Earlier this week I posted that Liverpool City Council were wrongly reading the pre1996 exempt issue with regard to those other than partners who have succeeded to their tenancies in the last 18 years since 2 January 1996. They maintained ONLY the partner of the tenant could qualify for the pre 1996 exemption
Liverpool has now corrected this and very quickly too. In a matter of 6 days they read my email to them and responded by saying they would seek guidance from DWP, they have received that guidance and emailed me back saying I was right. Yet this is not about my being proved right and I have heard only today that two other councils in Merseyside, namely Sefton and Knowsley, have also adoptedt he initial and now proven to be errant view Liverpool took.
So (a) 6 days is remarkably quick for any organisation and especially for a council and Liverpool rightly deserve credit for their speedy response and correction, and (b) Sefton, Knowsley and maybe more councils need to do the same.
The content of the email is unedited and below:
Further to my recent emails on succession and the under-occupation penalty. I can confirm that DWP has now provided further guidance which means that we are able to extend exemptions to the under-occupation penalty for certain cases of succession to pre-1996 tenancies.
On the basis of previous advice from the DWP the Benefits Service has only been applying exemptions from the under occupation penalty to those who had inherited tenancies from their partner after the death of the tenant.
We have reproduced the DWP guidance below; this now extends the exemption to any member of the claimant’s family.
In order for the protection to be inherited four main conditions must apply as follows:
• Claimant must have taken over the protection from a previous beneficiary in respect of the same dwelling
• The previous beneficiary must have left the dwelling, been imprisoned or died
• The claimant must have claimed HB within four weeks
• The claimant must either have been the partner of the previous beneficiary or a linked person as follows:
-any member of the claimant’s family;
-if the claimant is a member of a polygamous marriage, any partners of his and any child or young person for whom he or a partner is responsible and who is a member of the same household;
-any relative of the claimant or his partner who occupies the same dwelling as the claimant, whether or not they reside with him, except for a relative who has a separate right of occupation of the dwelling which would enable them to continue to occupy it even if the claimant ceased his occupation of it.
Information on Cases Affected
We have contacted the social landlords in Liverpool to ensure that they provide the Benefits Service with details of any tenancies which may be affected.
We will also be examining our own records to help identify any cases affected.
So well done again Liverpool City Council and I trust Sefton and Knowsley Councils and others will act in a similar manner from now on and ensure that ALL the tenants who could benefit from the pre 1996 exemption from April 2013 to 3 March 2014 are sought and recompensed.