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Trust Investigates loophole on Under Occupancy

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Trust Investigates loophole on Under Occupancy


Published by Laura Beckett for Halton Housing Trust in Housing and also in Care and Support, Communities, Local Government, Universal Credit

Halton Housing Trust is working towards identifying customers who may be affected by the recently announced ‘loophole.’

Recent information has highlighted a loophole in the rules around the Under Occupancy Charge.  The loophole means that any social housing tenants affected by the Under Occupancy Charge who have been living at the same address and entitled to claim housing benefit continuously since 1 January 1996 may be affected.

The revelation suggests there are a number of residents who have been wrongly affected by the Under Occupancy Charge and have seen their housing benefit reduce since April 2013.  The Department for Works and Pensions is currently working to change the law by March 2014, so any effect will only be temporary.

The rules are complicated with some allowances or exceptions such as a tenant who has continuously lived at the same address since 1st January 1996, (unless forced to move because of fire, flood, explosion or natural catastrophe) and have claimed Housing Benefit continuously since then.  (A break of up to four weeks is allowed, or up to 52 weeks for Welfare to Work program beneficiaries).

The Trust is looking at the records of their customers who may be affected and have identified 58 possible cases.

Jonathan Horsfall, Area Manager at the Trust said: “An oversight when the new law was agreed by Parliament means a small minority of customers may be paying the under occupation charge when they don’t need to.  We are working through our records to identify those who now may be exempt but please continue paying the charge until you are formally notified that you do not need to.”

If you have any questions please our Welfare Benefit and Money Advice Officers on 0151 510 5024.


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