Should we award Underlying Entitlement?

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    You are all so helpful so thought I would ask your opinions on this one my colleague asked me about this morning.

    Claim cancelled because claimant moved. OP created for 5 weeks.
    Last cheque sent covering the last 4 weeks was returned so this has been offset against the OP and reduced it to just 1 week.

    We work on the Northgate system and at the moment do not retain the same claim number when claimants move. So we set up a new claim for the new address on the new claim number but not from the date they moved in because they delayed in telling us.

    However, we do now know what their circumstances were for the period of the overpayment. Should we award them an underlying entitlement for the overpayment?

    Thank you in advance for any advice you can give me.


    You have to award them U/E for the relevant period if they have suuplied you with the details.

    The only reason not to consider u/e, and I think this is still a contentious one, is if you wrote out and gave the person one month to supply the details for the calculation of u/e and they did not do so. There are some people who would argue that this could be supplied at any time, and I do not believe there is a time limit with the HB / CTB regs, but if you have asked for the information, then your letter would give (I presume, a date by which this information had to be supplied, and you can then refuse, if you so wish, under the DMA regs.
    However, even if you did so, then you are now able to decide if it is reasonable to extend that period due to the circumstances of the claimant ( in the same way we would look at all cases where information is provided late. 8)

    We also work on Northgate and used to change the claim reference when a person moved. Because of this type of problem we no longer do so. 8)


    I can’t really think of anything to say other than “yes”.

    You must reduce the overpayment by UE as required by Reg 104.


    Not completely straightforward, this one.

    Extract from Reg 104 in its post-April 06 form:

    “104. (1) … in calculating the amount of a recoverable overpayment, the relevant authority shall deduct any amount of housing benefit which should have been determined to be payable in respect of the whole or part of the overpayment period—
    … (c) on the basis of the claim as it would have appeared if any change of circumstances, [b:2574f276a3]except a change of the dwelling which the claimant occupies as his home[/b:2574f276a3], had been notified at the time that change occurred.”

    In other words, you [b:2574f276a3]don’t[/b:2574f276a3] apply underlying entitlement by deducting what the claimant would have got for the new address.

    The purpose of this provision is to close a loophole that was previously available to landlords in cases where an overpayment is recoverable from the landlord: the landlord cannot say “I only owe you 50p because the overpayment needs to be reduced by underlying entitlement for the claimant’s new address, wherever that may be. Bit tough on the new landlord but that’s not my problem”.

    In a case where benefit is paid to the claimant, any overpayment for Address 1 is recoverable in full from arrears of entitlement for Address 2 – for all practical purposes that’s the same as underlying entitlement but it doesn’t go by that name. But where benefit was paid to the landlord, the overpayment for Address 1 is ring-fenced from the separate entitlement for Address 2. The main effect of this is that any overpayment for Address 1 cannot be clawed back in a lump sum from entitlement for Address 2: HB is paid twice, then recovered later. DWP obviously believes that the Address 1 overpayment will generally be recovered from the landlord; me, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think the overpayment will not be recoverable from the landlord very often under the new Reg 101.

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