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Young family left homeless by Haringey benefits blunder

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Information and advice resources - Age UK

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Absolute shambles of a case by Haringey Council here, and it’s not just the Housing Benefit cock-up. They’ve also failed in their duties around dealing with the fact that the knock-on impacts caused them to become homeless. Anyone with HB overpayments from this council might want to have a look as the Ombudsman has recommended that they go back and audit similar cases around the application of the two-child rule and underlying entitlement in o/p cases.

A young family, including a disabled child, had to leave their home following a miscalculation of their housing benefits by London Borough of Haringey, reports the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

The single-parent family had been living in privately rented accommodation, but were asked to leave by their landlord after the council incorrectly told him the family owed more than £8,000 in backdated benefits. The family had to stay in unsuitable accommodation while the council put right its mistakes and recalculated the mother’s correct entitlement.

The Ombudsman’s investigation found the council at fault for failing to calculate her benefits properly, not using the mandatory ‘underlying entitlement’ rule to work out her overpayments and not referring her case to the appeals tribunal.

The Ombudsman has also criticised the council for wrongly telling the landlord the mother owed a significant debt, and for not properly applying the rules which limit benefits to a family’s first two children. She should have always had the allowance for her third child because her youngest son was born before April 2017.

The council was also at fault for the way it handled her homelessness application once she was evicted.

Young family left homeless by Haringey benefits blunder

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This is truly appalling and why did it take an investigation by the Ombudsman to put it right?

I the past I had various dealings with several different departments at Haringey Council and there seemed to be a widespread sense, (not universal, but widespread), of antipathy towards the public combined with over-defensiveness by staff, many of whom were not very competent.

It seems that the culture of the organisation has not changed that much.  And this is a Labour Council for heaven’s sake.  No wonder voters are cynical.