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to be confused wrt what's okay and what's not wrt benefits?

(26 Posts)
thirstforknowledge Wed 06-Jul-11 10:37:29

Not a benefit bashing thread in any way shape or form btw.

There seems to me to be alot of confusion wrt benefits and what is/isn't allowed whilst claiming particular benefits, to the point that some people are told different things by different DWP officials.
Why isn't it much more concise and clear?

For example;

How many nights can a partner stay over before it affects the tenants benefits?
How much can a person on benefits receive in the form of gifts before it affects their benefits?
How much can a child have in savings before this affects the parents benefit entitlement?
I'm sure there are many more questions, but I have heard different answers to the same hypothetical questions many many times.

Off the top of my head, I have heard......

If someone is on housing benefit/council tax benefit and is supported wholly by family/friends, then whatever they are given (money/food/bills paid) is classed as a gift and as such, cannot be used in calculating housing benefit/council tax benefit.

People on couples JSA can earn £20 a week each without it affecting their benefit.

If your DP lives with you, but works nights fulltime, he is technically not at your home for more than 2 nights a week and therefore you can legally claim income support/housing benefit. (I was told this by a DWP employee shock)

People on means tested benefits can be made to sell assets such as cars/jewellery etc (not houses) to support themselves until they have no valuable assets left.

If a couple are working full time, then the husband loses his job, he can claim JSA, regardless of whether he has made enough contributions because he is unemployed and as such is entitled to income based JSA.

If a single parent on income support receives maintenance, and hypothetically, it was £7K a month, paid monthly, when does this go from being maintenance and not used in the calculation of benefits to savings which are? How long does it have to remain in the bank account to be classed as 'savings'?

If anyone else has any questions, please feel free to post.

I am sure there is many things people are just not sure about, and sometimes, it feels like it really depends on whom you speak to within the council/DWP as to what answer you get.

Why can't it be much clearer, more concise and as transparent as possible so people know what is permitted and what isn't. confused

itisnearlysummer Wed 06-Jul-11 10:50:29

If your DP lives with you, but works nights fulltime, he is technically not at your home for more than 2 nights a week and therefore you can legally claim income support/housing benefit. (I was told this by a DWP employee )

This is nonsense and based on semantics because someone can only stop over for 3 (I think) nights before it affects benefits. But someone who lives there and works nights. Nonsense!

If a couple are working full time, then the husband loses his job, he can claim JSA, regardless of whether he has made enough contributions because he is unemployed and as such is entitled to income based JSA.

If the husband loses his job he can make a claim for JSA. If he has paid enough contributions he will get contributions based JSA, if not then his wife's income would be taken into consideration.

I think it is pretty clear. When you apply you get a booklet with all the information in it and it's on the internet. And whilst I know that not everyone has internet access, you clearly do.

ZillionChocolate Wed 06-Jul-11 11:00:32

How about just telling them the truth of your circumstances and letting them work out your entitlement?!

thirstforknowledge Wed 06-Jul-11 11:08:34

I was told 'gifts' are a grey area.

Zillion I appreciate what you are saying, but people's situations are constantly changing.
I might sell some stuff on Ebay this week, or do a boot sale, but may not do one next week. It is my birthday soon, how much am I allowed to receive for my birthday?
Shall I just ring the DWP every time I sell an item on Ebay, or do a boot sale, or have a birthday or new years to explain what I received for xmas to verify I'm not doing anything wrong? hmm

I keep hearing of people who are confused as to what is permitted and what isn't. IMO, the booklets don't have all of the information in. Sorry but they don't. This is why such confusion exists.

onagar Wed 06-Jul-11 11:18:30

My experience with these things is decades old so it might be better now (yeah right) but in my day they often didn't know the rules and just made stuff up based on their personal opinion or going by what the rules were when they themselves started working there.

You'd get more accurate and unbiased information from citizens advice places.

itisnearlysummer Wed 06-Jul-11 11:20:50

Have you tried Direct.gov.uk? There might be answers to some of you questions there.

thirstforknowledge Wed 06-Jul-11 11:24:09

Thanks onagar

I have found this to still be the case.
There is not enough clear information, it is all rather vague. sad

In fact, 2 DWP employees on the same day will say different things. confused

I have looked at the direct.gov website but it is still very vague. If anyone has any links to some precise information, I'd be very interested to read it. smile

DooinMeCleanin Wed 06-Jul-11 11:26:18

The staying over thing is a red herring. Somone could not stay over at all, ever. But if you are in a relationship with them 'financially', as in if they pay regularly towards the upkeep of your house/children beyond child support, your benefits will be effected.

I agree with going to CAB if you need help. It's all very confusing and the DWP staff themselves do not seem to undertsand it. CAB told me the above when my HB was stopped because I had a savings account into which my partner (who did not live with me at the time) paid £15 a month.

thirstforknowledge Wed 06-Jul-11 11:31:01

Oh no Dooin

Did you get it reinstated?

DooinMeCleanin Wed 06-Jul-11 11:32:47

Yes and back paid, eventually.

It was bollocks because even with regular payments like that, they need to be of more than £20 per week before they effect your benefits, but the person doing my review did not understand the rule properly.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 06-Jul-11 11:34:23

I was also going to suggest you read Direct.gov.uk. You also have to engage a little commonsense when it comes to sources of income, taxes and benefits. You don't get taxed on your birthday or Christmas presents, for example. Why would they affect a benefit award?

gallicgirl Wed 06-Jul-11 11:42:14

It's not about how many nights your partner is staying over but whether you are "living together as husband wife". DWP would look at contributions financially and logistically to household.

Monetary gifts are difficult to determine. If it's a one-off gift now and again then it's obviously a gift but if your mum pays £50 into your bank account every month to help you pay bills, then it's income and should be counted as such when benefits are calculated.

The problem is that the legislation is written very poorly and the government has to issue guidance which could keep changing as new situations come to light. This guidance doesn't always trickle down to front line staff and even if it does, staff might interpret it in different ways or not remember it as there are so many changes to assimilate.

Birdsgottafly Wed 06-Jul-11 11:42:45

The DP working nights is wrong, he lives there.

Means testing is generally £16k but lessons for grants and loans and some benefits.

The LP getting £7K would be classed as income and should not get benefit.

You are resonsible for declaring income and you are asked 'do you have any other money coming in?'

The gifts are a grey area because people can claim benefits but other people can pay the childs school fees, for example.
If benefit was stopped based on gifts, you would probably win by challenging it except in exceptional cases.

Very few people get IS and everu benefit has conditionality attached, except for universal benefits like D.L.A.

Birdsgottafly Wed 06-Jul-11 11:44:24

I would say to anyone to have a benefit check at their CAB or Welfare rights organisation and remember that you have the right to appeal. At present 75% of appeals are upheld, in some cases 100%.

Birdsgottafly Wed 06-Jul-11 11:46:43

Means testing is money or property (that isn't the main family home) held, not goods (posessions).

The old means test was goods also but that went years ago, they used to walk in and if you had a piano in the house or extra sheets/pans, you got nothing.

thirstforknowledge Wed 06-Jul-11 11:53:23

Birdsgot The LP could be getting £7K a month from the NRP as maintenance though. Is it classed as savings straightaway, or after a certain time frame? confused

thirstforknowledge Wed 06-Jul-11 11:55:36

And I thought child maintenance wasn't counted anymore wrt means tested benefits?
If it isn't counted, what is the limit to how much a LP can receive in child maintenance?

itisnearlysummer Wed 06-Jul-11 12:06:22

http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/index/your_money/benefits/help_for_people_on_a_low_income_-_income_support.htm

there's some info on here.

itisnearlysummer Wed 06-Jul-11 12:06:50

sorry

www.adviceguide.org.uk/index/your_money/benefits/help_for_people_on_a_low_income_-_income_support.htm

itisnearlysummer Wed 06-Jul-11 12:07:57

If the maintenance is needed and used for the child, it won't be classed as savings.

Besides, the DWP doesn't have a hotline to your bank account. How would they know?

Birdsgottafly Wed 06-Jul-11 12:08:18

She has to declare in 'as other income' even if she spends it. The only 'gain' that is discounted is when a property is sold and the money used to re-house yourself.

Other factors count, you can be given a chunk of money, 7k in the LP case, if you can justify the expenditure ie you live in a rural area and need a car to work, you can buy one. So it is down to individual factors. If it is regular then it is income.

Anything above what is on the CSA calculater is income, but all of it will count towards IS but possibly not towards HB/CT, you have to declare it though and let them do the calculation.

You could win an award for medical negligence and if you can show that the money was spent on something that would enhance your life, then it is not counted. I know of someone who got a spa for the spare bedroom, but it stopped them from living on pain killers and was cheaper than traveling and using the public one after a few years.

Birdsgottafly Wed 06-Jul-11 12:11:30

If the child maintainance is given to keep the child living in the circumstances in which it is used to them sometimes it can be discounted. It is how it is arranged. NRP can give, to pay for expensive hobbies, such as horse riding but if they are a riding family that can be justified.

There isn't one answer, sorry.

Birdsgottafly Wed 06-Jul-11 12:13:49

A woman fleeing DV will have her HB/CT paid for 6 months, even though they have got property elsewhere, to give them time to sort their finances out. This rule applies to abandoned women with rich husbands. So there are exceptions to cover emergencies.

MadYoungCatLady Wed 06-Jul-11 12:29:58

I know CSA payments do not count towards IS - couldn't tell you the upper limit on this though. I'm interested now though... don't think 7k will be 15% of exH's income anytime soon so I wont worry too much!

What I don't understand is SDP - my mum was receiving this on top of her IS as she get mid-rate care and high-rate mobility components of DLA. My dad gets low-rate care and high-rate mob. They do live together as a couple - they are seperated, have different bedrooms, even different lounges! But my mum is not entitled to claim SDP to help someone care for her as she has someone living with her (who can't care for her due to the mobility issues, on top of why the hell would he if they are not together!!).
She has put a roof over my dads head because he has nowhere else to go, and there is simply no housing in our area (it took me three years to be re-housed from a 1-bed flat covered in black mould with no kitchen and my DP and I sleeping on a mattress on the lounge floor, black mould led to me suffering a mc). It makes me so cross!!!

I know there isn't the man-power to look into each case individually, but when there are so many people who claim benefits when they don't bloody well need to.... arghhhhh.

Birdsgottafly Wed 06-Jul-11 13:06:06

Can you not claim carers allowance, or someone else in the family, this is paid at the same rate as SDP. Is your dad young enough to? he doesn't have to prove that he is caring for her.

If they are legally separated then she could claim but as they have lived together as husband and wife, they have to have a legal separation.

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