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Housing Benefit and non-dependant deduction (students)

JPCHC
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Cardinal Hume Centre - Welfare Rights

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I know there’s no NDD for full-time students but I can’t see what is considered full-time for this purpose.  I have looked in the CPAG handbook (pg.184) but I can’t see it.  I suspect it’s me missing it, rather than it not being there…

Please can anyone help? Thanks!

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

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It’s not you, the regs are not completely clear..  The first reference to full time students in HB Reg 74 is in para (7)(c) and it says “he is a full-time student during a period of study within the meaning of Part7 (Students)”.  The other mentions of full time student in Reg 74 do not point to any definition.

What is less clear than it could be is whether the signpost to Part 7 only applies to the definition of “period of study”, or whether it applies to “full time student” as well.  I think the common sense way to interpret that is to use the definition of full time student in Reg 53.  But good luck with that: the definition only prescribes a certain number of hours for funded FE college courses,whereas for higher education it doesn’t actually take you a lot further.  It mysteriously says that a “full time course of study” is, er, a “full time course of study”.  In the end a lot depends on the expectations of the college/uni.

Ruth Knox
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RAISE Benefits Advice Team, Liverpool

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I had the sad experience of setting case law on this - SSWP v Deane [2010] EWCA Civ 699.  For most circumstances, if the college considers the course to be full-time (and this will include independent studies as well as lectures etc) then it is full-time.

Peter Turville
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Welfare rights worker - Oxford Community Work Agency

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Ruth Knox - 28 January 2020 03:21 PM

I had the sad experience of setting case law on this - SSWP v Deane [2010] EWCA Civ 699.  For most circumstances, if the college considers the course to be full-time (and this will include independent studies as well as lectures etc) then it is full-time.

Although Ruth your Deane case was about the rule within CA (21 hours) which is not the same as in means tested benefits. Given the breadth of the interpretation of supervised study in Deane I have always wonder what study could be considered as ‘unsupervised’ for CA rules. However the ‘starting point’ in CA rule (21 hrs) is different to means tested benefits.

Crudely the problem with means tested benefits is there is no definition of ‘full time’ with the exception of certain courses of non-advanced education which are defined in the Regs (differently for E,W &S). A course is part time if it is not full time!

Whilst the definition provided by the course provider is certainly an indicator [R(SB)40/83 & R(SB)41/83] (as is any student funding received etc) other arguments are, or are not, possible depending on the nature of the course / attendance required etc. as illustrated by Webber [1997] 4 ALL ER 274 and O’Conner [R(IS)7/99] for which I am guilty.

A general issue being that terminology used by individual course providers (or for different courses by the same provider!) needs to be read in the context of, for example, publicity & prospectus, their funding sources or level of qualification. The more flexible access / attendance to the course the more difficult to define as full or part time. Some courses are now structured in such a way that individual students attend the same course of a full or part time basis (taking a shorter or longer period to complete). Unlike the ‘old days’ when full and part time courses were usually entirely separate and never the two would meet.

See CPAG Handbook p877 ‘Other courses’. The answer is that in some cases there is no obvious answer whereas in others it may be fairly obvious the course is ‘full time’.