Exempt or RO decision

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    Sue Wills

    A landlord and registered charity has been providing accommodation including care and support. They also received monies via the supporting people scheme from the county council. Due to this the L/A has been paying over the rent officers decision.

    From the 1st July 2006 the County Council has decommissioned them from receiving funding and have cancelled the contract. Consequently we have reduced the housing benefit to the rent officer decision.

    A representative from a consultancy firm working on behalf of the charity has now contacted the L/A stating that the level of housing benefit should not have reduced and that they continue to provide care and support. He also states that the funding from the county council is not necessary to continue to receive housing benefit above the rent officers decision.

    Please can you clarify if the care and support element is directly connected with the supporting people payment scheme.

    Any thoughts


    SI 1995/1644 defines exempt accommodation as:

    [i:0312aa89e3]”exempt accomodation” means accomodation which isβ€”

    (i) a place provided by a voluntary organisation or by a local authority in respect of which the Secretary of State has given assistance by way of grant pursuant to paragraph 4 of Schedule 5 to the Supplementary Benefits Act 1976 (grants for organisations providing places for purposes similar to resettlement units) and for this purpose “voluntary organisation” and “local authority” shall have the same meanings as they have in that paragraph; or

    (ii) provided by a housing association, registered charity or voluntary organisation where care, support or supervision is provided by, or on behalf of, that body to the occupants of that accommodation[/i:0312aa89e3]

    As far as I am aware, that definition has not been amended, in which case (as there is no mention of Supporting People payments – and wouldn’t be, as the SI pre-dates the SP scheme) I think you should still be treating the property under the pre-1996 RO arrangements.

    Kevin D

    Assuming that the charity is under a LEGAL obligation / duty to provide CSS….. (see CH/0423/2006) AND that it isn’t a front……

    *polite cough*

    [Edit] Even then, if you wanted to break new ground, could always consider the “taking advantage” option (HBR 9(1)(l)) and argue against the principle that this must be at the outset of liability in all cases.



    Er…no disrespect, Kevin, but would you care to put that into English?

    Kevin D


    I’m assuming you’re referring to the “Edit” section (which, with hindsight wasn’t terribly well padded out. Although, there were mitigating reasons for it’s brevity…).

    Hopefully :idea:, this will assist. There is a CD that states “contrived” can only be considered at the outset of the liability. That would, on the face of it, mean that if circumstances changed later, the “contrived” option couldn’t be considered. The context of my comment was that the CD would need to be challenged. For what it’s worth, I think it *may* be possible to argue against it.

    Unfortunately, I’m a long way from my CDs at the moment, so can’t offer the reference at this time.

    If it’s still not clear, by all means post – no offense will be taken.


    Sue Wills

    How would a local authority define the care,support and supervision if the supporting people have decommissioned them from their contract?

    The organisation has been decommissioned as it does not comply to the key requirements or standards required by supporting people.

    They have informed the LA that they have continued to provide care and supervision at the same level both before and after the supporting people monies stopped. They are now funding themselves from charitable donations.

    How do I decide that the level of care and supervision is sufficient to warrant the additional amount of HB above the RO decision?

    Do they have to prove the levels provided by them and if so how?


    Neil Frazer

    The care and support part of the regulations is not linked to Supporting People. That is to say, you don’t have to get SP to be exempt accommodation.

    You could begin by asking:

    1) Why did SP stop paying? Was it a value for money issue rather than a decision that care and support where not being provided? How substantial was the failure to meet standards? A matter of detail or not?

    2) What form does the care and support take? How many hours per week per tenant? How many members of staff are required to provide the care? What are the objectives? What activities are undertaken? What records are kept of care provided to tenants and outcomes for tenants?

    3) What arrangements do other exempt accommodation landlords in your area have? Is this particular organisation’s effort marginal in comparison?

    All these are decisions you will have to take on the facts. I think it would be reasonable for the landlord to provide evidence when you bear in mind who much extra HB will be paid, and how much of that local taxpayers will have to cough up.

    Kevin D

    Care, support or supervision are currently subject to dictionary definition.

    However, I have held a view for some time that it is not enough just for CSS to be provided. There must be a contractual duty / obligation. CH/0423/2006 makes strong observations on the issue of contractual requirements. In my opinion, those observations have a much wider application than just that one case.

    It is clear from Tribunals of which I have knowledge, that a simple statement by a L/L saying CSS is provided by them (or on behalf of) will not wash. It must be for real and not, as in some cases, “…wholly at variance with the reality of the situation”.


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