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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Universal credit migration  →  Thread

HB or UC with housing costs if still entitled to legacy benefit of Income Support as a carer

S Holman
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Welfare Rights, Redcar & Cleveland Council

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Hi
Hoping someone can help me and point me to the relevant legislation/guidance.

I have a client who sadly lost his young wife in July 2019. He was her carer and was receiving Income Support for them both and Carers Allowance. The family were also in receipt of CHB and CTC for 2 children and I don’t know until I speak with the client next week if the CTC couple claim ended and if he made a single claim. I can see that CHB did end after his wife died and assume he made a claim in his own right.

After his wife’s death, the active HB/CTS was closed and client was advised to make a claim for HB/CTS in his own name as on the previous claim his wife was the first named person and he was the partner. He did not make this claim due to the fact he was grieving and his mental health was deteriorating. During the 8 weeks following his wife’s death he received Income Support and Carers Allowance.

He eventually claimed Universal Credit but not until early October 19 and is now receiving housing costs with his UC. There is a period of 9 weeks between his wifes death and him making the UC claim when his rent was not covered by HB and he has obviously accumulated rent arrears.

My questions are;
1. Did HB act lawfully by closing the couple claim and inviting him to make a new claim for HB for himself and the children?
2. If he had made a claim for HB as a lone parent could he have been paid HB for the 8 week period whilst he was still entitled to legacy benefits?? I can’t find anything to evidence this was possible legally (My feeling is that the change in circumstances should have triggered a UC claim from the very beginning).
3. Should he have been advised by HB from the outset that the couple claim was closed and he now had to claim Universal Credit as they could not accept a new claim from him in a live UC area???

Client delayed on claiming his UC due to receiving the IS/CA for the 8 week extended period after his wife’s death and has now asked for supporting in applying for HB and requesting ‘good cause’ for the late claim to cover the 8 week period he was receiving legacy benefit Income Support.

Thanks in advance

[ Edited: 31 Jan 2020 at 01:41 pm by S Holman ]
Elliot Kent
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(1) Yes. You can’t have a couple claim for HB - you just have a claimant and a partner. The award was terminated when the claimant died.
(2) N/a. He couldn’t make a claim for HB because it had been replaced by UC.
(3) No. The advice to reclaim was incorrect because a reclaim wasn’t possible.

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

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No chance unfortunately.  To answer your questions:

1. Did HB act lawfully by closing the couple claim and inviting him to make a new claim for HB for himself and the children?

Yes.  HB has one claimant who personally owns the award.  Their partner and children are mere arithmetical functions of the means test, they do not have any personal stake in the HB award.  In this case the claimant dies so the award ends.

2. If he had made a claim for HB as a lone parent could he have been paid HB for the 8 week period whilst he was still entitled to legacy benefits?? I can’t find anything to evidence this was possible legally (My feeling is that the change in circumstances should have triggered a UC claim from the very beginning).

No.  By July 2019, the only way to make a new working age claim was if you had an SDP or the claim was for temporary/supported accommodation.  He was therefore unable to make a new HB claim.  The only new claim open to him at that time was UC.

3. Should he have been advised by HB from the outset that the couple claim was closed and he now had to claim Universal Credit as they could not accept a new claim from him in a live UC area?

This is a difficult one.  Strictly speaking he was not their “customer” and they were under no legal duty to advise him of anything at all.  Some might even say it would have been a misuse of personal data to approach him proactively, but personally I would file that one under “ludicrous and common-sense defying GDPR over-caution”.  It would have been polite and helpful for them to have found some way of encouraging him to claim UC asap.  But does he grounds for complaint over the fact that they didn’t?  Difficult.

PS, just re-read your OP and I can see that he appears to have had contact with HB anyway and they advised him to claim HB.  That is a basis for a complaint, it was the wrong advise and it arguably contributed to him missing out on UC for the early months after his wife’s death.  The remedy would be compensation equal to the UC he cannot now get,

[ Edited: 31 Jan 2020 at 02:09 pm by HB Anorak ]
Elliot Kent
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HB Anorak - 31 January 2020 02:04 PM

This is a difficult one.  Strictly speaking he was not their “customer” and they were under no legal duty to advise him of anything at all.  Some might even say it would have been a misuse of personal data to approach him proactively, but personally I would file that one under “ludicrous and common-sense defying GDPR over-caution”.  It would have been polite and helpful for them to have found some way of encouraging him to claim UC asap.  But does he grounds for complaint over the fact that they didn’t?  Difficult.

PS, just re-read your OP and I can see that he appears to have had contact with HB anyway and they advised him to claim HB.  That is a basis for a complaint, it was the wrong advise and it arguably contributed to him missing out on UC for the early months after his wife’s death.  The remedy would be compensation equal to the UC he cannot now get,

I think this is it - the Council had no duty to advise but having decided to do so, it accepted a duty to do so competently. A competent adviser would have familiarised themselves with enough of the facts of the case to advise correctly and, having done so, would have advised them that they only had the option of either claiming UC or not doing so and that a HB claim wasn’t possible.

I think that if I were managing staff at a Council, I would be telling my staff just to leave it at “you need to go and take your own advice from someone qualified”. The amount of hot water I’ve seen Council’s get in by giving arbitrary ‘advice’ as to what they should be claiming…

[ Edited: 31 Jan 2020 at 02:37 pm by Elliot Kent ]
S Holman
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Welfare Rights, Redcar & Cleveland Council

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Thanks for the advice it has unfortunately confirmed what I thought - he should have made a claim for Universal Credit and has received bad advice at the outset when he was invited to make a new claim for HB.
I may have a solution in that our social fund/crisis support team are willing to consider a DHP for the period to cover his rent payments. I am not going to argue the point that he was not entitled to HB during this period which has always been my understanding he would have needed to be to receive a DHP payment.

I am seeing him tomorrow to support him with a council tax support claiim/backdated claim, backdated UC claim for the maximum period and to complete the DHP application. Hopefully this will go some way to putting right the wrongs.