UC hospital long term
Grateful for any thoughts. Got a client who has been in hospital for over 6 months, and is expected to be in for a further year.
I know in HB costs are covered up to 52 weeks including the period restarting when they go home overnight. Do people think the going home overnight will allow the housing costs to resume in UC too? Even after 6 months has passed?
Also it reads like the LCWRA continues indefinitely?
Even though I think they would be mistaken if they do this, I would expect DWP to argue that coming home and going away again during the same assessment period would have no effect, since all changes are taken back to the start of the month. I can see them saying this makes it as if the claimant never returned home. This is not correct though: superseding decisions have effect from the beginning of the month in which the change occurs, but you only get that far if there is a change requiring a superseding decision in the first place. Breaking and recommencing absence is done in order to avoid the need for a superseding decision because it preserves continuous entitlement. That means no superseding decision and no need to establish the effective date.
The only other thing to consider is that, as in HB, there will eventually come a time when the dwelling is no longer the dwelling normally occupied as the home: if you have only been home once every 5-and-a-bit months for, say, 10 years, it becomes difficult to say that is where you live.
PS - sorry, you asked specifically about whether a return home can recommence entitlement to a housing element which had already expired. That is slightly trickier, but I would argue that the effect of returning home and going away again is a change of circumstance (well, two changes of circumstances) that does warrant a superseding decision: having embarked on a fresh period of temporary absence which is now less than six months, the claimant once again qualifies for a housing element from the start of the AP in which they returned home.[ Edited: 4 Jun 2020 at 04:42 pm by HB Anorak ]
I think Peter is right about the consequences of a night out of hospital before the six months is up. The regs say: “a claimant is to be treated as no longer occupying accommodation from which they are temporarily absent where the absence exceeds, or is expected to exceed, 6 months.” I think the basis for terminating the HCE could only arise on the basis of a real-life absence exceeding six months rather than some sort of artificially deemed period based around assessment periods.
I think in principle in might then be possible to begin a new temporary absence after the HCE has already been terminated by returning home - but I think your particular client runs into the problem that the regs allow the HCE to be refused where the absence is “expected to exceed” the 6 month limit (I think there was no equivalent of this rule for HB?). You have said that your client is expecting to be in hospital for another year - so that would seem to provide the DWP with a basis for refusing to award the HCE in any case.[ Edited: 4 Jun 2020 at 10:44 pm by Elliot Kent ]
HB says “unlikely to exceed”, so there is a similar principle. I suppose the claimant has to ber very careful about what they say, and so do those advising them: “I expect to be in hospital for 5 months and three weeks, and then probably another five months and three weeks after that, and I expect to return home for a day or two in between”.