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Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit

General Information Bulletin

<

Department for Work and Pensions, 1st Floor, Caxton House, Tothill Street, London SW1 9NA

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/local-authority-staff/housing-benefit/<

HB/CTB G5/2011         20 May 2011

Contact

Queries about the

·     technical content of this bulletin, contact details are given at the end of each article

·     distribution of this bulletin,contact Corporate Document Services Ltd Orderline

­     Email: orderline@cds.co.uk<

·     bulletin in general, contact Kath Murphy

­     Email: Kath.Murphy@dwp.gsi.gov.uk<

Who should read

All Housing Benefit (HB) and Council Tax Benefit (CTB) staff

Action

For information

Contents         page

 

Guidance on pre-employment screening. 2<

Calculation of overpayments – underlying entitlement3<

HB/CTB cases awaiting decision by the Upper Tribunal4<

Statutory Instruments. 5<

What’s new on the web. 5<

HB/CTB Circulars issued recently. 6<

 

Crown Copyright 2011

Recipients may freely reproduce this bulletin.



Guidance on pre-employment screening

Why is this guidance being issued?

1          This guidance is being issued by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to provide local authorities (LAs) with details of the Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) that all central government departments and agencies, including LAs, must comply with to enable them to be given access to government assets. In this context, an asset includes any DWP and
HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC) customer information accessed for the purpose of administering Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (HB/CTB).

What is the BPSS?

2          The BPSS is a pre-employment screening process. It comprises verification of the elements outlined below

·    Identity

·    Nationality and Immigration Status

·    Employment history (minimum of the past three years), and

·    Criminal record (unspent convictions only)

3          In addition, prospective employees are required to give a reasonable account of any significant periods (six months or more in the past three years) of time spent abroad.

How can unspent convictions be checked?

4          Under the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, it is reasonable for employers to ask individuals for details of any unspent criminal convictions.

5          Disclosure Scotland offers a check of unspent criminal records through its Basic Disclosure service – further information about this service can be found at http://www.disclosurescotland.co.uk/<. Alternatively, the individual employee could produce a copy of his or her own Basic Disclosure certificate.

6          Disclosure Scotland recommends that larger organisations who require a substantial number of Basic Disclosures register with them as ‘Responsible Bodies’. Any LA, where this applies, should consider whether registering as a Responsible Body would be advantageous. Further information about the Registration process can be obtained from the Disclosure Scotland Helpdesk – 0870 609 6006 – or, by e-mail – info@disclosurescotland.co.uk<

From what date should the BPSS requirements be implemented?

7          LAs are required to implement the BPSS from the date of receipt of this guidance.

8          DWP’s Housing Delivery Division Memorandum of Understanding has been redrafted to include the requirement to fully comply with the BPSS.

Who does the BPSS apply to?

9          The BPSS checks apply to any employee assigned to a post that will require access to DWP and HMRC information.

              NB:There is no requirement to apply the BPSS to employees already in these posts at the time this guidance is received. However, any existing employee newly assigned and any employee recruited in the future and assigned to such a post will need to satisfy BPSS verification requirements.

Where can I find further information?

10          The latest version of the BPSS, which includes detailed information on how each of the verification checks can be carried out, can be found on the Cabinet Office public website at: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/sites/default/files/resources/baseline-personnel-security-standard.pdf<

Queries

11          Local Authority Security & Support Team (LASST) can be contacted onHBSDSecurity.Team@dwp.gsi.gov.uk<

Calculation of overpayments – underlying entitlement

12          Following a review of a small number of overpayment decision notices, we have identified that some LAs are not always considering underlying entitlement when HB or CTB has been overpaid (HB Regulation 104 (State Pension Credit (SPC) Regulation 85) and CTB Regulation 89 (SPC Regulation 74)). Underlying entitlement is mandatory and must always be considered. It is part of the overpayment calculation.

13          LAs must establish the customer’s correct circumstances over the overpayment period and calculate entitlement based on those circumstances at the correct time. The underlying entitlement must be deducted from the gross overpayment amount. Please refer to paragraphs 3.50 to 3.80 of the HB/CTB Overpayments Guide for detailed guidance, including an underlying entitlement process map http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/hbopg-calc-op.pdf<

14          The most common occurrence of underlying entitlement not being considered is when a DWP passported benefit has been cancelled for a past period.
For example, the customer has been found to be working or they had not declared they were living together with a partner. Even if the customer has committed fraud, underlying entitlement must be considered. A customer may have been entitled to HB or CTB on low income grounds even though there was no entitlement to a DWP passported benefit. The customer’s correct circumstances must be established, there may be customer’s earnings or partner’s income and calculate their underlying entitlement to HB/CTB for the period in question.



15          By calculating underlying entitlement

·    LAs will have overpaid less; there will be less debt to recover, equates to less work 

·    LAs can claim 100% subsidy for any underlying entitlement calculated, rather than the 40% subsidy, which is the amount normally reimbursed for overpayments

·    the customer’s overpayment amount will be lower, they will have less money to repay

·    in prosecution cases, the amount of the overpayment may influence the penalty given by the Court, therefore it is essential that the overpayment is calculated correctly

16          When the overpayment calculation is completed, an overpayment decision notice must be issued to the customer. It must include certain information including the customer’s right to apply for a revision of the decision and where appropriate, right of appeal. The customer does not need to have applied for a revision of the decision in order to appeal. This information is again mandatory and must be included in all overpayment decision notices. Please refer to paragraph 5.07 of the HB/CTB Overpayments Guide, which lists the information that must be included in an overpayment decision notice http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/hbopg-decision.pdf< and paragraphs 6.30 to 6.34, which outlines the dispute process if a customer does not agree with the overpayment decision http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/hbopg-appeals.pdf<

Queries

17          Any queries or requests for further information you be sent to Jane.Autherson@dwp.gsi.gov.uk<
Tel 0113 232 7755

HB/CTB cases awaiting decision by the Upper Tribunal

18          Decision Making and Appeals (DMA) Leeds is aware of the following HB/CTB cases that are awaiting decision by the Upper Tribunal:

·    CH/526/2011: interpretation of HBR 9(1)(c)(i) – claimant is ex-partner of joint owner

·    CH/378/2011: imprisonment and home detention curfew days

·    CH/999/2010:  one week break in claim required for move from HB to LHA – Secretary of State expected to join

·    Update on CH/2823/2009: LHA – disabled single claimant's second bedroom being used by non-resident care team members. We are aware some cases were stayed locally pending the outcome at the Upper Tribunal. The claimant has now been granted permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal. 

19          Thank you to those authorities that have let us know about cases they are appealing. Please notify us of cases at the point that the application for leave to appeal is made to the Upper Tribunal office, or the appeal is lodged following grant of leave by a First Tier Tribunal Judge. Please let us know if a case reference (CH/.. or CSH/..) has been allocated.



Queries

20          If you have any queries about cases before the Upper Tribunal Judges or courts, please contact us by

·    email at

·    DMALeeds.customersupportservices@dwp.gsi.gov.uk< or
fax on 0113 2324841

Statutory Instruments

21          The following Statutory Instruments (SIs) have now been laid

·    2011 No.1159, The Equality Act 2010 (Guidance on the Definition of Disability) Appointed Day Order 2011 – coming into force 1 May 2011

·    2011 No.1245, The Pensions Act 2007 (Abolition of Contracting-out for Defined Contribution Pension Schemes) (Consequential Amendments) Regulations 2011 – coming into force from 6 April 2012

·    2011 No.1246, The Pensions Act 2008 (Abolition of Protected Rights) (Consequential Amendments) Order 2011 – coming into force from
6 April 2012

·    2011 No.1266 (C.50), The Pensions Act 2008 (Commencement No.10) Order 2011 – coming into force from 6 April 2012

22          Copies of SIs can now be downloaded from DWP’s own website http://www.dwp.gov.uk/publications/specialist-guides/law-volumes/the-law-relating-to-social-security/< and the website of the Office of Publication Sector Information http://www.opsi.gov.uk/stat.htm<

What’s new on the web

23          The following items can be found on the website link shown.

Document Type

Subject

Link

HB/CTB Circular A9/2011

Local Housing Allowance Transition Fund: Invitation to bid for funding

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/a9-2011.pdf<

HB/CTB Circular S5/2011

Correction to HB/CTB Subsidy Circular S1/2011 - Further subsidy changes applicable from 1 April 2011 – HB subsidy for customers living in temporary accommodation

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/s5-2011.pdf<

 

HB Direct issue 113 May 2011

Newsletter

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/issue-113-may-11.pdf<

 

HB/CTB Bulletin G4/2011

Local authority separate business interest name change

Increase to the HB/CTB higher permitted work disregard from October 2011

Local Housing Allowance Reforms

State Pension Green Paper published

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/g4-2011.pdf<

 

HB/CTB Circularsissued recently

24          The following HB/CTB Circulars have been issued recently

HB/CTB Circular A10/2010

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