LTAHW in different households?

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  • #38989
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Hi this may be a stupid question as I am aware of the caselaw etc but have a fraud case where a claimant receives ESA(IR) for him and his partner. It turns out his partner has been working running a pub earning a large wage. She states she moved out to live in the pub with their grown up disabled and he stayed in the house on his own. Other than this they shared finances and maintained a relationship, they were married. The only reason he did not move into the pub was that the tenancy was not secure and they did not want to lose the tenancy on the house. He has now moved into the pub. For the past period can they be classed as LTAHW even though they were in seperate households as this had been contrived to defraud the benefits system and she admitted dishonesty?

    #110473
    Kevin D
    Participant

    The definition of “couple” in HBR 2(1) and s.137 SSCBA 1992 expressly provides a husband and wife must be members of the same household in order to constitute a “couple” for HB/CTB. It’s a “simple” binary “yes/no” as to whether they were in the same household.

    There is no legal provision to penalise arrangements where two people are an “item” but deliberately choose to maintain separate households in order that one, or both, get more benefit.

    If, as is indicated in the OP, “…they were in separate households…” they were not a couple for benefit purposes. It may well be they acted in the belief they were taking the benefits system for a ride but, as it happens, what they were doing was lawful. On that basis, it’s difficult to see how a fraud related prosecution would be successful.

    A sort of analogy is this: a driver is pulled over by the Police and immediately “admits” to speeding having been travelling at, say, 38mph. However, it turns out the speed limit is 40mph. As no offence has been committed, the driver hasn’t admitted to an offence.

    Whether this is how the law *should* be, is another matter. But it’s irrelevant; the law is as it is, rightly or wrongly.

    #110477
    jamcon
    Participant

    It may well be that they were still a household, although whether they reported they were not of the same household fraudulently or due to an honest belief they were not is another matter. The old Court of Appeal case Santos v Santos looked at physical separation and whether there was no joint household in some detail. The judges came to the conclusion physical separation, even over a relatively long period of time, did not mean there was no household. I presume the couple did spend some time together and that the distance was not so great that it was impossible for them to do so. Santos v Santos can be rad here:-

    http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/1972/9.html

    #110482
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Thanks for that, form what I can gather they spent time together, she made his meals etc and they still acted as a married couple but slept in differernt houses simply to retain the tenancy on the other house and retain his benefits. I am inclined to agree that they were not a couple for benefit purposes although I do find it slightly irritating!

    #110483
    Amanda JB
    Participant

    Hi

    Cant’ reg 21(1) be applied in that the absence from home was only temporary, until maybe such a time they were satified that the tenancy at the pub was more secure?

    I am sure that in couples where one member lives/stays away due to his work, the remaining partner is not treated as a single person, isnt this the same principle?

    #110484
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I am not so sure as the absence was not intended to be temporary the intention was that they would both move into the pub as soon as the tenure was more secure and the other property was kept on as a kind of saftey net?

    #110485
    Amanda JB
    Participant

    Doesnt what you just said means that they were only living away from the other temporary? therfore satisfying reg 21(1)

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