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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Housing costs  →  Thread

HB, 2 child limit and Northgate

Allan Ramsay
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Income maximisation - City of Edinburgh Council

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Total Posts: 79

Joined: 31 January 2012

Hi Folks

Apologies if this has been posted elsewhere.

We have come across quite a few HB claims where Northgate (IWorld) is calculating HB applicable amounts in error.  In particular, it affects claims with 3 or more children and Northgate only allows 2 child premiums in the applicable amount.  All of the cases concerned are entitled to 3 child premiums in the applicable amount as they fall within the exception list to the ‘2 child limit’.

The HB team in Edinburgh are aware of the problem and decision makers have been given instructions on ‘workarounds’.  However, other Local Authorities who use the same system may be underpaying clients inadvertently and advisers should be vigilant.  Especially given the increase in automated calculations.

Thanks

Allan

HB Anorak
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Benefits consultant/trainer - hbanorak.co.uk, East London

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When you say “exception list”, what do you mean by that - are you referring to the various rules that allow Tax Credits and UC to cover more than two children?  Those don’t directly apply to HB.  HB has pretty crude rules around the two child limit:

- on a new claim, the two child limit applies unless they have CTC with more than two child elements included
- existing pre-2017 awards are transitionally protected. 

So the key facts in an HB case are: new claim versus transitional protection, and how many CTC child elements allowed.  If there is an apparent problem, it could be upstream of HB in the CTC calculation.

[ I said “upstream”, get me.  I’ll be calling myself an Institute or Foundation next and start knocking out Very Important Reports about stuff.  But I digress].

Allan Ramsay
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Income maximisation - City of Edinburgh Council

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Total Posts: 79

Joined: 31 January 2012

Sorry, I should have been more specific.  I am referring to the exceptions list in HB Circular A5/2017 (paragraphs 8 and 9). In particular, cases where the claimant has 3 child elements in their CTC award.

I’ve done more research into the cases affected.  It concerns new claims or claims that are reinstated after previously being terminated.  Northgate defaults to the two child limit and manual intervention is required to override this.  Unfortunately, it can be easily overlooked and clients can be underpaid.

On a similar note, we also get a lot of missing disability premiums in HB/CTR for those that receive the disabled worker element of WTC or disabled child element of CTC (this is less common). The ‘Atlas’ process only uploads the amount of the Tax Credits award and not the disability element.  This also requires manual intervention and often gets missed due to the automated nature of the ‘Atlas’ Tax Credit process

I hope I am making sense!

 

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Prisca
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benefits section (training & accuracy) Bristol city council

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Joined: 20 August 2015

Northgate (and most other systems) default to the basic position that any new claim will only have 2 children included in the applicable amount. its a safety feature to minimise the risk of avoidable LA error overpayments.
HB need to see the tax credit award letter to confirm how many children are included in that to determine how many kids can have a personal allowance in the applicable amount.

Standard practice is to award HB based on 2 kids and ask for the CTC letter and revise/amend as b=necessary once its provided.