LHA Break in Claim – single page application

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  • #34215
    LAHiggins
    Participant

    We have decided to embrace the guidance given in G10 and openly allow claimants to withdraw their claim, and move from HB to LHA with a 1 week break.

    Rather than make the claimant jump through hoops to achive this, we have decided to make the process as simple as possible, and have created a draft single page application form to effectively act as notice to withdraw their existing HB claim, and as a new application for LHA.

    Before we go live with this I thought it may be useful to canvass views from this board, about its usefulness and effectiveness, and more importantly its legality.

    In summary, the wording of the form is as follows. If anyone wants me to email them a copy of the draft form please leave your email address.

    [b:3b3ccaa8f3]Request to claim Local Housing Allowance[/b:3b3ccaa8f3]

    Use this form to transfer a current Housing Benefit claim to Local Housing Allowance.

    In order to transfer your existing Housing Benefit claim to Local Housing Allowance you must read and confirm your understanding and acceptance of all the points below by ticking all of the boxes.

    0 I would like to cancel my current claim for Housing Benefit from the date of my most recent payment and make a new claim for Local Housing Allowance. I would like you to treat this signed application as my new claim; and

    0 I understand that I will lose one weeks Housing Benefit in order to transfer to Local Housing Allowance; and

    0 I am aware that the amount of benefit I will receive under Local Housing Allowance may be different from the amount I am currently receiving; and

    0 I understand that I will receive payment of Local Housing Allowance direct into my bank account and cannot choose to have payments made to my landlord; and

    0 All of my personal details (such as income, savings, rent charged, number of occupants etc) are unchanged since my last claim for Housing Benefit; and

    0 I understand that once I transfer to Local Housing Allowance I will not be able to reclaim Housing Benefit in the future.

    #49911
    Julian Hobson
    Participant

    i’d stay well clear of anything approaching what is suggested even if I was firmly in the withdraw camp.

    On another point I’d stay clear of describing HB and LHA as mutually exclusive.

    LHA doesn’t replace HB. I’d check this out

    https://hbinfo.org/comdecs/ch_2986_2005.doc

    #49912
    LAHiggins
    Participant

    I accept your second point (I wasnt aware of this CD, so thanks for that), but pragmatically, it would be imposible to try and explain the new scheme without specifically referring to it as LHA as opposed to HB, how on earth would anyone other than a practioner be able to make the distinction.

    However I would be grateful for some reasons as to why you suggest the basic principal of this form should be avoided.

    #95989
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I think the distinction could be made between HB, and HB calculated under LHA rules.

    I think the final point in particular should carry the caveat “at the same address”.

    #95990
    Anonymous
    Guest

    If voluntarily breaking ones claim in order to switch to LHA is legal, I don’t see any reason why it should not be encouraged and facilitated in this way. Might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.

    As for the wording, a lot of Councils have chosen to present LHA to the public as a new scheme to replace HB, because they think people will find this easier to understand. Of course to the practitioner LHA is simply one more way of calculating eligible rent for HB, and rather than contrasting it with HB it would be more accurate strictly speaking to contrast it with LRR – it occupies the same field as LRR in the HB means-test calculation. But that is all rather obscure to the non-practitioner, so I can understand why Councils believe it is a better idea to present LHA as a new benefit.

    I suppose there is a small risk that when it comes to detailed statements or appeal submissions claimants who thought they had switched to a new benefit scheme called LHA will be surprised and confused to discover that they were on HB all along.

    But overall I like L A Higgins’ idea … until the Commissioners tell us that claimants cannot do that after all!

    #95991
    Julian Hobson
    Participant

    My reasoning is more to do with understanding what you are actually doing and the decisions arising out of it.

    The decision on the withdrawal is a supersession and will end entitlement attracting appeal rights.

    The decision to start payment again is a new claim and requires a new claim to be made with the decision attracting appeal rights.

    I see no justification for implementing a shortened new claim. You will be required to make a full decision on it taking account of the customers circumstances at the time. I don’t think any form of shortened claim will allow you to do that especially when you go to a tribunal on an overpayment that occurs in 6 months time.

    To my mind the withdrawal request must be accompanied by an explanation so that the DM can decide that it is unequivovocal and without duress. The commissioners don’t suggesat that you simply end entitlement because you have been instructed by the claimant to do so.

    You make the decision to end entitlement, not the customer. The decision needs to be based on facts, you will need to make findings of fact in order to cease the award. The only fact might be that the customer no longer wishes to receive their entitlement.

    I really don’t think that a combined withdraw and claim allows you to find as a fact that the customer wants to withdraw, indeed I would say that such a form prevents you from superseding the decision by demonstrating that there is no intention to withdraw.

    #95992
    Anselmo
    Participant

    Hmmm, interesting, that’s definitely the first CD I’ve read in which the Commissioner cites the wisdom of Humpty Dumpty in his reasoning.

    On a serious note, I share Julian’s concern about portraying LHA, intentionally or otherwise, as a “new benefit”. Easier to understand it may be, but not accurate. It’s easy to understand the concept that, I don’t know, eating carrots turns your hair orange, but it just isn’t the case. I’m all for making things simpler for claimants, goodness knows benefits are complicated enough, but when this starts to distort the true meaning of things, I think it’s too much.

    Speaking, as I always do, from the RSL perspective, we have already had numerous calls from concerned, confused tenants who have received some kind of mailshot from their council telling them that their benefit will no longer be paid to us, but directly to them (which of course is not the case). If it gets on the grapevine that there is a “new benefit”, which can potentially net people money, I expect further problems.

    So I’d put in a little plea for publicity to actually go the other way and make it clear that LHA is a new [i:c5b3094dca]kind[/i:c5b3094dca] of HB that is especially for private tenants and only private tenants (at the moment!).

    Cheers

    #95993
    Susan_Penman
    Participant

    please can you send me a copy of this draft. my e-mail add is susan.penman@blackburn.gov.uk

    #95994
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    Personally I think the tem Local Housing Allowance is a more modern approach. Plenty of elderly customers hate the term “benefit” – it suggests times when your furniture had to be sold off first. I hope LHA will replace HB for all customers.

    #95995
    Anselmo
    Participant

    I hear what you’re saying, and there is a good point to be made about elderly customers; take-up across all benefits in that age-group is still relatively low, despite various initiatives over the years. The removal of the actual word “benefit” may help to remove some stigma, but I fear that pensioners are as savvy as anyone else, and will recognise that it’s still something that they have to fill in forms for, declare their income and personal details for, and thus be reluctant to claim.

    And maybe it’s me being neurotic but I worry about portraying it as a new benefit- you say you hope LHA will replace HB for all customers: LHA [u:707fc92ac1][i:707fc92ac1]is[/i:707fc92ac1][/u:707fc92ac1] HB, it’s covered by the same regulations, regulations which whenever referring to the business of claims and entitlements and payments all refer to “Housing Benefit” and not “Local Housing Allowance”. Perhaps it’s nothing to be concerned about, and I’m just obsessive about inconsequential things!

    In a sense though, I do agree that it would be desirable for everyone to be moved on to the LHA version of HB: The more I think about it, the more it seems positively unfair that Housing Association and council tenants should be excluded from benefitting, as they surely would…

    #95996
    jmembery
    Participant

    I am with Anselmo here, LHA replaced “Rent Allowance” not “Housing Benefit”, and not even that for some claims.

    #95997
    Anselmo
    Participant

    Thanks Jeff, that is exactly what I was trying to say, but summed up in one neat sentence, rather than several rambling paragraphs! 😀

    #95998
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Pedants’ corner: still not quite right. LHA [i:0d2f38df7d][u:0d2f38df7d]is[/u:0d2f38df7d][/i:0d2f38df7d] Rent Allowance. LHA replaced the LRR/CRR/SRR method of calculating eligible rent.

    Although as I said above, I see the advantage from a useful public information viewpoint, of presenting LHA in publicity material as a new benefit scheme altogether.[/u]

    #95999
    Anselmo
    Participant

    As usual you’re absolutely right. After my last post I looked again at regs and suspected exactly that, that LHA counted as a rent allowance.

    I do admire a good bit of pedantry!

    And I do still have my reservations about portraying it as a new benefit. Because [u:f8cc8bfd38]it just isn’t[/u:f8cc8bfd38]- and how can it be right to mislead customers? It sounds blunt, but if you deliberately tell/lead them to believe that this is a new benefit then that is, in terms, what you are doing.

    I must stress – I [i:f8cc8bfd38]can[/i:f8cc8bfd38] see the reasoning behind it, and see why it might be pragmatic, but to me you can’t make something clearer by distorting its very meaning. Goodness me I’m waxing philosophical today!

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