New Claims

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    Can I ask for opinions – currently if an existing claimant swaps roles with their partner it is treated as a new claim as the previous claim ended when the claimant ceased to be the claimant.
    If a claimant and partner swap roles, on or after 7.4.08,can we still treat the resultant ‘new claim’ as any other new claim made post 7.4.08 and use the LHA maximum rent figure?

    Julian Stanbury

    Hi, just some random thoughts below.

    A claim can only be withdrawn before a decision is made.

    Once a claim is decided it stays in payment until the claimants circumstances fail to satisfy the conditions of entitlement or it is terminated following suspension.

    Conseqeuntly it seems very difficult to stop getting benefit because it would suit you.

    I can’t work out how roles can be swapped other than by ending entitlement and I can’t work out how the customers could use role swapping as a way of ending entitlement either. The can’t withdraw the claim as its already decided.

    Under the old review system swapping turned up quite a bit. And as one period had ended, they could make whoever they wanted the claimant for the next one.

    Once reviews went away (probably to return again some day, they may already be here in some form) I can’t see how you can swap roles without benefit ending due to either lack of entitlement of termination.

    If it did end due to one of those reasons, the next claim, no matter who the claimant was, could fall under LHA.

    Hope that helps, and I would welcome other opinions.


    By-the-way: haven’t read the LHA regs completely so if there is a reg to encourage husband or wife or partner swapping – i am, as yet, blissfully unaware.


    [quote:a5c6ff3dda]A claim can only be withdrawn before a decision is made[/quote:a5c6ff3dda]

    Well, yes, that’s what the regs tell us, but Mr Commissioner Mesher thinks differently – see [b:a5c6ff3dda]CJSA/3979/1999[/b:a5c6ff3dda]. Whether the Commissioner’s views could be stretched to encompass a desire to change the claimant/partner rôles is another matter – could such a desire be construed as a change of circumstances, perhaps? (Just thinking out loud, there.)


    I have read this thread and others on a similar theme in the recent past and find it hard to accept that once a claimant applies for and is awarded HB it will stay in payment, whether he or she wants, until a change in circumstances extinguishs any entitlement.
    Surely this over-rides an individuals common law right to either claim or not claim, or receive or not receive, any state benefit and that if an individual communicates to the benefits office that he/she wants his claim terminated we should insist ‘ sorry, you formally made the claim and are now stuck with it whether you want it or not’.
    Until I am otherwise convinced, my view and instruction to my staff is to terminate entitlement in such situations, obviously being alert to and reacting to any information that might suggest entitlement should have ended sooner.
    Used to be common practice, and still is, for DWP fraud officers to ‘persuade’ a claimant to sign off/end their claim where they were suspicious about the declared circumstances but couldn’t quite establish beyond doubt that there was other income, that the partner was resident, etc.

    On the subject, here’s a poser for LHA puposes, as this is the thread under which the issue has been raised; if a landlord and tenant colluded and the tenancy, including liability to pay, is formally ended surely that information would require the claim to be reviewed and subsequently terminated.Nothing to stop a new tenancy and liability being created a week or so later necessitating a new claim.OK,I hear you all cry that the new tenancy has been created to take advantage of HB. So what would you then do? Accept the claim but assess using the old rental liability or what?

    My bigger worry is that we have an awful lot of claims which started out as a short assured tenancy or an assured tenancy for a fixed period but the tenant has continued to live in the accommodation beyond that tenancy end date without a new period of tenancy as long as the expired tenancy conditions continue to be met , specifically the rent paid.No reason why we should terminate the HB so they run on. Landlords with accommodation that might attract a higher LHA may seek to end these tenancy ‘run-ons’ with a view to bringing in new tenants with a new LHA claim.Could be a lot of upheaval for some vulnerable people.I know the voluntary sector, especially CPAG, are worried about this consequence of phasing in LHA for new claimants only.

    What a mess this improvement/simplification is turning out to be.


    Peem, let me clarify this for you and others. LHA is not more or less generous than previous schemes, Peter may present examples to show that it is but the public spending review provided no additional resource for HB – this is the same amount of money between the same amount of claimants. LHA is the first scheme that addresses continually increasing HB costs and as it is based on the median rent level 50% of properties will be at or below LHA levels and 50% of properties will have rents above these levels.

    Tenants on statutory ongoing tenancies have the same rights as tenants under a six month tenancy but they are not liable for paying however many months remain of the rent should they choose to move. There will be no incentive for landlords to end tenancies because of the introduction of LHA. Why would they? The very very broad market rental areas will severely reduce benefit levels in towns. In addition to this, the tenant has the ability to get paid HB direct to their landlord, but not under LHA.

    I have heard many criticisms about LHA, in particular the ghettoisation of benefits but not that one. The £15 cap is making people think that the scheme is a bonanza for claimants and this is not the case. Again, I say – DWP – VERY STUPID MOVE and I am glad to say I am not alone with this thought.

    [quote:fa4034bf72]34. Tenants on LHA can keep any benefit they receive over and above the amount of rent they have to pay. The DWP proposes that these gains should be capped to remove discrepancies between different areas some of which have more generous LHAs than others, to protect work incentives and remove any incentive to overcrowd. This proposal will reintroduce complexity into the scheme and negate the administrative gains which have been made so far. Whilst there is some evidence that claimants use the money gained from LHA to subsidise low benefit levels, for instance using it to pay off rent arrears caused by previous shortfalls, there does not seem to be any evidence that claimants move into overcrowded accommodation to gain from the LHA; gains seem to reflect existing overcrowding.[/quote:fa4034bf72] (Welfare Reform Bill: Second Reading briefing from CPAG )


    So at the heel of the hunt, Sean, should the £15 now be referred to as OUCH?

    [size=9:b2bd676b75][color=red:b2bd676b75]O[/color:b2bd676b75]vercrowded, [color=red:b2bd676b75]U[/color:b2bd676b75]nder-funded [color=red:b2bd676b75]C[/color:b2bd676b75]ash [color=red:b2bd676b75]H[/color:b2bd676b75]andout[/size:b2bd676b75]


    Thanks for your view, Sean.I guess the first indication we will have as to whether this is a more generous or less generous scheme will come at the end of this month by which time the Rent Service have promised to release to each authority indicative LHA figures (for their early information only but not to be made public until updated figures are made available in January).
    I certainly recall a senior HB policy officer at a seminar explaining that phasing in for new claims only was needed because of the sudden hike in national HB benefit costs that will result from the introduction of LHA. I also understand that expenditure on private sector HB has gone through the roof in the pathfinder authorities since they took on LHA, hence the cap for the roll out.


    I am sure you are right about the overall budget Sean; the point though is the impact on individual claimants. Theoretically 50% of claimants should be entitled to the top-up. The ones living in expensive properties will not be geting the extra money – they may / wil get loss. Its the ones living in poor standard accommodation with limited rights. Fair enough I say…but justifying why others living in the same accommodation will NOT be geting the extra is trickier.


    There was always likely to be an initial large increase in costs, in part this would have come from those tenants whose rents were below the LHA rate, we tend not to hear from those whose rents are below the Local Reference Rent but they are the direct beneficiaries of this scheme.

    The main reason for the initial increase in costs in the Pathfinder areas is that these were funded to make the scheme work. However the experience of another poster (Andy Richards) is quite telling.

    [quote:04a2949ac5]Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2007 12:22 pm
    Just out of interest and in response to Sean, as of this month all of Brighton and Hove’s LHA amounts have now remained unchanged for a year.

    Not sure what that demonstrates or proves but it may be of interest.

    We have eliminated the possibility that the Rent Service has simply shut up shop but left one PC on to send us an automated email at the end of every month [/quote:04a2949ac5]

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