BENEFITS EXPERT: Housing benefit for one home but need to pay double rent
Q. I currently reside in a social housing property and receive housing benefit. Due to health problems the council carried out an assessment to see if the house could be adapted to help with day to day living needs.
However due to my age as well as my health problems it was decided I could be moved to a bungalow instead that had already been adapted. It took about two weeks to arrange the move so in affect I was responsible for rent for both properties. The council have advised me I can only be paid Housing Benefit for one home, is this correct given the circumstances in which my move went ahead?
A. Generally speaking Housing Benefit can only be paid for one home, however there are some exceptions to this rule. In your situation you could argue that it was not possible to avoid having to pay rent on your old property as the move to your new property happened so quickly and thus you could not give the required notice period for your old address. The council in this situation should consider issues around your disabilities, health conditions, etc. Furthermore if the council had decided to adapt your old property and the adaptations may have required that you move into temporary accommodation in order for the adaptations to be carried out you would in this situation have been paid Housing Benefit for the two properties. Instead you have agreed to a home move to a new property and this “forced” move means you could serve your notice period at the old address.
Q. I recently received some backdated benefit arrears as the DWP were not paying me the Severe Disability Premium with my ESA. The arrears were almost £12,000 and I am worried I’ll lose or see my benefits reduced but the DWP stated in this situation the money is ignored. Is this correct?
A. The advice given is correct, arrears of underpaid benefit are not classed as capital in this situation, you should have always been paid this money but were not due to some type of error. So although the money you receive is a “one off lump sum” it is not classed as capital and will not generate tariff income either. This is also true for other means tested benefits you may receive such as Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, etc.