Long Term Tenants Charged Bedroom Tax Illegally

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Monday 13 January 2014 10.12am
- A loophole in the legislation is alleged to mean that tenants resident since 1996 are exempt.

Quote:
'The error affects working age tenants in social housing who have occupied the same home continuously since 1996. An oversight by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) when drafting the legislation means that the housing benefit regulations dating from 1996 were not updated when the coalition legislated for the bedroom tax.
...All could be eligible for refunds worth on average at least 640 per claimant and millions in aggregate.'
The Guardian.

And this..
Quote:
"..if you have lived in the same property since January 1, 1996, or before AND have been in continuous receipt of housing benefit (full or just one pence per week), in meeting these two conditions you are almost certainly exempt from the bedroom tax. "
South Wales Echo

Can we please have some facts?
If a fraction of the accusations are true then many tenants have been swindled out of thousands of pounds, and are due full compensation, including an element for distress and enforced hardship, possibly including consequences to health.
They need a solid basis for any claims, and to know what to say to benefit offices.
What is Southwark's response to this development, and what advice can it give its many claimants who have lived in the same property since 1996.
Monday 13 January 2014 12.40pm
Yes, Department for Work and Pensions have issued an urgent bulletin on the changes to Housing Benefit.

The legislation refers to "eligible rent" which was introduced in 1996 (there was a different calculation previously).

To claim an exemption from the current rules, you would need to prove to the council that you have had a continuous claim for Housing Benefit since 1995 or earlier.

It is thought this may apply to a few thousand people nationally, and the legislation will be amended soon.
Monday 13 January 2014 6.44pm
guardian wrote:
Housing experts believe as many as 40,000 people could be affected by the mistake. The DWP says it believes only a "small number" of tenants are affected, which it estimates number 5,000.
All could be eligible for refunds worth on average at least 640 per claimant and millions in aggregate.
Monday 13 January 2014 10.14pm
Truthmonkey-home wrote:
To claim an exemption from the current rules, you would need to prove to the council that you have had a continuous claim for Housing Benefit since 1995 or earlier.

This is true. You must have a continuous HB claim relating to the same property to be ineligible for the bedroom tax.

This won't last forever though as the government is looking to close the loophole by March or April. Still if you are in this situation and have been charged the bedroom tax you should contact your council about a refund.
Monday 13 January 2014 11.56pm
I know someone who would be eligible, but has moved to more than one property since 1996, would those rules apply or would it only apply for one address? i.e. I think she moved into a ground floor flat due to illness?
Tuesday 14 January 2014 8.09am
"you would need to prove to the council that you have had a continuous claim for Housing Benefit since 1995 or earlier." Is that possible?
Tuesday 14 January 2014 10.21am
Jan the old one wrote:
I know someone who would be eligible, but has moved to more than one property since 1996, would those rules apply or would it only apply for one address? i.e. I think she moved into a ground floor flat due to illness?

My understanding (and it's always safer to seek second opinion) is that a new property requires a new claim, and that therefore this temporary loophole wouldn't apply.

boroughpaul wrote:
"you would need to prove to the council that you have had a continuous claim for Housing Benefit since 1995 or earlier." Is that possible?

The need for proof is because most councils do not have records going back that far; they've gone from paper records to (often more than one) computer systems in the time and generally only keep records for 6 years.

As you highlight boroughpaul there will be few people who have kept their own records to be able to prove an exemption.
Tuesday 14 January 2014 11.36am
boroughpaul wrote:
"you would need to prove to the council that you have had a continuous claim for Housing Benefit since 1995 or earlier." Is that possible?
Southwark's benefit line is that they are 'investigating each case individually', and seem confident that they have all the information required.. That remains to be seen, but if a tenant can demonstrate a claim when LBS has no record, there is a serious case for an appeal.
The other complication is the routine formality of temporarily suspending claims in response to declarations of minor changes of circumstance, such as one-off part-time payments, or even transference from JSA to ESA, which appear to break the claim, but in fact have no effect on eligibility.

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