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Housing benefit reduced by £250! Will miss rent!!

(9 Posts)
Mismummy Mon 11-Apr-16 05:26:08

Hi guys, new here.
I am a single mum working for myself and looking after my son who has learning disabilities. I am currently struggling to get my business onto the next level as I have no access to funding because my credit score isn't good enough even though I am not late on any bills.
Anyway I just learnt my housing benefit has been reduced to £100 a month from £174 every 2 weeks. I pay full council tax and have to top up my rent every month. The reason for the reduction?? The council say i have a non dependent living with me!! This is not true. Last year, I let a friend stay on my couch for a couple of weeks as he was homeless. I had to kick him out as he obviously had a gambling and anger problem that I wasn't having from anyone and not around my child. When he was here, he registered for Job seekers allowance and from what I know bounced around from job to job after that, surfed from couch to couch. He found a girlfriend, moved in with her, got arrested, prosecuted by cps and found guilty of beating her up. I found out about this when I got a letter with magistrates return address addressed to him regarding his fines and conviction! I had to call them to remove my address and any association from that court case. Well now I just found out my housing benefit has been reduced and my council tax will go up to £80 a month because of this non dependent person who lived with me for a few weeks. I am so stressed out right now, having panic attacks, it's 5am monday and I haven't slept since early morning sunday. I am going to be short on rent on Wednesday, will fall behind on all my bills and I don't think I will recover financially from this to make or catch up with rent. I don't know what to do or the point of trying to get out of the never ending struggle when everything that can go wrong always goes wrong. The council are not having any of it that this person doesn't live here as I am assuming he has been using my address in his temp jobs if he used it for the courts.
What do I do?

honeysucklejasmine Mon 11-Apr-16 05:47:36

I don't know if it's possible but invite them round to see no trace of it? Or somehow report him for fraudulently using your address? Not sure how or who too though.

Citizens Advice?

Friendlystories Mon 11-Apr-16 05:51:07

Appeal the housing benefit decision OP. State the facts, that he was a guest in your home for a couple of weeks only, did not contribute financially to your household and that you never gave permission for him to use your address. I'm not sure who the burden of proof lies with here but if there is no evidence he has been living with you (and so contributing to your household financially), no undeclared income on your bank statements or photographs taken by benefit fraud investigators to prove he lived there longer than you say I wouldn't think they'd have a leg to stand on and you would win your appeal, your benefit will then be backdated at the proper rate and you could pay off any rent arrears accumulated. Who do you rent from, private landlord or local authority/housing association? If it's local authority/HA you should have less of a problem while you wait for an appeal decision, just ring them and explain there's been an error regarding you having someone living with you and that you are appealing the decision and will settle your rent account as soon as it's sorted. Your account will go into arrears and you may even be issued with a Notice of Intended Repossession which sounds terrifying but is just a process the LA/HA have to follow and should allow enough time for your benefit appeal to be dealt with before any action is actually taken. It's highly unlikely that process will get as far as court but if it did the court would grant an extension to allow the appeal to be dealt with, you would not be evicted. If you're in private rent you would need to speak to your landlord and hope that they would be understanding enough to wait for your rent while your appeal is processed but even if they won't they still have to follow a legal process which should also allow enough time for your appeal to be dealt with. It's a shit situation for you but you've done nothing wrong and, as there is no proof your friend lived with you for longer than you've said it should be fairly easy to sort. Let me know if you need any help writing your appeal letter for the housing benefit department, I'd be more than happy to put something together for you. And try not to worry flowers

Bubbinsmakesthree Mon 11-Apr-16 06:43:35

I think the best thing you can do will be to get some decent welfare rights advice ASAP, before you do anything else. CAB is a good starting point.

I don't think it makes any difference whether the person has ever contributed financially - the system expects anyone living with you to contribute, irrespective of whether thy are able to. It is called a 'non-dependent deduction'. I think theoretically the OP should have notified the council when this person was first staying with you and then notified again when they left.

I think professional advice is the best way forward before you do anything else as you need to know exactly how to appeal the decision.

Lighteningirll Mon 11-Apr-16 06:51:19

Unfortunately you moved an adult into your home and allowed him to stay you need to prove that he has gone, it wasn't a partner, and that he only stayed for two weeks. Your benefits will be reinstated but you can't expect benefits to pay to house anyone you feel like inviting in. This has happened to one of our tenants and she lost her benefits for a month but they were reinstated after.

Friendlystories Mon 11-Apr-16 06:56:50

But benefits weren't 'paying to house' OP's friend, the amount of rent for her property wouldn't have been affected by having a friend to stay and housing benefit entitlement is calculated on income so if he wasn't contributing to that income it wouldn't affect her benefit.

Lighteningirll Mon 11-Apr-16 07:17:38

The problem is that an adult not entitled to her benefits moved into a home paid for by her benefits. Single person council tax discount was removed as the home no longer contained a single adult it contained two, one deemed capable of working. Rent was reduced for the same reason. It will all be reinstated but you can't just move anyone in when you are on benefits as a lone parent. I am so sorry OP your good deed has spectacularly backfired I would be totally honest with the benefit office and just keep appealing. I would also report him to the police for fraudulently using your address, I had this when one of my teenage daughters boyfriend started using our address it was a nightmare he only stayed a week and used my address for a year.

Bubbinsmakesthree Mon 11-Apr-16 07:31:54

* housing benefit entitlement is calculated on income so if he wasn't contributing to that income it wouldn't affect her benefit.*

Non-dependent deductions have nothing to do with income - if you have a non-dependent living with you, your HB is reduced by a fixed amount on the assumption that the person ought to be making a financial contribution (even if in practice they are not).

This is potentially tricky for the OP as this person has been claiming to live at her address for a period of some months. She has already found that the council don't want to listen to her protests.

OP I am sure there is a way to get this resolved, but get professional advice as your next step. My worry would be accidentally making matters worse for yourself if you don't know exactly what you are doing. Well-meaning advice from strangers on the internet could make things worse rather than better.

Mismummy Mon 11-Apr-16 07:37:03

He only stayed for a few weeks around June last year. He was homeless and it was only meant to be temporary. I didn't think I had to notify the council and then call them again after 4 weeks to say he is gone. He did not contribute anything, had a gambling problem I didn't know about before and anger issues, reason why he was kicked out. I rent privately, my landlord says he will give me some time but I still have a £300 shortfall every month now so will never really catch up. I was really hoping to get my driving sorted by next month so I can get a job on top of been self employed to raise funds for the business but now I feel like I have gone back 12 steps. There is proof with the courts and police that would prove this person had moved out to be with his gf for some time when the incident happened between them but I only have the letter from the magistrates to show. What other proof do I need to show he left and never came back?

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