Housing benefit

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Monday 12 July 2004 1.50pm
A young married couple I know ( not in Southwark) have applied for housing benefit in March after he had very bad fall off a ladder at work...They have two children and a living purely on sickness benefit. Their local housing office have been sending rent arrears letters, despite having been informed of the situation. They have been told to pay 50.pw.

is there a time limit for councils to calculate benefit? I spoke to a benefits officer and he said they have a quality of service period of fourteens days, but they had no need to adhere to it!

does any one know?

sorry James if this is the wrong bit!

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 12 July 2004 4.47pm by James Hatts.
Monday 12 July 2004 2.02pm
This is a nightmare issue that I and others I know have encountered too many times. In the end the only thing that has ever resolved these kind of problems has been to involve my local MP (in my case Simon Hughes) or to threaten to take the council to court. How the hell these weasels win their contracts I don't know as they all seem to be criminally incompetant. Sorry Jan, this isn't much help. In my experience you have to be tenacious and prepared for a fight I think.

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 12 July 2004 4.47pm by James Hatts.
Monday 12 July 2004 9.51pm
I've had this endless times over, the quickest solution is to contact the local govt ombudsman (details in phone book). Councils seem to jump to the ombudsman in a way they dont even to Simon Hughes. This is because the time limit is indeed 2 weeks, and if they dont adhere to it the ombudsman has power to embarass the council into paying you compensation for the effects of their maladministration. I have had to use this several times, but it was long long after the 2 weeks so they may not be interested until it has gone on a bit longer.
Tuesday 13 July 2004 1.46pm
dear t.u.m.j.j...

I looked everywhere to find what the limit was...so thank you!
Tuesday 13 July 2004 3.33pm
yes, but you are right in that its a bit of a theoretical limit, in that so many cases take so much longer, that no-one takes much notice of complaints till a longer time has elapsed. But I have used the ombudman, or even threat of ombudsman, several times very successfully and do recommend it.

The other thing to say is that, whilst the tenants are, strictly speaking, liable for the rent themselves even while they are waiting for the HB to be assessed (really bizarre, especially as is effectively one section of the council housing dept paying another section of the same dept), the rent collecting people really have to be a bit understanding of the situation. Just think how many thousands if not millions of people are getting rent arrears letters whilst waiting for their benefit to be assessed. The councils have had to evolve ways of dealing with this, which usually involves sending out ever-escalating letters over many months. They have to do this to cover themselves for the people who are not on benefits but are not paying. Basically what I am saying is - do let the rent people know about the situation, send them details of the claim even. And do press the benefits people too. But don't worry about it too much, its happening all over. The point to start worrying is if you get to a 'Notice of Seeking Possession' which hopefully is many months away, and it'll all be sorted by then.

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