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Case Law - PIP included in affordability of housing costs

LH
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Financial Inclusion / MBC, Kent

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Hi

Can anyone signpost me to any case law regarding whether PIP should be used in affordability calculations for housing please?

Many thanks

LH

Elliot Kent
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Sorry I am not really sure what you are asking for - could you be a bit more specific.

e.g.  are you asking about the affordability assessments which a landlord might do before deciding whether to let to somebody, or are you talking about affordability for the purposes of intentional homelessness or homeless suitability, or DHP applications etc.

LH
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Hi Elliot, Thank you for responding.  I’m trying to find any case law that says if PIP should or should not be used in housing affordability calculations for people being offered accommodation.  I personally believe PIP should not be used in affordability calculations as it is awarded for daily living needs, not to pay excess rent especially for a property larger than required, where bedroom tax will be applied for the UC housing element.  I hope that’s a better explanation, it’s quite complex to put into words.  Many thanks LH

Elliot Kent
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There would not be any case law I think. That is because affordability in the sense you are using it is not really a legally recognised test. The only way it would end up in court is if somebody was refused accommodation on the basis that it was unaffordable and they then went to the trouble of judicially reviewing that conclusion and it got to a contested hearing which is a fairly unlikely series of events.

However you can take cues from other contexts. There is a DHP case called R (Hardy) v Sandwell MBC [2015] EWHC 890 (Admin) which looked at whether it was legitimate to take account of the DLA care component in deciding whether to award a DHP. Broadly the court said that it wasn’t legitimate to apply a blanket rule and one had to take each case on its own facts.

I think that the same proposition is true to an affordability assessment. Arguably it is even more significant in the context of deciding whether or not to offer someone a property. There will be cases where the PIP is obviously being used to meet other costs e.g. carers or transport and where it is therefore unrealistic to treat it as being available for rent - but there will also be cases where the claimant fully understands and is happy to apply the PIP towards meeting their rent. PIP is not a ringfenced fund as far as the claimant is concerned and it seems to me that its valid for the claimant to decide that they want to put some of the PIP towards meeting the costs of running a larger house than they would otherwise be able to afford.

[ Edited: 13 Jul 2021 at 05:00 pm by Elliot Kent ]
LH
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Financial Inclusion / MBC, Kent

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Thank you for this information Elliot, it’s very helpful.  It’s not the client that wants to spend the yet unawarded PIP on housing costs, its housing provider expecting it to be used to make the property affordable if/when its awarded, also with the expectation DHP will pick up the housing costs shortfall until any PIP is awarded.  This is all on a property 1 bed too large and no overnight care needs.  Many thanks

Mairi
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Welfare rights officer - Dunedin Canmore Housing Association

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Is this about whether it would be reasonable for the prospective tenant to refuse an offer of accommodation made under homelessness regs on the basis that they can’t afford it?

If that’s the case and the person wants to refuse the offer but has been told it’s their one and only offer I’d discuss with them framing a housing appeal on it being unreasonable for income that they don’t even have yet to be taken into account when considering affordability.  Also if there are extra costs they need to cover related to their health needs which they’re currently not paying / struggling to pay / doing without I’d chuck that information in too.

Affordability is a strange thing depending upon whether or not you want what’s on offer which is why I’m assuming your client doesn’t want to take what’s on offer.  Surely if they need to access a discretionary fund to pay the shortfall pending the potential PIP award it’s unaffordable?  What if PIP isn’t awarded - is DHP going to fill the gap indefinitely?