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					                                                                 HB Memo 2/12


     THE SOCIAL SECURITY (RECOVERY) (AMENDMENT)
     REGULATIONS (NORTHERN IRELAND) 2012 (SR 2012 No.
     108)

     Contents                                                Paragraphs

     Introduction                                            1

     Effective date of changes                               2

     Maximum deduction to recover an overpayment             3
     raised as a result of fraud and rounding rules

     Sums to be deducted in calculating recoverable          4
     Overpayments

     Contacts


     INTRODUCTION

1.   This memo contains guidance on amendments to The Housing Benefit
     Regulations (NI) 2006 and The Housing Benefit (Persons who have
     attained the qualifying age for State Pension Credit) Regulations (NI)
     2006 as a result of the amendments made by The Social Security
     (Recovery) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2012 [S.R. 2012 No. 108] in
     relation to increases in the maximum deductions which can be made
     from housing benefit to recover an overpayment which has arisen as a
     result of fraud. The amendment also makes changes concerning the
     calculation of a recoverable overpayment and aligns rules for rounding in
     the calculation of the maximum deduction.

     EFFECTIVE DATE OF CHANGES

2.   The changes will come into effect on 1 April 20121.

                                               1 SS (Rec) (Amdt) Regs (NI) 2012, reg 1


     MAXIMUM DEDUCTION TO RECOVER AN OVERPAYMENT RAISED
     AS A RESULT OF FRAUD AND ROUNDING RULES

3.   Regulations currently provide that the maximum deduction to be taken
     from housing benefit when recovering an overpayment which has arisen
     as a result of fraud is the equivalent of 4 times 5% of the personal
     allowance for a single claimant aged not less than 25; this is increasing
     to 5 times 5% of this amount. The actual age of the claimant is
     irrelevant. Where this amount is not a multiple of 5 pence it should be
     rounded to the next higher multiple of 5 pence1.

                                  1 HB Regs (NI), reg 99(4); HB (SPC) Regs (NI), reg 80(4)

     Example

     The Personal Allowance for over 25 year olds from April 2012 is £71.00.

     5% of £71.00 = £3.55 (no rounding required as this figure is a multiple of
     5).

     The maximum deduction will therefore be £17.75 per week i.e. 5 x £3.55.

     SUMS TO BE DEDUCTED IN CALCULATING RECOVERABLE
     OVERPAYMENTS

4.   Regulations currently provide that in certain circumstances the amount
     of a recoverable overpayment shall be reduced by any underlying
     entitlement i.e. the amount of housing benefit that would have been
     payable if the correct award had been made. The regulations have been
     amended to clarify that this includes partners so that where a person,
     who is a member of a couple, has been overpaid housing benefit the
     overpayment should be reduced by any underlying entitlement their
     partner would have been entitled to during the overpayment period1.

                                 1 HB Regs (NI), reg 101(1); HB (SPC) Regs (NI), reg 82(1)

     Example

     John Smith and Lisa Black live in the same dwelling but both make
     claims for Housing Benefit separately. Due to their circumstances they
     are each awarded housing benefit at the shared accommodation rate
     (£50.00).

     A year later it is discovered that they are and always have been living
     together as a couple.

     It is decided that the claimant for housing benefit should be Mr Smith
     and as a member of a couple he should have been entitled to the one
     bedroom rate of Local Housing Allowance (£75.00). The £25 difference
     means that the original decision was not more advantageous therefore a
     supersession of that award is required and the extra benefit would not be
     payable for the past period.

     There is therefore an underlying entitlement of £1,300 (£25 for 52
     weeks).

     Ms Black is not entitled to housing benefit and has been overpaid for one
     year (£50.00 X 52 weeks = £2,600)
The overpayment should be reduced by underlying entitlement based on
the difference between the shared room rate (£50.00) and the one
bedroom rate (£75.00) that Mr Smith would have been paid if the correct
information had been known at the time.

Ms Black’s overpayment would therefore be reduced by £1,300.00
(£75.00 - £50.00 x 52 weeks).


CONTACTS

If you have any queries about this memo, please contact:

Decision Making Services
Level 1
James House
Gasworks Business Park
Cromac Place
Belfast
BT7 2JA

Tel: 028 90 819184 or
Ext: 37184



DECISION MAKING SERVICES
April 2012

				
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