Hello reader, sorry to bore you with yet another cock up by Liverpool City Council’s Housing Benefit department in the bedroom tax but I have a feeling their incompetence will be mirrored elsewhere and of course yet again they are denying the tenant what is lawfully theirs.
They could even be denying Liverpool tenants about £2m and of course hastening them on to being evicted and all because they are incompetent in administering the bedroom tax.
Its our old friend the pre 1996 exempt issue once again and LCC have once again got this wrong. They are saying that if you succeeded the tenancy from your mum or dad or any other family member then you do not qualify for the pre 1996 exemption. LCC maintain that the rules only apply if you succeeded the tenancy from your partner and they are wrong.
I was alerted to this early today in a comment on a blog I put out about the pre 1996 issue and then at a bedroom tax surgery this afternoon I had a tenant who was denied the pre 1996 exemption who succeeded the tenancy from her mother in 2008 and has lived there for 46 years. This tenant had a standard letter from Liverpool saying you don’t qualify so I rang the HB department.
No the tenant doesn’t qualify as it is ONLY if the partner of the claimant succeeds I was told. I think you have this wrong I said. No we haven’t we have had training on this was the response! Yes probably training on how to drink PG Tips reader given the monkeys that work there which I have outlined before.
I asked for a letter to be sent to the tenant stating WHY she was not exempt as the standard letter just said she wasn’t exempt and without any reason being given
Rather than bore you with the often complex HB regulations here is an extract from a piece Giles Peaker at Nearly Legal did over this (and with help from Peter Barker I believe :
So, the following will ‘inherit’ the exemption.
a) the partner, or family member, or relative occupying the same dwelling of someone who claimed HB on or before 01/01/1996, and claimed continuously to their death; and
i) who has claimed continuously themselves since the original claimant’s death [or within 4 weeks]; and
ii) who lived at the property on the date of death of the previous claimant, and has lived there continuously since the death of the previous claimant;
b) The partner of a claimant who has left and ceased to reside as husband and wife, where the claim was continuous before the date the claimant left and has been continuous by the partner subsequently [or at least where partner claimed within 4 weeks of the previous claimant leaving].
Fairly clear as it says that it is NOT limited to just the partner but also to a family member, or relative occupying the same dwelling as I emphasise above. This of course includes a son or daughter or other household member who lived in the dwelling as their principal home (and check out HB regulation 7 for more details should you wish.)
Yet this is more than just Liverpool City Council cocking up once again. What they are doing is denying those family members who inherited the protected rights when then succeeded to a tenancy over the past 18 years. In short they are not content with making the pre 1996 cock up in the first place they are making another cock up and denying a lot of tenants.
Liverpool has about 43000 social housing tenants claiming HB a figure fairly consistent over the period. So lets say each year 3% of these cases sees a son or daughter or other household member succeed to their parents or grandparents tenancy. That’s not a high percentage figure by any means yet equates to 1300 HB tenants per year. Then say 15% of these (which is the average across Merseyside) qualify for the exemption which would be 195 such tenants per year.
195 tenants per year over 18 years could see Liverpool have a further 3500 tenants who do according to the rules qualify for the pre 1996 exemption yet Liverpool are denying that they do, and wrongly.
3500 tenants at £600 unlawfully charged in bedroom tax is £2.1m which Liverpool (and other councils?) are not considering because they are misreading the regulations.
That potentially is 3500 households who are at risk of eviction because of the incompetence of LCC in administering HB and the bedroom tax regulations.
My figures above are not wildly high figures and may even be on the low side yet even if they are double the projection it is still £1m being wrongly withheld from social tenants in Liverpool.
I have emailed the head of HB over this misreading of regulations and I will keep you updated reader. I strongly doubt Liverpool is the only council who has got this wrong and is ignoring the tenant who has succeeded to their mother or father of grandparents or uncle or aunts tenancy in the last 18 years.
And of course because the pre 1996 is a general error the rule change of 3rd March 2014 is not a deadline to claim back these monies. Cue councils and landlords scurrying through their records to find even more cases!! It also means that the ‘small’ number that Freud and IDS like to maintain are affected by their cock up is far greater than their 5000 maximum and the likely 40,000 plus from just this current year and especially so if all councils are as incompetent as Liverpool in administering the bedroom tax!
If my 3500 estimate above and it is a crude estimate I admit holds then the number of pre 1996 cases in Liverpool triples to over 5000, extrapolate that to all those councils who believe a son or daughter does not qualify for the pre 1996 exemption and …..hmmmm….wont IDS’s face be a picture dear reader!!
Do let me know if my calculations are wildly wrong as even to me they seem staggering and do also let me know if your council is wrongly interpreting the pre 1996 regulations on successions too like Liverpool
And you thought the pre 1996 exempt issue was dead and buried dear reader…it is most certainly not
UPDATE – LIVERPOOL CITY COUNCIL REPLIES
(Yes you have guessed they are still insisting they are correct!! Can you believe these people!!!)
Here is what they said in an email to me this afternoon:
As you will understand the Service has undertaken this work in accordance with the relevant Housing Benefit Regulations and based on guidance from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).The current interpretation and advice in relation to this is that the succession of tenancies and the exemption from the Under Occupancy legislation only applies to a partner of the Housing Benefit claimant and does not extend to other family members.It is our current understanding that the regulation to which you refer to relates to the provision which protects a resident family member who succeeds a tenancy following the death of the Housing Benefit claimant from a restriction in the rent used to calculate an award for a period of 12 months from the date of death.We will write to DWP for clarification that the approach taken is in accordance with the Regulations. We will let you know the outcome of this request for clarification when received.