interpretation Julian, I see no need for a break in entitlement, just a reference to a new claim.


    The Regs say that an LHA is set if the claimant lives in in appropriate accommodation and on or after 7 April 2008 one of the following happens:

    – a claim or CMS input doc
    – a change of address in a non-LHA case
    – size criteria-affecting changes, changes of address or annewal reviews in an existing LHA case

    The Regs do not say anything about a gap in entitlement being required – it was simply our assumption in this thread that you would not need to be claiming HB unless your previous claim had ended. But it is possible to be required to make a new claim without any gap in entitlement, for example when there is an EP. Also, a surviving partner claiming within a month of the previous claimant’s death will often experience no gap in entitlement but there is a new claim in that person’s name for the first time.

    Nevertheless, it seems likely that most of the people who go onto LHA by virtue of a new claim/CMS doc will be brand new claimants or people who have been off the books in recent weeks/months. In other words, a “claim” is required from both new and returning customers. [That takes us back to the debate about whether you are an existing or returning customer when your award is interrupted for a short period].

    Of course a claimant who is already on HB and who therefore does not need to make a new claim at all might still do so – I suspect that is especially likely when a “standard” means-tested claimant goes onto a CMS “primary benefit” because the JC+ interview script will generate “relevant info”. I think Reg 13C(2) should be read as meaning that LHA will apply in circumstances where a new claim/CMS info is actually required rather than in any case where the claimant or DWP supplies it superfluously. To put it simply, if there is a break in claim (but when I say “break” that includes EP with no break, and arguably also does not include short breaks with no new claim needed).

    Would the Commissioners, I wonder, take the view that the claimant can “force” himself/herself onto LHA juist by submitting an unnecessary claim? I would not think so, but until they are asked we don’t know.

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