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Moving on from supported housing - what should happen to a claimant's HB?


We have heard of claimants being given the wrong advice when moving out of supported housing and missing out on extra HB or claiming Universal Credit when they didn't need to.

In this hot topic we unpick the rules for claimants moving out of 'temporary' or 'specified' accommodation and explain what should happen under different circumstances.

NOTE: Not all supported housing falls under the definition of 'temporary' or 'specified accommodation - see below for definition.

Background

A claimant cannot get a Universal Credit Housing Cost Element while living in 'temporary' or 'specified accommodation'.

So whether they are on legacy benefits (Income Related ESA, Income Support, Income-Based JSA and/or Tax Credits), or on Universal Credit, they need to claim Housing Benefit for their rent and eligible service charges.

This means for a UC claimant, the only reason they are getting HB is because of their accommodation status. Once they leave 'temporary' or 'specified' accommodation that reason has gone and on moving to a general let tenancy they need to request a UC Housing Cost Element to help with their rent.

But if they are on legacy benefits (including HB) when they move, and they move in within the LA area that has been paying the HB* and nothing has changed to mean a legacy benefit should end, their HB should continue. It would only end if they move to a different Local Authority.

*NOTE. Sometimes a Local Authority will place a person/family in a different Local Authority area but remain responsible for paying their HB. It is the paying Local Authority that counts, not where they are living.

The various scenarios and outcomes are given below.

Moving from 'temporary' or 'specified' accommodation to general let

Current benefits

Move

What happens

  On UC and HB

  Move to general let, same LA

  HB ends, request UC HCE

  On UC and HB

  Move to general let, different LA

  HB ends, request UC HCE

  On legacy benefits and HB

  Move to general let, same LA

  Stay on HB – just a change of
  address

  On legacy benefits and HB

  Move to general let, different LA

  HB ends, claim UC** with HCE.

** Some claimants may be better off staying on their legacy benefits without any HB. This would include those whose UC award would be benefit capped and some mixed age couples. These claimants should seek advice before moving to find out the best option for them.

Examples:

Wayne has been living in a young person’s foyer which counts as 'specified' accommodation. He is on Universal Credit but gets help with his rent through HB. He is moving into a Housing Association general needs flat in the same Local Authority area. Because the only reason he received HB rather than a UC Housing Cost Element was because of his accommodation status, then even though he is moving within the same Local Authority, because he is moving to general needs accommodation, his HB will end and he needs to request a Housing Cost Element in his UC.

Farid has been living in 'specified' accommodation for people with addictions. He gets PIP, Income-Related ESA and HB. He’s moving to a one bedroom rented flat in the same Local Authority. As he is moving within the LA area and nothing has happened to end his other legacy benefits, he can remain on HB and report a 'change of address'. 

Joe has been living in 'temporary' accommodation with his wife and two children. They were placed within the LA area that pays their HB. They also receive Income-Related ESA, Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit. Next week they are moving to a general needs house. As they are moving within the same paying LA area and nothing has happened to end their other legacy benefits, they can remain on HB as it is just a ‘change of address’.

Maria and her family have been housed by their Local Authority into 'temporary' accommodation in a neighbouring borough. She receives Income Support, Child Tax Credit, Child Benefit, and Housing Benefit. She pays her rent to the placing LA, who continue to award her HB. She is then rehoused in a general needs flat close to the 'temporaray' accommodation. Although she is not moving to a new LA, her HB award is. This means that her HB from the placing LA will end and as she cannot make a new claim for HB she must claim UC. Her IR ESA and CTC will end.
 

What should the claimant do if they have been on UC and HB and are moving to a general let property?

They should:

  • Notify the DWP online (or, if an offline claimant, via the Universal Credit helpline: 0800 328 5644) of their change in circumstances and that they are no longer living in 'tempoary' / specified' accommodation.
  • Provide the DWP with evidence of their new tenancy and rent so that a Housing Costs Element can be included in their UC award.
  • Notify the Housing Benefit Office that they have moved - and request HB for any notice period (because they can be 'treated as' living in specified accommodation for this period and so are not excluded from getting HB) - use Standard Letter HB UC2 if the HB Office refuses.

What if they are on HB and other legacy benefits when they move within the same Local Authority, and the HB Office ends the Housing Benefit incorrectly?

The claimant should ask the HB Office, via their online account or by phone/letter if they are an offline claimant, to revise their decision, explaining that none of their legacy benefits have ended and they are moving within the same Local Authority and therefore there is nothing within the Regulations that states their HB should end. You can use Standard Letter HB UC1 to raise this issue with your HB Office. And the claimant can use Standard Letter HB UC3 to challenge the decision to close their HB claim.

Everyone's having to claim UC now anyway so does it really matter if they claim UC now?

Whilst planned migration of legacy benefit claimants onto UC has started, where someone will be worse off on UC***, they will be better off if they can wait until it is their turn to be 'manged migrated' onto UC. This is because they could then be entitled to 'transitional protection' when they first claim. 

*** The latest DWP statistics show that 35% of existing legacy benefit claimants will be worse off on UC.

 

What is 'temporaray' and 'specified' accommodation?

In brief...

'temporary' accommodation is accommodation in which the claimant has been place by the Local Authority who have accepted their homelessness application while they source a more permanenet solution. The claimant will either be paying their rent to the Local Authority or a registed provider of social housing. More detailed definition on the website here.

'specified' accommodation is a certain type of supported housing. It include domestic violence refuges and LA hostels  as well as accommodation provided by a Housing Association, registered charity and non-profit voluntary organisation where either the landord provides the claimant with care, support or supervision, or, if this is being provided by another body the claimant moves into the accommodation in order to recieve it. More detailed definition on the website here.

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