Housing-benefit errors 'making families homeless' thumbnail

Housing-benefit errors 'making families homeless'


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Some struggling households are being pushed into homelessness by screw ups in the very machine designed to preserve a roof over their heads, a watchdog says.

The Local Authorities Ombudsman discovered some local authorities in England were miscalculating housing support payments after which curbing rights of appeal.

It upheld eight out of 10 of the a total bunch of complaints it investigated in regards to the support in 2018-19.

City corridor bosses stated the portray raised some indispensable points.

It furthermore stated the funding councils obtained to administrate housing support fell wanting its lawful price.

Michael King, the Local Authorities and Social Care Ombudsman, stated: “Mistakes in support administration can only add to the pressures households face.

“A extend in processing an appeal later upheld can lead to rising rent arrears.

“Diverse the opposite folks who whinge to us face the specter of losing their properties.”

In a single example, a younger family with a disabled child needed to go their London dwelling following a miscalculation of their housing advantages by Haringey Council.

Threatening letters

The detailed portray upholding the family’s criticism stated: “The single-guardian family had been living in privately rented accommodation but were asked to go by their landlord after the council incorrectly told him the family owed more than £8,000 in backdated advantages.

“The family needed to terminate in inferior accommodation whereas the council establish lawful its errors and recalculated the mom’s lawful entitlement.

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“The council has furthermore agreed to pay the girl £1,000 for the ache brought on, a extra £1,300 to recognise she was in inferior accommodation for six months and £500 for storage prices she incurred when she needed to go her rented property.”

The ombudsman furthermore highlighted the narrative of a person left in limbo for 2 years, no longer shiny the volume of enhance he must composed receive and how mighty the council would pursue him for.

A straightforward administrative error blended with an incapacity to exchange records supposed the council could well well no longer figure out why it had overpaid his housing support.

Your complete whereas it despatched him letters threatening recovery movement every fortnight.

Genuine of appeal

In complete, the ombudsman obtained 491 complaints in 2018-19 and performed detailed investigations into 74.

Complications highlighted by the ombudsman contain councils combating households from hard choices by decoding guidelines spherical appeals overly literally.

Claimants who disputed a housing-support resolution but did no longer exhaust the observe “review” or “appeal” in their communique, for example, must composed no longer be prevented from appealing, the ombudsman stated.

Unprecedented claimants could well well no longer be expected to be professional in the finer aspects of housing-support laws.

In addition, some councils started convalescing overpayments sooner than the one-month deadline for appeals was up or sooner than appeals had been heard.

And others did now not pass on disputed choices to cases to the connected social-safety tribunal.

A Local Authorities Affiliation spokesman stated as properly as a lack of funding, departments had confronted continuing pressures and uncertainty over welfare reforms and the introduction of the all-in-one support, universal credit rating. This had furthermore stretched councils’ revenues and advantages companies and products.

“It is miles key that the manager recognises the continuing position of councils in administering housing support and in supporting claimants [and] affords acceptable, properly timed funding to councils to pronounce this position, to be sure that councils are ready to acquire the fairest, most exact service that they’ll,” he added.

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