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Housing benefit advice


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Hi, am hoping someone can offer me some advice, its a long story so apologies and please bear with me.

 

18 months ago 3 children of a family member were placed with me by social services. At the time i was living (quite comfortable) with my own 2 children in a 3 bed house. In order to stop the 'new arrivals' from being taken into the care system i was told i must move into a bigger property. Council wouldnt help as they said until everything went to final hearing the children could only be classed as living with me tempararily. So I had to take private rented accommodation. ( had to give up work when the children arrived)

 

After a very long fight Social services now pay me a maintainence allowance. This is equivilent to foster care allowance minus the money that foster carers get for birthdays, holidays, christmas, clothing, travel. Being in receipt of this allowance means I cant claim Child benefit or tax credits for these children, only for my own. The maintainence works out around £755 per month for all 3 children. I am not classed as a LA foster carer.

 

A new HB application went in for the bigger property. am still waiting for written confirmation of the figures but it appears that there will be a shortfall of around £300 per month. Verbally council have said that this is because the housing benefit can be worked out in one of two ways. Either they can

 

a) Take the maintainence payments fully into account as an income and work out HB that way

 

b) they can disregard the children, and the maintainence payments, and work out the HB based my own income and on our need for a 3 bed house.

 

They also said the children are being disregarded anyway as they are still not classed as permanent despite 2 now being on Interim residence orders.

 

I have been inrormed that there is a possibility that these types of maintainence allowance, along with residence order and Special guardianship allowance are discounted (or a portion of), and have been directed to the OPSI website for further information, but to be honest, the jargon, schedules and sub paragraphs completely confuse me and i cant make head nor tail of it.

 

I cant also fathom how they can completely discount the children as not being permanent, they have been with me for 18 months now, 2 are on IRO's giving me the bulk of parental responsibility, and when we get to final hearing (sometime early next year) there is no doubt we will be granted full Residence orders for them all.

 

Any help would be gratefully appreciated.

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BUMP -

 

I've no idea on this sorry, but hopefully someone with the expertise and knowledge can come and help. (And this post will move it to the top of the forum for people to see)

Thanks

- Hobbie

 

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Under no circumstances should you speak with a Debt Collections Agency via telephone, request that all future correspondence is done in writing, a letter template for this can be located here.

 

Any views expressed are solely that of my own, any advice or information offered is provided in genuine good faith, and should be checked prior to acting upon.

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I think I'd be inclined to contact welfare rights.

What exactly are they calling the allowance?

I don't see how they can disregard the children, as an IRO is giving you residence of the children until the final hearing - HB should be worked out on what your current circumstances are.

Who is claiming Child Benefit?

Have you discussed this with the children’s social worker?

Have they supported you to find suitable social housing for the whole family?

Consumer Health Forums - where you can discuss any health or relationship matters.

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What exactly are they calling the allowance?

 

Social services are saying that its a form of maintainence allowance, but not fostercare allowance. They wont elaborate on this.

 

who is claiming Child Benefit?
No one! When the case goes to final hearing they payments will change from what they are now to Residence order payments which will be reduced to take into account CB and tax credits, and then i will be able to claim these. As long as the 'maintainence' is in force we are not entitled to either.

 

Have you discussed this with the children's social worker
we converted the dining room into a bedroom for the girls in the old house, not ideal by any means but workable. It was Social Services, through the courts who insisted if the children were to remain then we needed a bigger property and the girls had to have a dedicated bedroom. They were told of the councils refusal to help and informed of the massive hike in rent from a 3 bed to a 4 bed property. rent went from £585 pcm to £850 pcm, Not interested, not their problem!!

 

Have they supported you to find suitable social housing for the whole family
No!! they stated that the only barr to the children remaining within the family was the housing, with that resolved they would fully support any and all applications to keep the children (which they have done), Social services were asked to contact the council to support our application for larger property to facilitate this and they refused. We have had to find suitable housing without any support.

 

I don't see how they can disregard the children, as an IRO is giving you residence of the children until the final hearing - HB should be worked out on what your current circumstances are.
I cant see it either, but thats what they are (or appear to be) doing.
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I think I would be inclined to tell the girls social worker that if support for housing and finances is not forthcoming then you will have to rethink your position and the local authority will have to accommodate the children, as you have neither the accommodation or financial security to do so. Don't worry that they will actually remove the children from you - as this is against every procedure and the new laws that recently came into force regarding accommodating children.

 

I'm a little confused about the CTC and CB as you should be getting this now - have you spoke to them direct?

Ask for a complaints form and complain about the lack of suppot.

Ask Housing Benefit to put their calculations in writing.

 

Are you on the housing list?

Consumer Health Forums - where you can discuss any health or relationship matters.

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Yes, we are on the housing list, but its very unlikely we will be offered anything anytime soon as, thanks to the council disregarding 3 children, we are technically overhoused. Hence the private rental we are in.

 

I have been in touch with CB and CTC several times, the sticking point seems to be this SS payment. they are adamant its purely to maintain the children and not a 'wage'. Because of that No one seems to know what section to put it in other than foster care allowance.

 

The money cant be fostercare as i havnt been assessed and approved as a foster carer, the payments dont include things that approved foster carers get, such as travel allowance, clothing allowance, holiday, christmas, birthdays, school trips or an amount that counts as a wage.

 

I just keep going round in circles with it all.

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Im still waiting for the council to come back with their figures.

 

the 'maintainence' payments, all i have is a copy of an email sent to the Social worker from her manager confirming it was maintainence payments. They also confirmed im not entitled to claim CB or CTC while receiving them.

 

CB confirmed that if someone is in receipt of 'fostercare' then CB wouldnt be paid. CTC said the same thing.

 

the payments are not classed as fostercare by SS but are by everyone else despite SS saying they arent.

 

There are differing opinions as to wether it should be counted or not because regardless if its foster care or maintainence, its a Social Services payment for the upkeep of a child whos technically their responsibility.

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Not technially - these children are the responsibility of the LA.

Why is the RO taking so long to get to final hearing?

 

I am going to get someone to explain to you about claiming WTC, whilst in receipt of foster payments. Are either you or your partner employed at present?

Consumer Health Forums - where you can discuss any health or relationship matters.

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You should have a look at this HMRC fact sheet: http://lime-technology.com/dnlds/unRAID%20Server%204.3.1.zip

 

Foster Care Relief basically means that yoor total receipt from fostering are disregarded as income up to a pretty high amount (i.e. way more than you will be getting for your maintenance).

 

Note the wording in the following excerpt:

Who does the relief apply to?

 

Foster care relief applies to people who get income from providing foster care to children and young people, placed with them either by local authorities (Health and Social Services (HSS) Trusts in Northern Ireland) or independent fostering providers. If you receive this income we normally treat you as being self-employed.

 

 

The relief does not apply to private fostering arrangements.

All it says is that you have to get 'income' from the LA for fostering. It doesn't say that it has to be classified as being for maintenance or anything else.

 

What it means in total is that for tax and benefits they should completely disregard any income from fostering. The flip side to this is that they will also disregard the looked after children, so you won't be able to claim anything for them.

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The opinions on this post are those of Robertxc and not necessarily the opinions of the group and do not constitute sound legal advice. You are advised to seek professional legal advice.

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Have you tried involving your MP - this situation seems very unfair and they may be able to rattle some cages for you.

Poppynurse :)

 

If my comments have been helpful please click my scales!!!!

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