We All Make Mistakes. Some Attract More Attention Than Others……

What connects a recent news item concerning the Department of Work and Pensions with the English Lake District? Perhaps all that needs to be said is that the four Uldale Fells in the north of the region are Great Sca Fell, Longlands Fell, Meal Fell and Great Cockup Fell.  The last of these is a significant Fell with an elevation of over 1,700 ft. above sea level

The Bedroom Tax also known as the Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy (RSRS) has been found to have been wrongly applied to certain people (estimates of the numbers affected range from 5,000 to 40,000 nationwide) since April 2013.  Those to whom it applies are social housing tenants of working age who have:

–       received Housing Benefit and

–       lived in the same property continuously

since 1st January 1996 or before then.  This means it is most likely to affect those in low paid jobs or those unable to work because they are disabled or suffer from a long term heath condition, which include the most vulnerable members of society.  The underlying reason is that the ‘eligible rent’ has been wrongly assessed.

The term ’continuously’ still apples if there has been a break in occupancy resulting from fire, flood, explosion or natural catastrophe which made it impossible to occupy the property.  It also applies if there was a break in entitlement to Housing Benefit of 4 weeks or less or 52 weeks or less if the claimant or his/her partner is or has been  a welfare to work beneficiary’. Welfare to work is where someone who is long term sick and getting certain benefits tries to work and then goes sick again.

The number of people in Waverley entitled to reclaim cuts in housing benefit which have been wrongly deducted is also not known.  It has been estimated that there are around 320 Waverley and other housing association tenants to whom the Bedroom Tax/RSRS has been applied.  It is also believed that there are around 700 social housing tenants in the Borough who have been resident in the same property since 1st January 1996 or longer.  The DWP has advised Local Authorities to consider whether they are “reasonably able to identify potentially affected claimants” from their records and Waverley Borough Council is believed to be currently engaged in this exercise.

eanwhile, if you think you are eligible for a refund you should write to your local authority setting out the reasons why you believe this to be the case.  The refund will apply from 1st April 2013 to the date the eligible rent is re-assessed.  The DWP is seeking to amend the regulations to close the loophole so that relief from the Bedroom Tax/RSRS will be temporary

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