Housing Benefit Service Level Agreement by iiy13066


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									Housing Benefit Landlord Liaison Services

Details of three different examples of are provided below:

Housing Benefit Example (i) Hartlepool HB Landlord Liaison Service
Initially the Hartlepool Private Landlords Housing Benefit Liaison Service was only
available to accredited landlords. Due to the success of the scheme however, it has
subsequently been extended and is now available to all private landlords and their

How the scheme works
At the point of making Housing Benefit claims, tenants are asked to sign a data
sharing agreement. This enables the team to discuss details of individuals’ claims
with landlords. For an example of Hartlepool’s Housing Benefit Information sharing
protocol see below.
 Example of a Housing Benefit Information Sharing Protocol from Hartlepool Private
 Landlords Project

 Sharing information with your landlord

 Sometimes, sharing information with your landlord helps us to deal with your claim quickly and
 reduces the risk of you falling behind with your rent because of your claim being delayed. We
 would only share information with your landlord if you;

           are a Housing Hartlepool tenant; or
           have agreed that you Housing Benefit can be paid directly to your landlord. But in either
            case, under the Data Protection Act we need your permission to share information. If you
            give us permission, we would be able to tell your landlord:
           whether or not you had claimed for Housing Benefit and, if so, whether we have made a
            decision on your claim or not; and
           if we need further information to make a decision on your claim, and if so, what
            information this is.

 There may be other information about your claim that we need to check with your landlord, such as
 the date your tenancy started, before we can make a decision on your claim. If this is the case, we
 have to ask your landlord even if you have not given us permission to discuss your claim with them.
 However, unless you have given us permission by signing the form, we will not discuss anything
 else                          with                          your                           landlord.

 We will not give your landlord information about:

           your personal or household circumstances or
           your financial circumstances.

 If you do not give us permission to discuss your claim with your landlord, it will not affect your
 claim. And if you give us permission but then change your mind, we will follow your wishes. Just
 contact               us               and              let              us                 know.
 If you want to give us permission to discuss your claim with your landlord, please sign below. I
 give Hartlepool Borough Council permission to share my information about the progress of
 my Housing Benefit claim with my landlord or their representative

The service is staffed by two specially trained dedicated officers who work within
Housing Benefit to deliver an individual case work service to private landlords and
their tenants. Landlords and/or private tenants can access the service in a number of
different ways including via a dedicated telephone help line.

The service provides:

          Benefit take up and welfare right advice
          Outreach provision to tenants
          Assistance in investigating the process of claims
          A problem solving service

The scheme is felt to act as a very positive incentive to encourage closer partnership
work between private landlords and the local authority. For further information about
the     Hartlepool       Landlord      Liaison       Service      please      contact:

Housing Benefit Example (ii)
Salford Private Rented Project - Housing Benefit Service Level Agreement
Salford Private Rented Project has also pioneered the development of closer
relationships between private landlords and the local authority through the use of
Service Level Agreements with Housing Benefit.

How the scheme works
The service is available to all accredited landlords. On becoming accredited,
landlords are provided with a pack of information on the way Housing Benefit claims
are dealt, with including clear guidelines on the process of making a claim and the
agreed timescales for processing claims. Accredited landlords are also provided with
a book of ‘accreditation stickers’ to pass on to their tenants when making a Housing
Benefit claim. The stickers are attached to the claim so that claims made by tenants
of accredited landlords can be easily identified.

The scheme provides both a responsive service to landlords seeking information
about the status of an individual claim but also takes proactive action. This informs
individual landlords when direct payments of Housing Benefit are due to cease.
Information is provided as to what action must be taken to ensure that direct
payments continue.

The scheme offers landlords access to a number of different support services to help
deal with individual queries including the following:

      A dedicated telephone help line which landlords can access to find out if a
       claim is current or not;
      Email contact whereby landlords can ask for information on the stage reached
       in processing individual claims;
      Drop in surgery sessions run by Housing Benefit officers at different locations
       through out the city;
      Further officers from the HB section attend the private rented project working
       groups and the landlord forum and are accessible for landlords to discuss
       individual claims.

Further information about this service can be obtained from:

Housing Benefit Example (iii) Bolton Housing Benefits Landlord Liaison

Bolton Private Landlord Liaison Project is one of a number of new initiatives currently
being developed by Bolton Council Housing Benefits Service including investment in
training, quality checking and visiting staff. It is designed to improve the speed,
accuracy and take-up of the service and make the processing of claims as
straightforward as possible for all involved.

Funding to support the Landlord Liaison Project has been obtained from the
government’s Performance Standards Fund, to develop a private Landlord’s Liaison
Project. The service is in the process of being developed with the aims of:

      providing a focal point within the Benefits Service for landlords involved in the
       accreditation scheme
      working together with landlords in the task group to identify solutions to
       problems experienced by tenants and landlords in the claim process
      providing tailored training for landlords on Benefits matters
      contributing to B.A.R.L.O events to provide in-person advice on Benefits
      producing information and material directly relevant to landlords such as
       Information Packs and website content

If you would like further information about this initiative contact
Julianne Lacy of the Bolton Private Landlord Project Team on Tel 01204 335486

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