Suggestions for a tactful response?

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  • #21364
    Anselmo
    Participant

    Hello all – bit of a moan coming here!

    We’re a Registered Social Landlord, and receive a large volume of Housing Benefit letters from a great many local authorities.

    Some are really on the ball, know their stuff, give great service and it’s a pleasure dealing with them.

    What is really starting to get on my nerves is that many are stil sending letters and notifications that refer to the Housing Benefit Regulations [b:85cfec180d]1987[/b:85cfec180d]

    Maybe this seems churlish, and I appreciate that changing standard letters may take a little while, but it’s now well over a year since those regulations were made obsolete, so to me it seems that notifications should not still say that the decisions have been made under them.

    Also, it is a little annoying being informed about our (now significantly altered) rights regarding the repaying of overpayments, based on old, out of date, obsolete and long-since replaced regulations.

    Can anyone suggest a tactful way that we might suggest to these authorities that they really might be better off quoting (and working to) the 2006 regs?

    Ok, rant over! But it is a serious question – do people think I should raise this with authorities? Does it have any practical effect on the validity of their decisions? How would it affect appeals when decisions are made under repealed regulations? Am I thinking about this too much?!??!

    Any thoughts welcome.

    Thanks

    #5109
    markp
    Participant

    How about arranging an appointment with them and discussing it ace to face, not just with management, but with processing staff as well. It may come across better.

    Do I know what I'm doing? The jury's out on that........................

    #5110
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Dear Sirs

    [b:04f5aa829d]Housing Benefit Notification Letters[/b:04f5aa829d]

    As you will doubtless be aware, your Authority routinely issues notification letters to the Association in cases where Housing Benefit is to be paid direct, where recoverable overpayments have occurred and so forth, as required by the legislation.

    Whilst the Association is obliged that the Authority carries out its statutory obligations so conscientiously, it is a matter of concern to note that the letters in question cite the Housing Benefit (General) Regulations 1987 which, as you will also doubtless be aware, were made obsolete when replaced in April 2006 by the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006.

    As the Association receives notification letters from a number of authorities, the majority of which cite the 2006 regulations, this discrepancy causes some confusion for the Association when dealing with issues such as recoverable overpayments, not least as a result of the fact that Regulation 101 of the 2006 regulations has considerably altered the Authority’s powers in regard to the ability to recover overpayments from the Association.

    Indeed, since an overpayment decision made in, say, August 2007 could not possibly have been made under the 1987 regulations, one may argue that the decision notice is invalid. It would, therefore, follow that the overpayment could not be recovered from the Association as proper notification has not been made, leaving any attempt to recover from the Association open to legal challenge.

    The Association has no wish to engage in lengthy challenges of this nature, but would be most grateful if the Authority would consider revising its notification letters to cite the legislation that is now in force as a matter of some urgency.

    Yours faithfully …

    #5111
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Anselmo, take one to TAS and point out that the Regs on the letters are obsolete.

    There’s a very good chance the chair will say “invalid OP decision so no OP”. I bet that would get the letters changed!

    #5112
    Anonymous
    Guest

    … and while we’re on the subject of obsolescence, let’s not forget that on 1 April 2006 The Appeals Service ceased to exist and became The Tribunals Service.

    [size=9:325b86e5e7][color=red:325b86e5e7]I’ll get my coat …[/color:325b86e5e7][/size:325b86e5e7]

    #5113
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Pedant 😀

    #5114
    Anonymous
    Guest

    [i:454de64a2a]Mea maxima culpa[/i:454de64a2a]

    #5115
    Anselmo
    Participant

    All good suggestions, thanks everyone.

    In particular I am tempted to add a paragraph to my next appeal letter pointing out that their notification is invalid- a pointed but hopefully not too confrontational approach. 😈

    #5116
    Anselmo
    Participant

    A quick postscript to this: I don’t know if it’s the done thing to name names, but hopefully as this is a positive statement it should be ok!

    Just wanted to take my hat off to North East Lincolnshire Council who recently sent me possibly the finest overpayment notification I’ve ever had! Clear, precise, referenced the correct regulations and even described the process of working out who is liable to repay the o/p, with reference to the relevant Comms decisions. Top notch!

    Perhaps if anyone from that authority visits this site they could put it in the “Library” sectiom?… 😀

    #5117
    Ozzies Mate
    Participant

    Hey worse than local authorities still referring to the 1987 regs a colleague who has recently started IRRV accrediation has pointed out that they to bear no reference to the 2006 regs in any of their reg quotations….

    #5118
    Anselmo
    Participant

    Another tactful response needed I’m afraid!! I seem to be having a few problems with LAs lately, I promise I’m not moaning for the sake of it!

    A new tenant submitted a HB claim. Two weeks later they had not heard anything so they asked the council for an update and they declared they had not had a claim from them. Thankfully the tenant was able to produce a receipt for the claim and hey presto the claim was found! So far so good. However, we were then advised that the Housing Benefit claim cannot be processed, even though all info has been supplied, because there is apparently no Council Tax Benefit claim in with it and the two benefits “are interlinked”.

    Now, a number of alarm bells started ringing here- unless I am going barmy and have seriously misunderstood things, the two benefits are most certainly not interlinked – they are two totally separate benefits that pay two totally separate things. I was really quite taken aback by their claim they are interlinked. The other thing is that I am almost certain that that authority, like most, uses a combined claim form for both benefits, so I don’t see how a CTB claim is not also in anyway. I have a hunch that what they really mean is that their ctax section has not set up their ctax account yet, and if that’s the case, there’s surely no way that should hold up the HB claim, right? If nothing else they’re hurting their own stats I would have thought!

    Sorry for the mini rant but if someone could confirm my position and suggest a diplomatic response I would be most grateful.

    Many thanks.

    [It’s a shame because the LA in question is normally very good, to be fair.]

    #5119
    markp
    Participant

    What does their application form state it covers? If it says both benefits then both claims have been made. However, I’m more used to seeing CTB paid before HB (especially in private sector claims) so we definitely don’t take the route you describe.

    response (very tempting to launch isn’t it!)

    Dear Sir

    regarding the HB position. Your application cearly states xxxxxxxx so an application has been made. I should be grateful if you would make a decision on it as soon as practicable and if no decision can be made then you should made a payment on account as detailed in Regulation 93 of the HB regs. Should this not be forhcoming I may have no alternative other than to make a formal complaint to your Chief Exec.

    I look forward to receiving your reply.

    Do I know what I'm doing? The jury's out on that........................

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