Any help or advise on where to go on this would be most welcome please as it's a battle I've been fighting for just over 6 years, without a break, and I NEED to get the Pension Service to put right the ultra vires decision (on the wrong legislation) and recieve the back pay owed. I am 110% correct in my findings from both DMG and legislation, the Pension Service are completely wrong and no-one will look at it. I list below a copy of the letter I have last sent, a brief outline of events leading to the wrongful withdrawal, by the Pension Service (PS), of allowable housing costs, with evidence.
Brief Background History
As a result of a divorce and Court proceedings an order was issued for me to acquire my ex-husband’s share in the house within a specified time limit of the Divorce. We had a joint mortgage for £30000 on our home.
I had to remortgage (i) to redeem the original mortgage balance of £27108 and (ii) add £22500 equity acquisition to be paid to my ex-husband’s solicitors within a Court-specified time limit and (iii) to cover legal aid and other acquisition costs involved. However the costs amount was not only unknown but unexpectedly delayed until late 2008 because of solicitor errors.
There was absolutely no problem with IS and they let me know that acquiring my ex-husband’s equity share in the house was an allowable housing cost. I received housing costs as Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI), paid direct to lender, as part of IS. The relevant letter from Wendy Steele, IS Decision Maker dated 02.06.06 quoted:
“The Income Support (General) Regulations 1987, No. 1967, Sch 3, para 4(6)(a), 15(1), 16(2), DMG 29825”.
After my having to involve the Law Society regarding solicitor error and resulting Legal Services Commission (LSC) error, they were resolved in my favour and as a result the LSC wrote and apologised for their error and issued the amount of legal costs to be paid back for legal aid of £5875. There was also a £500 arrangement fee and £350 broker’s fee which had to be added to the legal aid bill of £5875 making basic acquisition costs of £6725.
In August 2007, on reaching age 60, I was transferred from Income Support to Pension Credit and housing costs, including the equity acquisition of my ex-husband’s share of the home, remained the same without question, as confirmed in writing by the Pension Service (PS) State Pension Credit Regs, Schedule 2, para 11, DMG 78407 – 78410. However they failed to allow the full original mortgage redemption of £27,108 because evidence had been burned by my ex-husband so I had no proof of full allowable costs, e.g. conservatory (est) £4200). Only £17776.66 was allowed as per receipt evidence.
Since the beginning of the re-mortgage IS (and later the PS) were advised of the delay in submitting legal costs because of solicitor and LSC errors but after the acquisition costs were established, late 2008, I requested that the PS added these costs to my SMI now that the matter was resolved and the amount was known.
I repeated the request for acquisition costs to be added several times between late 2008 and July 2009 because each request was ignored.
In response to yet another request to add costs, in July 2009 “Abdul” (no surname given), instead of adding acquisition costs to SMI, informed me that I was not allowed to acquire an interest in my home and that SMI for it was stopped! The reason given was that the PS had made a mistake.
This error of one lone PS employee caused the whole fiasco from which I have suffered very badly. His error opposed all correctly decided housing costs by IS and PS Decision Makers and all other current Government information whether written or online and Case Law and this miscarriage of justice to my very great detriment has not been addressed or corrected!
I appealed which was denied. I telephoned IS who were at a loss as to know why the PS had stopped SMI because acquiring an interest in my home was an allowable housing cost. Buying out an ex-partner (my case) is even exampled in detail in Decision Makers Guides (DMGs) (78405, 78407, 78409) and clearly specified in other Government information and Case law.
I have struggled without ceasing to get this miscarriage of justice corrected whilst my financial situation has become more and more extremely serious. This goes against the very reason for the legislation being passed in the first place.
I repeatedly requested specific responses to the following because these were all correctly applicable to my case as initially determined by both IS and the PS:
(i) the relevant legislation (SPC Regs 2002, Schedule 2, para 11),
(ii) the relevant DMGs 78405, 78407, 78409,
(iii) all current online and documented Government information and
(iv) all relevant Case Law
The specific responses were not addressed and, because of my persistence in trying to get the PS unlawful disallowance of legislated housing costs reversed, I was told by the PS that I would no longer be responded to except by way of acknowledgement of my correspondence.
I have been disgracefully treated, dismissed and ignored over a long period of time. I have been denied any opportunity to represent myself at any interview, local or otherwise despite repeatedly explaining the extremely severe financial difficulties and anxiety/distress caused to me by the PSby the refusal to address the specific issues raised which would have resulted in reinstatement of my housing costs.
Would you very kindly urgently look at the simple and uncomplicated facts relevant to my claimant category (residential homeowner acquiring an interest in my home) and the applicable legislation relevant to it, SPC Regs 2002, Schedule 2, para 11, the DMGs that apply to Schedule 2, para 11, 78405, 78407, 78409 and if necessary confirmatory Government information and Case Law and reinstate my housing costs from the unlawful disallowance. I am happy to supply any information and/or documents should they be required.
To avoid any complication in looking at the above request, I would add that I am not and never have been a renter and therefore I have never been in receipt of housing benefit via the local council. I have only re-mortgaged once to acquire my ex-husband’s share in my home by Court Order.
My case is very simple and straightforward:
I am a residential homeowner acquiring an interest in my home which is an allowable housing cost as per:
State Pension Credit Regs 2002, Schedule 2, para 11:
Loans on residential property
11.—(1) A loan qualifies under this paragraph where the loan was taken out to defray monies applied for any of the following purposes—
(a)acquiring an interest in the dwelling occupied as the home; or
(b)paying off another loan to the extent that the other loan would have qualified under head (a) above had the loan not been paid off.
(2) For the purposes of this paragraph, references to a loan include also a reference to money borrowed under a hire purchase agreement for any purpose specified in heads (a) and (b) of sub-paragraph (l).
(3) Where a loan is applied only in part for the purposes specified in heads (a) and (b) of sub-paragraph (1), only that portion of the loan which is applied for that purpose shall qualify under this paragraph.
The mandatory guidance referenced to the legislation above and which Decision Makers are obliged to follow is DMGs, 78405 – 78409 as copied below.
Note: The suspension of IS from 6th March 2006 to 10th May 2006 referred to above (on the screenshot from the Pension Service dated 2010) was due to the remortgage funds being released through my bank to pay my ex-husbands solicitors for the acquisition. This is normal banking procedure and the money was paid out immediately.
A decision maker decided that the remortgage funds constituted savings and therefore I wasn’t entitled to any Income Support or housing costs. This inappropriate decision was readily acknowledged by the people I spoke to at the IS department but I still had to go through the process of Tribunal to get this folly reversed by 10th May.
None of the above circumstances (screen-shot) relates to a residential homeowner acquiring an interest in the home. That legislation is found in SPC Regs 2002, Schedule 2, para 11 and DMGs 78405, 78407, 78409. None of the DMG in the PS screenshot refer to acquiring an interest in the home or to Schedule 2, para 11. The DMGs which reference para 11 have been omitted by the PS and the PS Decision Maker has justified his error with irrelevant and unreferenced DMGs and faulty reasoning based on legislation totally inapplicable and irrelevant to my case.
This Decision Maker’s faulty reasoning can be seen on examination. He stated above that increases are only allowable in points 1-5 listed. This is an error and the descriptions of points 1 and 2 above especially shows no understanding of the legislation.
In point 1 above there is no increase in housing costs in a relevant period (1994/5 legislation brought in to prevent up-marketing by a full homeowner taking out a loan (e.g. change of lender, equity release) to either stay in the same home or move to a different one. The housing costs payable currently will not be increased. There is no relevance to acquiring an interest in the home in this provision of Schedule 2, para 5(7)(a)(b). This legislation is not interchangeable with Schedule 2, para 11 and cannot be applied to para 11. DMGs clearly reference each one and neither is interchangeable.
In point 2 above there is no increase in housing costs in a relevant period (1994/5 legislation brought in to prevent up-marketing by changing from renting to buying in a relevant period. If a renter acquires an interest (becomes owner/co-owner Rent to Buy Scheme especially) then he must qualify by being in receipt of housing benefit payable to renters via the local council the week before the acquisition and the amount of SMI payable direct to lender will not exceed the amount of housing benefit previously paid via the local council. There will not be an increase in housing costs allowable.
This legislation is not interchangeable with Schedule 2, para 11 and cannot be applied to para 11. DMGs clearly reference each one and neither is interchangeable.
In points 3 and 4 above the circumstances have to be individually determined by the Decision Makers and some increase in housing costs can be allowable.
In point 5 above other housing costs specifically exclude involvement of para 11 (residential homeowners acquiring an interest in the home) and there is no reference to para 11 in the relevant DMG.
Many thanks and I would be so grateful for any help on how to get this sorted as I'm just hitting my head on a brick wall with every letter written.