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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Universal credit migration  →  Thread

Couple or not?

Rosie W
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Welfare rights service - Northumberland County Council

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Joined: 9 February 2012

Not sure about this one. Clients are married, he gets IS as a carer, she gets old style ESA-c, both get PIP. Due to safeguarding concerns arising from when they were living in the community, they now live in an ISL where each has a separate tenancy and each has a separate HB award.

HB asked if they were no longer a couple and the situation as it stands was explained so they are aware of the circumstances and are apparently happy to pay HB on separate claims.

The wife, who is the ESA-c claimant, turns pension age next month. They would be better off if treated as separate single claimants, particularly when she reaches pension age.

The care manager says they use one room as a bedroom and one as a living room. Is there any scope to have them treated as single claimants or will it have to be a MAC UC claim when she is pension age? And if so is this likely to have any impact on the HB claims other than the passporting benefit becoming UC rather than IS?

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

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To be a couple, they need to be members of the same household.  There is some old Supp Ben case law about married people having separate rooms in a care home where they were not maintaining a single household. Cannot remember whether they slept in the same room, but iirc the main issue was that most of the expenses associated with a household were paid separately by each as part of their individual inclusive charge; and they were not jointly in charge of their own accommodation as the separation into two units came after the front desk.

It will depend how similar to or different from a care home the ISL is. Is that “independent supported living”? (excuse my ignorance). To what extent are they able to assume joint control of a household budget, are their two rooms situated/configured in a way that enables them to shut out the world from their private domain without having to schlep through communal spaces to reach each other etc.

Peter Donohue
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Salford Welfare Rights

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Lfletcher
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Lancashire County Council - WRS

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Is it a joint income support claim now or single ?

Rosie W
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Welfare rights service - Northumberland County Council

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Total Posts: 481

Joined: 9 February 2012

Thanks for the responses. I need to check further what they do about bills etc - these are all paid by the Deputyship team as they are both on deputyship. If it can be said to be analogous to the res care scenario it would be helpful as they would be better off with two single claims and would avoid the MAC situation. The Income Support claim is a couple claim in the wife’s name at the moment and she is the one who turns pension age next month.