Housing Benefits – Anglia Revenues Partnership (Agenda Item 7)
Presentation by the Anglia Revenues and Benefits Partnership.
Mrs S. Wilcox, Benefit Team Leader, and Ms K. Jackson, Benefit Team Leader of the Anglia Revenues Benefits Partnership gave a brief overview of Housing Benefit and Discretionary Housing Benefit.
Housing Benefit was a means tested social security funded benefit which was administered by the Local Authority. It was targeted at people on benefits and those on low income. Other factors were taken into account such as disability, carers, children and age. Claims for Housing Benefit could be taken through the job centre or through other benefit agencies.
The rates of the housing benefit were governed by local factors such as the rate of rents within an area and whether the claimant had children which would require a larger property. There would be new changes in legislation in April regarding Housing Benefit and Members agreed that a presentation on those changes should be given to Policy Development and Review Panel 3.
Single parent families would be viewed the same as any other family unit although if a family was on income support they would automatically be entitled to the full amount of housing benefit.
The Government denoted that a single person over the age of 25 could live on £59.15 per week and for every £10 above that rate the Government stated that a person could pay £6.50 towards the cost of their rent. Those levels were even lower for a person under the age of 25.
Anglia Revenues Partnership (ARP) worked closely with other agencies and regular liaison meetings were held. These had been instrumental in preventing homelessness through making customers aware of the Discretionary Housing Benefit fund (DHP). The DHP had been existence since 2001 and was funded by the Government to give financial aid to those struggling financially to help with housing benefit and council tax payments. Payments would never exceed a financial year and the fund was to help with short-term difficulties. The fund was means tested and the claimant would not re-pay the money they had received.
At present the claimant would decide whether the housing benefit was paid directly to the landlord or to themselves. However, from April all housing benefit would be paid directly to the claimant. With regard to vulnerable people there would still be an ability to pay housing benefit direct to the landlord.
The government currently provided £28,029.00 in grant funding for DHP and the ARP were able to pay two and half times that amount to claimants. Anything above £28,029.00 was paid from the Council’s budget and at present £46,083.13 had been paid out. These payments had prevented homelessness cases which would have cost the Authority more in the longer term.
Members were advised that any payment from the Child Support Agency was not an additional income as this would be taken into consideration before any Income Support was awarded. With regards to people who did not wish to declare the name of the parent when claiming; their Income Support may be reduced. However, there was discretion when a claimant did not wish to disclose the name of the parent as they may have been abusive.
(1) the information be noted; and
(2) a presentation be given to Policy Development and Review Panel 3 once the new legislation governing Housing Benefit came into force after April.