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					            DIPLOMA
          QUALIFICATION
            June 2011



     HOUSING AND COUNCIL TAX BENEFIT
                  LAW


Thursday 9th June 2011
1.55pm–5.00pm (incl. 5 mins. for reading)


                                  Time allowed: 3 hours



                                  Answer SIX questions
                             All questions carry equal marks

                      Where questions are divided into sections,
                                         marks
                      will be allocated equally unless otherwise
                                       indicated.

                                    Maximum marks 300




Housing and Council Tax Benefit Law, Diploma Qualification, June 2011
                                           Page 1 of 6
    1. On 1 June you discovered that a claimant had failed to notify you about
       capital of £15,000 she inherited on 1 February 2010. Her previously
       disclosed capital of £5,000 still exists. Explain how you would calculate the
       overpayment and what information must be included in the letter informing the
       claimant of the overpayment.

    2. Explain how the conversion of Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement
       Allowance to Employment & Support Allowance impacts on the calculation of
       Housing and Council Tax Benefit entitlement.

    3. Explain the term ‘exempt accommodation’ in relation to ‘old scheme’ cases.

    4. Describe the changes to the rules in relation to Local Housing Allowance that
       became effective from April 2011.

    5. Explain the circumstances under which someone can qualify for Alternative
       Maximum Council Tax Benefit.

    6. Your economic regeneration officer has asked you to give a talk to a group
       about how the income of self-employed customers is treated for Housing and
       Council Tax Benefit purposes. Write brief notes explaining the topics you
       would cover and what advice you would give.

    7. Your Council needs to make financial cuts and wishes to consider the
       implications of withdrawing the ‘local scheme’. Write a report to Members
       setting out all the relevant information to enable them to make a decision.

    8. Provide notes about each of the following terms
            a) Underlying entitlement
            b) Boarder
            c) Period of study
            d) Mesne profits

    9. Explain the impact that a period of maternity, paternity or adoption leave has
       on the calculation of entitlement to Housing and Council Tax Benefit in
       relation to income disregards.

    10. Explain how temporary absence can affect entitlement to Housing Benefit




Housing and Council Tax Benefit Law, Diploma Qualification, June 2011
                                           Page 2 of 6
                        (Diploma)Housing and Council Tax Benefit Law

                                       Examiner’s Comments

                                               June 2011

        Candidates must remember that they are expected to be able to quote
        regulation numbers and relevant case law/Commissioners’ decisions when
        answering questions. In relation to regulations numbers, it is insufficient to
        quote the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 or the Council Tax Benefit
        Regulations 2006 because specific regulation numbers are required for marks
        to be awarded. In addition, students should also quote primary legislation
        where appropriate.

        Question 1
        The majority of candidates attempted this question, although none achieved a
        pass mark. The answer should address the 13-week recalculation periods
        that the diminution of capital regulations require, followed by the items that
        must be included in a notification letter. Some candidates were unaware of
        the 13-week recalculation and simply stated that entitlement should be
        cancelled because the claimant’s capital exceeded £16,000.

        The majority of answers included the overpayment details that need to be
        included in a notification letter (e.g. reason, amount, period, method of
        recovery etc) but all failed to include details such as eligible rent/Council Tax,
        applicable amounts and income.

        Question 2
        Few candidates attempted this question, which is disappointing given that the
        conversion of Employment & Support Allowance is a recent development.
        The question related solely to the impact of the Housing Benefit and Council
        Tax Benefit implications, so marks were not awarded to candidates that
        explained the intricacies of transitional protection in relation to DWP
        payments.

        The answer should have focused on the transitional addition within a
        claimant’s applicable amount, based on a calculation as at the date of
        conversion. Details about
                Erosion and the circumstances when it ends
                12 and 104-week linking rules
                The complications associated with claims from couples
                The requirement for LA’s to exchange information when a claimant
                    moves from one area to another
        should all have been provided.

        Question 3
        Very few candidates attempted this question. Candidates needed to explain
                The type of accommodation defined as being “exempt”,
Housing and Council Tax Benefit Law, Diploma Qualification, June 2011
                                           Page 3 of 6
                    That care, support or supervision must be provided
                    That such cases are referred to the Valuation Office Agency (The
                     Rent Service) for valuation

        The subsidy implications of using a rent in the Housing Benefit calculation
        above the figure set by the VOA should have been detailed, together with
        some of the numerous cases/Commissioners’ decisions.

        Question 4
        Almost every candidate attempted this question, but some included details of
        changes that either did not relate to Local Housing Allowance (e.g. increased
        non-dependant deductions or possible future changes such as restricting the
        shared-room rate to the under-35’s).

        The six changes that needed to be detailed were
               1. The restriction to a maximum size of 4 bedrooms
               2. Caps to the LHA rates
               3. An additional bedroom of an overnight carer
               4. The end of excess payments
               5. The calculation of rates at the 30th percentile
               6. The introduction of a further criterion to allow payments to
                   landlords

        Details about new claims being affected immediately, transitional protection
        (including the circumstances when it ends), the circumstances when an extra
        bedroom can be allowed for a carer (which also applies to cases referred to
        the VOA) and the circumstances when payments can be made to the landlord
        were all required.

        Question 5
        Almost every candidate attempted this question and some high quality
        answers were provided. Details should have included who should claim (and
        that they must provide evidence of identity and NINO), that the award is
        based on the gross weekly income of the second adult(s), which second
        adults are & aren’t eligible, the rates of award, the better-buy calculation, that
        entitlement is apportioned between joint owners and that Discretionary
        Housing Payments cannot be awarded in respect of Second Adult Rebate
        awards.

        Question 6
        This question was attempted by the majority of candidates and provided an
        opportunity to detail all aspects about the calculation of self-employed
        income, including
                The distinction between employed and self-employed claimants
                Gross profit – allowable expenses = chargeable income
                Expenses must be wholly and exclusively incurred
                The maximum accounting period
                Examples of allowable and non-allowable expenses
                Notional tax and NI

Housing and Council Tax Benefit Law, Diploma Qualification, June 2011
                                           Page 4 of 6
                    Documents and information that a claimant should provided
                    For new businesses, an estimate is acceptable
                    Case law

        Question 7
        Less than half the candidates attempted this question, but of those who did
        more than half obtained a pass mark. The question required the answer to be
        in the format of a report, for which credit was given.

        Details should have included the statutory disregards, the subsidy
        implications of operating a local scheme (including fictitious figures to
        demonstrate an understanding), a local scheme must be agreed by resolution
        of Elected Members (separately for Housing and Council Tax Benefit) and
        that claims affected by the scheme are likely to be scrutinized by auditors.

        Question 8
        This was a four-part question that required an answer to each part
           1. Underlying Entitlement (UE) relates to reducing an overpayment by
               the amount of benefit that a claimant would have been entitled to. UE
               only applies to an overpaid period and can never exceed the value of
               the overpayment. In effect it overrides the rule about late notification
               of a beneficial change and there is no time limit within which UE can
               be claimed
           2. A boarder is someone whose rent includes meals or the provision of
               food. The rent is treated as the claimant’s income subject to a £20
               weekly disregard with half the balance being treated as income. A
               boarder can claim Housing Benefit in their own right
           3. The period of study relates to students and the duration of their
               course, with different rules relating to courses lasting less than a year,
               those lasting more than a year and final year students. Candidates
               should also include details about abandonment of the course and
               absence from the course
           4. Mesne Profits are eligible costs for Housing Benefit and are generally
               awarded by a Court when a tenant remains beyond the end of the
               tenancy in respect of use and occupation in lieu of rent.

        Question 9
        Very few candidates attempted this question. The answer needed to include
        details about the rules in respect of
                 The basic earnings disregards
                           o Which also apply to statutory maternity, paternity, sick
                               and adoption pay plus maternity allowance
                           o Are applied to earnings first and then to Tax Credits
                 Permitted earnings disregards
                 The additional earnings disregard
                 The Child Care disregard
                 The circumstances when the claimant/partner continues to be
                   treated as being in remunerative work when on leave

        Question 10


Housing and Council Tax Benefit Law, Diploma Qualification, June 2011
                                           Page 5 of 6
        Virtually every candidate attempted this question, and some high quality
        answers were provided. However, there was some confusion amongst some
        candidates who also detailed circumstances where Housing Benefit can be
        awarded on two homes simultaneously.

        The answer needed to include details about
               S130 of the SSCBA requires a claimant to be in occupation of the
                 property and liable to pay rent
               R7 of the HB Regulations provides for circumstances where the
                 claimant should be treated as being in occupation despite them
                 being temporarily absent
               The three qualifying conditions
               13 & 52-week categories, with examples of each
               Claimants can “switch” between the categories
               If the period of absence ends then a new period of temporary
                 absence applies (as illustrated by case law)
               When the intention to return ends, benefit entitlement ends (i.e. 13
                 or 52 weeks’ benefit cannot be awarded in any case)




Housing and Council Tax Benefit Law, Diploma Qualification, June 2011
                                           Page 6 of 6

				
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