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Young person 17/18 years-old receiving UC (including housing element), loses housing element for the whole of the assessment period, when she moves du

 

Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District
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Would really appreciate a second opinion on this because it is for a local organisation who i suspect will have more of these cases - info in advance of an appointment is sketchy.

Young person 17/18 years-old receiving UC (including housing element), loses housing element for the whole of the assessment period, when she moves during the assessment period, to specified/temporary accommodation i.e. HB payable for housing costs.

So looks like UC are treating her as not being liable for rent on the last day of her assessment period i.e. disadvantageous change of circumstances, hence loss of housing costs for the whole assessment period.

Young person is left owing rent for previous accommodation.

The only remedy i can find to advise is making a Discretionary Housing Payment application to cover the period concerned to the local authority - see the attached HB circular A2/2018 and extract below paras 12 - 14 arguably applicable to young person?.

Change of circumstances

12. Change of circumstances are applied in UC under a ‘whole month’ approach. Under a whole month model, the UC award is calculated to reflect the claimant’s circumstances at the end of their assessment period. To do this, all changes are applied from the beginning of the assessment month in which they take place (if reported in the assessment period within which they occurred). The award for that month is therefore wholly at the new rate, net of all changes in the period.

13. Therefore, a UC claimant may experience a gap in their housing costs provision if there is a change in their housing costs which requires a new claim for HB because they move into temporary accommodation.

14. From 11 April 2018, a discretionary housing payment can be made to a claimant for any UC assessment period when the claimant would have been entitled to UC housing costs were it not for the fact that the claimant occupied specified accommodation or temporary accommodation, if the LA consider it is appropriate.

      [ Edited: 14 Sep 2018 at 05:00 pm by Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District ]

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Elliot Kent
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With UC, the normal rule is that changes of circumstances (whether favourable or unfavourable) take effect from the first day of the AP in which they occur.

So if someone - of any age - ceases to be eligible for housing costs in the middle of an AP, then they won’t get paid for the days which have already passed in that AP.

Equally, if someone accrues a liability for housing costs mid-way through an AP, then they will get a windfall for all the days in that AP when they didn’t have to pay rent but will get paid housing costs.

I suppose you can time these things to an extent to minimise the shortfalls and maximise the windfalls - but obviously that isn’t going to be possible in every situation.

DHP is one option to address the shortfall. Otherwise it just needs to be dealt with as a debt (looking at payment plans, asking for it to be written off etc. etc.)

     
Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District
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Elliot Kent - 15 September 2018 10:08 AM

With UC, the normal rule is that changes of circumstances (whether favourable or unfavourable) take effect from the first day of the AP in which they occur.

So if someone - of any age - ceases to be eligible for housing costs in the middle of an AP, then they won’t get paid for the days which have already passed in that AP.

Equally, if someone accrues a liability for housing costs mid-way through an AP, then they will get a windfall for all the days in that AP when they didn’t have to pay rent but will get paid housing costs.

I suppose you can time these things to an extent to minimise the shortfalls and maximise the windfalls - but obviously that isn’t going to be possible in every situation.

DHP is one option to address the shortfall. Otherwise it just needs to be dealt with as a debt (looking at payment plans, asking for it to be written off etc. etc.)

Thanks for the response Elliot!

The organisation concerned is a Charity helping young people find accommodation via supported lodgings with host households and they advise its on a just in time basis to all intents and purposes. So timing I think they will find a problem, and similarly dealing with as a debt/accruing as a debt with host families they would want to avoid.

We have advised client and Support Worker to apply for a DHP, effectively Ccing it via the MP i.e. enlisting MP’s help to lend umph and hopefully expedite application to get a quick resolution in client’s favour, and as a social policy issue.

Actually we explored the Flexible Support Fund too, but reading through the guidance etc it excludes household costs.

Finally as a an excuse to plug CPAG’s excellent Early Warning System - we advised Support Worker about it. EWS form is really easy to complete and a really worthwhile use of time, alternatively they can be emailed.