Housing Benefit

It has been brought to our notice that some almshouse residents could be being short changed on Housing Benefit.

This can arise because charities are averse to referring to periodic charges as ‘rent’, preferring instead to use such legalistic subterfuges as ‘weekly maintenance contribution’ or ‘service charge’ etc. and it is this that causes confusion in local authority housing departments.

Accordingly, local authorities do not appreciate that residents are still personally liable for utility charges metered to their accommodation. It is also the case that Housing Benefit will not cover such cost elements as estimates for un-metered heating, lighting, water supply and sewerage.

Over and above these exceptions, the balance of any periodic payment exacted by trustees is recoverable via Housing Benefit for those eligible to claim it.

Any element of a periodic payment out of which the resident may not opt ought to be recoverable via Housing Benefit. To illustrate; it is not compulsory for a resident to own or use a television set but that resident cannot withhold an element appropriated to a communal aerial system. The cost of maintenance of communal areas and landscape environs similarly may not be opted out from. Accordingly, such charges are recoverable via Housing Benefit.

The exact amount to be claimed may stand to be determined via liaison and negotiation between claimant, landlord and local authority but it is ineluctably the case that almshouse residents are entitled to Housing Benefit.

Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Pension Credit are means tested benefits. If your gross income is less than (currently) £142.70 per week you should be claiming these benefits. Individual cases brought to our notice will be reported on our News Page.

On a related matter: by reason that not all almshouse residents are eligible for Housing Benefit, the argument of Sir John Vinelott in the judgement of Gray v Taylor is invalidated. We address this aspect in detail in the ‘Flawed Judgement’ page.

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