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Housing Benefit cut means losing home - please help


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Hello all, It's my first time posting here and I hope someone can help me, I really don't know what to do. I hope this isn't too garbled as I'm really upset and desperate.

 

I have been living in my 3 bedroom house for two years, and earlier this year I split up with my partner, meaning I stayed here with my three children, aged 2, 5 and 20 (I know, it's a big gap!).

 

I am also disabled (undergoing tests) and receive Incapacity Benefit and lower rate DLA. I have family living in the same street and they help me with the little ones as I don't have full use of my hands and am often in a lot of pain in my back and legs. In October, my son went away to university, he is in halls but has to come home in the holidays as this is term time accommodation only. He is also often home at weekends.

 

In October I had a home visit from the Housing Benefit department and they did an assessment. I received a letter saying my entitlement hadn't changed - all ok then.

 

Today I had a phone call saying that they need to urgently reassess my case as my son is 'no longer living at the address'. I said that it was his main address and she asked me where his bank statements and bills get sent and I told her they come here (which they do). She said that because he pays for accommodation elsewhere he can no longer be included on my housing benefit claim.

 

I asked why this was not told to me at the home visit or picked up by anyone who dealt with the assessment and basically they are trying to say I didn't give them the information so it is my fault but I KNOW that the woman who did the home visit asked me about it as he had only just left for uni and was due home that weekend. I also have a copy of a letter I sent in July saying that my son would be starting university in September but I have no proof of posting it.

 

They are also saying that they have tried to contact me 'repeatedly' but the only letter I have received was a reminder to send in a form the housing benefit officer had left with me. They have my mobile number and my email address but I haven't heard anything from them but I can't prove this either and I feel powerless against them

 

The upshot is that they are reducing my LHA from needing a 3 bedroom house to a 2 bedroom house, a drop of £130 a month which I cannot make up and I was obviously upset on the phone because it means I will lose my home. I asked her where I was supposed to let my 20 year old son stay at weekends and holidays, especially the long summer holdiays when - oh the irony! - he has an internship working with...my local council!

 

As a 'gesture of goodwill' they are not backdating the 'overpayment' to September so I won't owe them money back but that's no help to me. My next housing benefit payment is due at the end of the week in order to pay the rent on January 1st and I don't know how I'm even going to find the money to do that within two weeks.

 

I am petrified about how I am going to manage with the children without family nearby to help me out when I am finding it difficult to walk or to use my hands. I also don't know what I'm going to do as I have no savings for a deposit and the last time I tried to contact agencies about renting houses they didn't want to know because I am on benefits. I don't know what to worry about first, not being able to pay this month's rent, how to tell my son I have nowhere for him to stay in the holidays, where I'm going to live and if I will be allowed to have my children with me if my health degenerates and I am not in the same road as my family to help me out. The rent is very reasonable and the lower end of average and my landlord is happy for us to rent long term, I thought my children would grow up here.

 

I'm not expecting something for nothing, I have worked all my life until I became ill and once I get a diagnosis I hope to get treatment that will enable me to go back. I just need a bit of help now and the safety net has been ripped away.I just can't believe it's Christmas next week and all this is happening. Every time I look at my children I burst into tears because I can't keep their home for them. I can't stop shaking.

 

If anyone can help point me in the right direction of what to do I'd be so grateful

 

Thank you

 

Pixy

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Hi,

Sorry you were missed.

I can't offer much but this:

 

http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/paying_for_a_home/housing_benefit_and_local_housing_allowance/discretionary_housing_payments

 

Most councils have discretionary housing payments so I think that's the way to go initially

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Thank you, I will look into the discretionary payments although if I go that route does it mean I've accepted that they are right to reduce it like this? Is there any information I can read about the rules regarding LHA and how the assessments are applied when a child is at university? They were adamant that this reduction is made for everyone who has a child at university but I do keep a close eye on what's going on and I'm sure this would have been highlighted somewhere if lots of families were facing losing their home because a child is at uni.

 

Thank you

 

Pixy

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The university element won't have any bearing on it, more what they consider his main residence to be. They can't make a reduction for everyone whose grown child has gone to university but they can make a reduction if that grown child no longer is accepted as normally "occupying" the dwelling. If he spends most of his time at another residency as a tenant (the halls of residence) it may well be that they consider that as his main residence, thus do not accept him as an "occupier" for the purpose of calculating the bedroom allowance of LHA.

 

As your son is 20, he is no longer treated as a "child or young person" for the purpose of benefits; he is treated as a non dependent. A non dependent can be treated as an occupier, if the local authority are satisfied that the non dependent occupies the dwelling as their home. I think essentially what they are getting at, is that they do not accept that your son occupies the dwelling as his home, because he normally lives elsewhere as a tenant.

 

Local Housing Allowance Guidance Manual

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Hi Erika

 

I understand that my son is now a non-dependent, it really does come down to where they treat his main residence. My point is that they are accepting that I need to have a three bedroom house during all the holiday periods because it is against their own guidance for a 20 year old man to have to share with a 5 year old girl (an arrangement which he would dislike more than her I think!). My argument is that my family needs are for a three bedroom house because my son is here so many weeks of the year. He is also on the electoral roll here, his passport and driving licence are registered here and all his post comes here. If we were forced to move to a two bedroom house then I would not be able to accommodate my son during the holidays when he has nowhere else to live except to come home.

 

My other point is that it is living in this house, where I have three family members in the same road who enable me to live independently and look after my children. I had no idea when we moved in here that my partner would leave or that my son would be off to university, or even that my health would deteriorate so quickly but it's the situation I find myself in and I rely very much on my father in law in particular who takes my daughter to school when I am unable to and helps out. for example, he is ill tonight and wasn't able to come round and my 2 year old has fallen asleep downstairs. My FIL would normally come over and carry him up when he does that, as he is unavailable tonight I have to sleep downstairs. I don't have full use of my hands, or sometimes my legs and I suffer from mental health problems including agoraphobia so I do rely very heavily on having help so close by and this decision would mean not only having to move but having to have that help funded instead. I'm trying to make the point to them that it is cheaper to keep me here I guess!

 

I suppose the other thing for me is that with the mental health problems home is a really 'safe place' and I can't even begin to contemplate having to leave here without feeling very panicky. My landlord is happy to rent it long term and it's not so much just a property but really is our family home. I know there will be a time when my son does leave for good and I obviously wont' get the help to that extent but I'm really hoping I will be well enough to be back at work by then (if they ever find out what' s actually wrong with me but that's a whole other stressy complaint!!!)

 

Thank you

 

Pixy

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Aha!

 

I think I have found an Upper Tier decision which might be helpful to your case.

 

Reported as [2010] AACR 40 Occupation of the home – whether child at university to be treated as occupier of parent’s home.

 

It's in word format, and can be downloaded and viewed here

My advice is based on my opinion, my experience and my education. I do not profess to be an expert in any given field. If requested, I will provide a link where possible to relevant legislation or guidance, so that advice provided can be confirmed and I do encourage others to follow those links for their own peace of mind. Sometimes my advice is not what people necesserily want to hear, but I will advise on facts as I know them - although it may not be what a person wants to hear it helps to know where you stand. Advice on the internet should never be a substitute for advice from your own legal professional with full knowledge of your individual case.

 

 

Please do not seek, offer or produce advice on a consumer issue via private message; it is against

forum rules to advise via private message, therefore pm's requesting private advice will not receive a response.

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What rate DLA are you on? Is it for mobility, care or both?

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Wow, you genius I could kiss you lol!!! That is definitely going in with my appeal letter. it's quite a challenge getting through the legal-speak but the outcome is very clear!

 

Thank you

 

Pixy

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You need a property suitable to accomadate two carers overnight. I do and I'm on HRMDLA for mobility and LRDLA for care which is being looked at again.

"To love unconditionally is the greatest gift, laughter is a close second" .To give your time to help others after being helped here is the best way to show your appreciation to your fellow CAG members.

 

Please note that this advice is given informally, without liability and without prejudice. Seek the advice of an insured qualified professional if you have any doubts. All my knowledge has been gained here, for which I'm very grateful. I'm a Journalist, not a law professional.

 

If you do PM, make sure to include a link to your thread as I don't give out advice in private ;)

BB 13 - DCAs/banks and solicitors 0.

 

I get a fresh start to get on with learning to live with severe disabilities when they could have had something if they'd been understanding...

 

<--- If you feel I've helped, please twinkle my star :)

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There is nothing that I'm aware of in LHA that allow for a carer, for a person on low rate care or mobility. Though it will be introduced in April next year that an additional bedroom can be permitted for a non resident carer if, and only if, the person requires overnight care.

 

I'd be very grateful if you could provide a link on that babybear, because if this were to be the case, it would add even further weight to Pixy's case.

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My advice is based on my opinion, my experience and my education. I do not profess to be an expert in any given field. If requested, I will provide a link where possible to relevant legislation or guidance, so that advice provided can be confirmed and I do encourage others to follow those links for their own peace of mind. Sometimes my advice is not what people necesserily want to hear, but I will advise on facts as I know them - although it may not be what a person wants to hear it helps to know where you stand. Advice on the internet should never be a substitute for advice from your own legal professional with full knowledge of your individual case.

 

 

Please do not seek, offer or produce advice on a consumer issue via private message; it is against

forum rules to advise via private message, therefore pm's requesting private advice will not receive a response.

(exceptions for prior authorisation)

 

 

 

 

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Although I get DLA it is awarded mainly for mental health problems, my physical problems are very varied, I can have a week or so of not being able to do much because my brain's messages don't seem to get through to my hands and feet (for example I can't use the kettle without pouring boiling water all over myself or anywhere except the cup!) and can't chop vegetables, or may fall a lot, but then I'll have a spell of being relatively ok apart from the back pain.

 

While it would certainly help me to have someone stay overnight as when the pain and the numbness in my hands and feet are at their worst as it can take me an hour to get out of bed and be able to walk, because I'm on my own with two young children I just set my alarm an hour earlier so I can move once they are up. And if I burn my hands half a dozen times making them tea and breakfast I still have to do it as no-one else is here to do it. And I suppose because I do it, I tell them I am capable of doing it. My physical health has deteriorated since I was awarded DLA a year ago but I'm scared to rock the boat at all by telling them this!

 

It doesn't help that I don't actually have a diagnosis, I am seeing two different specialists for the physical problems and on the waiting list for two operations but I don't have anything I can say 'I need care because I have...'

 

Maybe that's a question for a whole other thread though!

 

As far as the housing benefit problem, I have finally completed typing my letter outlining the points they made to me and my reply to those:

 

1. They say my son's main residence is not the family home - I have the case study (thank you!), electoral roll, bank, finance and phone bills plus they are welcome to come and see his very much lived in room!

2. They accept that I need to fund a three bedroom house in the holidays but a two bedroom house the rest of the time - my point is that means either my 20 year old son has to share a room with his 5 year old sister and 2 year old brother or I have to continually move home (they did say that was a possibility as HB would allow me to do that :noidea:

3. Their claim that I have not informed them that my son was going to university either by letter or at the home visit - I have a copy of the letter I sent in July telling them that AND have found a letter from HB thanking me for that letter!

4. That losing this home will have a severe impact on my care needs which are being met by having family so nearby.

 

I have also got covering letters to send it to:

My MP

My three ward councillors

Chief Executive

The Mayor (who has actually arranged my son's employment with the same council during the summer holidays - providing he has somewhere to live here of course!!)

Council Leader

 

Basically, just anyone I can think of. I also have my Family Support Worker from the Children's Centre coming tomorrow morning so she may be able to support what I say as well. I will also contact my psychotherapist who can tell them more about the mental health problems I have and why I need to stability and to stay in my home.

 

Other than that I have an mri scan on Tuesday (absolutely terrified!) so am hoping it may just give me a diagnosis after two years of tests (again, another story lol!!!)

 

Will keep you posted...so to speak!

 

Pixy

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Hi Pixy. Im certainly no expert like the other members of the team, but have gone through homelessness and moving with a disablility and wish you luck.

A GP's letter will always help. As far as I remember there is a clause which refers to vulnerablilty in the housing Act, and whether a move will be detriomental to you health. Im sure a good welfare rights lawyer can help.

Secondly although a side issue which was my main reason for writing was the impact your health has on your little ones. Do they care for you in any way because the Young Carers Project will help them. Most Borough Councils have one. My children have support and help from them.

Oh and before I forget, get your MP on side, meet with them it wont do any harm, and get as much paper work from relevent Dr's /consultants /agencies to endorse your disability and hopefully get you more care.

I wish you luck.

Sushi

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This is part of the overall squeeze announced a few weeks ago. An appeal based on you wish to stay where you've always done will not be sufficient, as two acquaintances have had their benefit reduced and appeals failed. The issue was nothing to do with bedrooms, but the value paid for the let - leaving them either to negotiate a lower rate with their landlord, or move and find somewhere cheaper. You might recall the publicity recently where it was suggested claimants in London are being effectively moved out of their 'usual' areas simply due to property prices.

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I would keep the appeal simple. Appeal the decision on the basis that your son is only temporarily absent from home. That he is not away for more than 12 weeks, and that it is by necessity as he is unable to travel from his main home to university every day. Include the commissioners decision, bankstatements for your son etc, and ask for an expedited appeals process due to the risk of losing your home. In the meantime put in an application for a discretionary housing payment to cover your shortfall while waiting for the outcome of the appeal.

 

Including on the appeal that are not necessary will cloud the issue. You want a decision maker to see the central issue immediately and for the case not to go to a tribunal which will take time. You don't want anything to cloud the case law that covers your situation.

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The housing act has little to do with the granting of benefit; the council deal solely with how many bedrooms they can pay for as far as LHA allows. A GP/MP/Welfare Rights lawyer cannot really be of much benefit where a local authority are following rules. In this lady's case, her disability has nothing to do with her entitlement to LHA. They aren't saying this lady has to move; they are saying that she is only entitled to x amount of help toward her rent. Whether she has to move or not if she cannot afford the shortfall isn't really any concern of theirs, they have nothing to do with housing, just paying benefit (harsh but I'm afraid that is the way it is). They can only pay what they law allows them to pay.

 

I would however not discourage the OP to enlist a Welfare Specialist or MP on the grounds that the LA should be treating the son as an occupier of the property and should use the case law I quoted to help. But to be frank she seems to have a good handle on this herself. She has already copied in her MP to the letter to the council (not a bad idea) and if it gets to appeal tribunal stage, by all means enlist a Welfare Rights Specialist if she feels she needs one.

 

I agree with Leemack in keeping the appeal simple and to the point. The information about your disability can go into an application for a discretionary housing payment though, because they do take disability into account for this.

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My advice is based on my opinion, my experience and my education. I do not profess to be an expert in any given field. If requested, I will provide a link where possible to relevant legislation or guidance, so that advice provided can be confirmed and I do encourage others to follow those links for their own peace of mind. Sometimes my advice is not what people necesserily want to hear, but I will advise on facts as I know them - although it may not be what a person wants to hear it helps to know where you stand. Advice on the internet should never be a substitute for advice from your own legal professional with full knowledge of your individual case.

 

 

Please do not seek, offer or produce advice on a consumer issue via private message; it is against

forum rules to advise via private message, therefore pm's requesting private advice will not receive a response.

(exceptions for prior authorisation)

 

 

 

 

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Hello all, and I hope everyone had a good Christmas.

 

Sadly, mine went a bit haywire, I was taken into hospital on 22 December and wasn't 'released' until Christmas Day in the evening. To make matters worse, I have returned to some rather bad news AND I'm feeling rather too physically and mentally deflated to fight but am hoping to find the will and means to do so here...

 

When I spoke to Housing Benefit on 17 December, she also asked me to return a form which the home visiting officer had left with me for my landlord to fill in, confirming that the rent was paid up to date. She asked me if I could make sure it was back with her by the end of the following week and I said I would post it but to be aware there might be delays due to Christmas. She really didn't seem to accept this so I decided I'd take it in myself on the Wednesday (the first day when I had some help with the children), which turned out to be the day I fell ill and was taken to hospital!

 

I came off oxygen on the Thursday evening and although this sounds sad, all I could think about was this form not being back by the next day. I asked a friend of mine to ring Friday morning and explain and to say that someone would drop it in as soon as they reopen on 29 December. My friend was told that the claim had already been suspended - I have just found this out. My rent is due 1st January and apart from hoping my landlord is having a long Christmas break away while I try to sort this, I am now actually faced with immediately not being able to pay the rent.

 

What can I do? As I say, I still feel pretty ill and am not up to actually going down there myself next week but my rent is due in five days...please help!

 

Thank you

 

Pixy

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Pinkpixy, if your claim is suspended, not cancelled then it is usually a relatively simple matter to get it reinstated once you have provided the requested information, but if you wait too long they will cancel your claim. Regarding your rent, your landlord can't just throw you out because your rent is late, there is a process he has to go through. In my experience, landlords tend to be more understanding if they are told in advance of any possible delays with the rent, rather than having to chase you once the rent is late.

 

Hope you feel better soon.

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You might recall the publicity recently where it was suggested claimants in London are being effectively moved out of their 'usual' areas simply due to property prices.

I think this was because some foreigners really abused the system by living in £1000 per week 6 bedroom houses In London! As a result deserving people are also caught up in the net.

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Hi, I've had a letter today which was posted on 23rd December saying that my benefit is suspended not because of the form, but while they look into my son's circumstances. They are asking me to provide the following:

 

"What sort of tenancy does your son have? Please explain where he is staying while studying at university.

Please explain what are his intentions of coming back home: how often is he coming back home? Is he coming back every weekend? If so, is he staying for the whole weekend?

Is he coming back for every holiday? If so please confirm if he is coming for the whole of the holiday period (please provide the dates and length periods).

Is he still liable and does he still pay rent when he is back in Bournemouth? If he is not paying rent, does it mean that he is not allowed to stay at the property he has been renting?

 

Please be advised that your housing benefit payments have been suspended pending this information."

 

Can they suspend it while they do this? It isn't as if they'e already asked me for this information and I've not provided it, the first I hear is that it's suspended before I even get asked for the information. There is no dispute that me and my two younger children are living here so why can't they just suspend the element for my older son?

 

My rent is due on Saturday and there is no way I can get my hands on £750...

 

Please help!!!

 

Pixy

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I'm afraid that they can suspend it, under part 3 of the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Decisions and Appeals) regulations 2001. Unfortunately, there is no right of appeal against such a suspension. That doesn't mean you cannot ask for the suspension to be lifted, or ask for them only to suspend the benefit in part by suspending only the element in question.

 

I'm afraid I haven't got any advise for you other than to provide the information they want as quickly as possible (delivering by hand tomorrow, asking for it to be marked as urgent and asking for a receipt - if the office is open).

 

Please be aware that if you don't provide the information that they are asking for within the time period they have given you (they usually give one month) they can terminate your claim.

My advice is based on my opinion, my experience and my education. I do not profess to be an expert in any given field. If requested, I will provide a link where possible to relevant legislation or guidance, so that advice provided can be confirmed and I do encourage others to follow those links for their own peace of mind. Sometimes my advice is not what people necesserily want to hear, but I will advise on facts as I know them - although it may not be what a person wants to hear it helps to know where you stand. Advice on the internet should never be a substitute for advice from your own legal professional with full knowledge of your individual case.

 

 

Please do not seek, offer or produce advice on a consumer issue via private message; it is against

forum rules to advise via private message, therefore pm's requesting private advice will not receive a response.

(exceptions for prior authorisation)

 

 

 

 

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Hi

i kow this is aside issue but the resident mention by Surfer 01 was getting £1,000 pw for rent but wasn't paying the landlord.

He then moved to a larger nicer area 'nice work if you can get it' got £2,000 pw for rent and dosn't pay this new landlord, who as we speak is havign him removed for non payment

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Hi

i kow this is aside issue but the resident mention by Surfer 01 was getting £1,000 pw for rent but wasn't paying the landlord.

He then moved to a larger nicer area 'nice work if you can get it' got £2,000 pw for rent and dosn't pay this new landlord, who as we speak is havign him removed for non payment

 

This kind of thing really makes me mad, this is the kind of behaviour that gets genuine claimants tarred with the same brush. And makes it hard to even find somewhere to rent as so many agencies won't consider anyone on housing benefit no matter what their circumstances. Grrrr!

 

Pixy x

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Well, I had some good news. I rang Housing Benefit and just said that I had received a letter asking for more information about my son and that my HB had been suspended until I sent them the information. The woman on the other end said that if I had not previously responded then they would normally suspend benefit - this was like a little jewel to me as I was able to tell her that I hadn't failed to respond as this was the first request for information and the letter stated it had to be returned by 6th Jan anyway AND my rent is due 1st January and I have no means of paying it.

 

I asked her why the whole of the claim had been suspended as there was no question that I and my younger children live here, and why couldn't just the element that referred to my elder son be suspended? She said that my claim had now been referred to a manager and they would have taken the decision (she seemed to think this was my cue to say "Oh well if a manager's decided it then I'll just shut up and go away"!!). She said she'd go and discuss it with the manager in question, I was on hold for over five minutes, but she came back and said they'd taken the decision to reverse the suspension and my cheque would be sent in the payment run this evening. Yay!!!

 

Now to fight the ongoing battle!

 

Pixy

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