Hoow do I get this HB back?

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  • #45844
    Neil Frazer
    Participant

    Hello everyone,

    We have a case in which a claimant (Claimant A) has a tenancy with another council (Council X) and he has been in dispute with Council X over disrepair on that tenancy. Council X told him in 2009 that if he found himself somewhere else to live, they'd foot the bill. He did, and in 2009, he found a home in our area.

    Council X duly ponied up, and by the end of July 2009, Claimant X received his first cheque for three months rent, accompanied by a letter explaining what the cheque was for. They have continued to pay Claimant A £1200 per month since then. These payments have been made from one of Council X's disrepair funds, that is, the money is not housing benefit.

    Claimant A phoned our council tax team to let us know he'd moved in, and he was quite candid with them. The notebook made at the time states that "Council X are paying my rent".

    In March 2010, he provided a claim form for housing benefit and council tax benefit, and unbelievably, we paid it. Claimant X has had the thick end of £20,000 from us by way of housing benefit.

    Having spoken to somebody at Council X who has met Claimant A, Claimant A is a person with no learning difficulties or mental health problems.

    Now obviously, I would like that housing benefit back. While I am clear that what Caimant A has done is morally wrong, what's my justification for creating a HB overpayment?

    Thanks in advance for your help with this.

    Neil

    #129050
    Andy Thurman
    Keymaster

    “Council X told him in 2009 that if he found himself somewhere else to live, they’d foot the bill. He did, and in 2009, he found a home in our area.
    Council X duly ponied up, and by the end of July 2009, Claimant X received his first cheque for three months rent, accompanied by a letter explaining what the cheque was for. They have continued to pay Claimant A £1200 per month since then. These payments have been made from one of Council X’s disrepair funds, that is, the money is not housing benefit.”

    OK, from this I deduce:
    1. The claimant does have a liability (not seen paperwork but HE found the tenancy – he’s the tenant).
    2. It has not been created to take advantage of the benefit scheme – tenancy found at instruction of another LA then no subsequent benefit claim.
    3. The £1200 payment was not considered.

    It sounds as if this would count as income (but I would want more details on exactly what was going on with Council X! He is in receipt of £1200 per month for how long?? Over a disrepair matter? What about the liability on the LA tenancy?) So some/all could possibly be disegarded?

    Then, if (when, I reckon), there is an overpayment:

    In terms of the time of claim, what did he say on that form/did he declare the income? (If associated with passported benefit case, what info did they gather? What did he tell them?)
    Why did he claim at that time? Anyone advise him to? (Did he just claim HB because someone asked him the question from a JCP script? Was he given chance to declare??)

    If he didn’t declare to you (or DWP if involved) then recoverable.
    If he did, then official error – possibly/probably non-recoverable depending on all facts re advice etc.

    #129052
    David Southam
    Participant

    Hi Neil

    If Council X want to give their money to a person who would be able to receive HB to cover their rent, then that’s their decision. The only overpayment will be caused by the unearned income from that council being added to the claim.

    #129059
    Neil Frazer
    Participant

    Hi Andy,

    Thank you for your insights. To answer (some of) your questions:

    He does have a tenancy agreement, we obtained a copy when verifying the claim. I think the landlord is genuine; the property has been let out one way or another for years before Claimant A moved in.

    I found the three-year time frame puzzling but I think there has been a lot of sueing and counter-sueing over issues related to Claimant A’s tenancy with Council X.

    Claimant A has been on a passported benefit throughout. He never declared the money paid by Council X on his claim. Need to get our fraud team to have a word with JC+ fraud.

    I assume Claimant A’s rent at the Council X property has been waived – I’ll check.

    Claimant A filled out one of our claim forms and we did not start getting ETD’s until Aug 2010. I think he did not tell JC+ he’d moved.

    Andy – you suggest some of the income Claimant A got from Council X could be disregarded – on what grounds?

    Once again, many thanks for your help.

    Neil

    #129075
    Andy Thurman
    Keymaster

    Hi Neil,

    If they have kept him liable for the council property and he has paid, I would deduct that amount from the income he is receiving (as this is effectively the council saying – go on, if it costs more we’ll make up the difference. There is also a possibility that the LA’s payment could/should be classed as ‘voluntary’ (probably not but it needs properly exploring).

    All slightly irrelevant in the first instance unless the JSA decision is changed.

    I think you need to carefully explore the JSA + HB CMS claim here – did he really “not declare” it or was it “boxed off” as irrelevant!

    During JSA part:
    “Any other income?”
    “Well, the council are paying my rent.”
    “That’s fine, we don’t need to know about that.” (assuming it to be HB??)

    Then after all the other JSA questions:
    “Would you like to claim HB?”
    “Er…dunno the council pay my rent.”
    “Hmmm.” (as above), “I think we’d better say yes.”

    On it goes…..

    LAID & JSA proof.

    It may not have worked exactly like that – possible variations, but did he have the chance to declare it/was it dealt with? The details provided openly to start with (to CT) don’t negate the “failure to declare” but do suggest there was no intentional non-disclosure.

    What does the claimant have to say about it all??

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