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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Universal credit migration  →  Thread

UC, drug/alcohol rehab - residentia, home ownership

 

DDP
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The Terrence Higgins Trust

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We have a client who is currently on UC to include LCWRA. He has no housing costs included in his UC.

He has completed a residential drug/alcohol programme of just under 6 months in Bournemouth.

He will continue to live in Bournemouth in a dry house/assisted living facility and expect to be there for a further 3 months.

The cost of both has been met by the Local Authority.

As far as we can tell from the rules his UC will not be affected for the initial 6 month period as he will be treated as living in his own home.

However, for the additional 3 months we cannot find anything specifically as to an extension of the temporary period of 6 months where the value of the home is ignored.

Does anyone know what the position might be?

     
Dan Manville
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Mental health, Wolverhampton CC Welfare Rights

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DDP - 28 May 2019 10:55 AM

Does anyone know what the position might be?

The temporary absence rules in UC reduce the period for which one might be treated as temporarily absent while in hospital from 52 weeks to 6 months.

I do wonder whether there’s a workaround where the person has never ceased to “normally occupy” the premises.

Assuming they still own it; all their stuff is still there and they intend to return. Para 1 schedule 3 tells us that a person is to be treated as occupying the dwelling if the claimant normally occupies it. In these circumstances has that normal occupancy lapsed?

Assuming your client is fed and housed during the dispute period until they go home, if JCP were to try to take the capital of the residence into account there’s no harm challenging it.

I’d also be keen to lawyer up on this point as the reduction from 52 weeks to 6 months seems tenuous; it’ll need justification if it is to be lawful…

edit; on a brief glimpse there doesn’t seem to be much justification other than where underoccupancy might bite… I can’t see sole householders in hospital have been considered at all. A lot of my detained clients are of concern thanks to this provision.

      [ Edited: 28 May 2019 at 11:46 am by Dan Manville ]
DDP
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Hi Dan,

Thanks for your reply.

The claimant states he has returned to his home on 3 occasions since starting the rehab - 09/02/19, 06/05/19 & 16/05/19. I’m trying to check with him if he stayed overnight. Wasn’t there a rule in HB where temporary absence period would start all over again if a claimant returned home, even if for a short period? Could this apply here?

The guidance to decision makers states:

Premises not occupied as the home for a time

H2038 Premises usually occupied as the home are disregarded if
1.
they are not occupied for a time and
2.
the intention is to return to live in the premises as the home.
For example, if a person goes into residential care on a temporary basis and intends to return to the house which the person usually occupies as the home, the house is disregarded.

Whilst:

H2005 Capital is disregarded
1. indefinitely or
2. for a period of up to 12 months or
3. for a period of up to 6 months or
4. for more than 6 months if it is reasonable.

UC Regs, reg 48; Sch 10

I’ve not looked at the Regs yet but presume they must specify 6 months in these types of cases. However, if the claimant has returned to stay at home overnight presumably the temporary period could start all over again?

Any thoughts?

     
Daphne
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Looking at Schedule 10 the six months only seem to apply where they’ve recently acquired the home but not moved in, or trying to dispose of the home but I don’t think that applies here. I think it is still premises occupied by him as his home so there isn’t a time limit - the fact that he’s been back a few times and intends to return surely supports that - this is about capital rather than getting housing costs as part of his UC so I think it’s different from the temporary absence rules.

The guidance you quote at H2038 seems to support that too.

     
DDP
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The Terrence Higgins Trust

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Thanks Daphne.

I’m going to take a closer look at the rules and may get back to you if it remains opaque to me.