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Housing Benefit with ESA help!

My partner has been in receipt of ESA (income related with EDP) for 11 years and has previously had housing benefit when living with her ex.

She moved back in with her grandparents over 2 years ago after they split up.  They told her they would give her a year to get herself straight, clear some debts her ex started (she was the victim of financial abuse), etc.  

It has been well over a year and as we await a PIP tribunal (10 months and waiting) her grandparents have said to her that they are struggling without more money, as her conditions require lots of water, heating, and electricity use, as well as a special diet, and so on.

She wants to make a claim for housing benefit to be able to give to them, which will solve so many problems.

Two things:

1. If she draws up a tenancy agreement now, will they accept that as proof she has started paying them rent/board and lodge, when she applies shortly?

2. It says on her local council website that housing benefit has been replaced by Universal Credit but she does not want to go that route as she is terrified of losing her ESA and being refused Universal Credit.  She gets PIP daily living at standard rate, if this helps.

Thanks.
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Comments

  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 28,462 Disability Gamechanger
    edited July 2019
    Hi,

    She won't be able to claim housing benefit because all areas are now a full UC area. I do believe from previous threads that she's not entitled to severe disability premium in with her ESA because she's living with her grandparents. Which means for her to be entitled to this her grandparents would both need to be claiming a qualifying benefit such as DLA mid/high rate care, PIP daily living or Attendance Allowance. As she's not claiming SDP then she can't claim housing benefit.

    How has she been paying for rent in the past or has she been living there rent free at anytime at all? If she has been living there rent free then this will cause problems when trying to claim for help with rent through UC.

    This is extremely complicated and not really something anyone can help with on an internet forum. Your partner needs to get some expert face to face advice before proceeding any further.


  • PIPnewbie
    PIPnewbie Member Posts: 298 Pioneering
    @poppy123456

    Hi again Poppy.

    She has been living rent free as they were kind enough to let her live there a year, but it has now become a struggle and they need money from her.  Why will this cause problems?  Her grandparents can no longer afford to keep her rent free.
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 28,462 Disability Gamechanger
    It is possible to claim for help with rent when living with family members as her grandparents are not classed as close relatives but it will be extremely difficult.

    She will need to prove that it's a commercial arrangement rather than an informal family arrangement and this will be extremely difficult to do because she's been living there all this time rent free.

    As she won't be able to claim for housing benefit, it will have to be UC for the housing element and then her ESA will transfer across to this. She really does need to get expert face to face advice before claiming UC. It will very likely go to a decision maker and It could very likely be a long process.
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 28,462 Disability Gamechanger
    A couple more questions. Do the grandparents claim housing benefit theirself?

    If so, you say that she moved back there 2 years ago, did she previously live there before this?


  • PIPnewbie
    PIPnewbie Member Posts: 298 Pioneering
    @poppy123456

    She lived there from 15 to like 19 I think, then was with her ex from 19 to 25 I believe.

    She asked this in a Facebook group and everyone seems to think it is easy and she should have no trouble, some even saying they were in a similar situation.

    Also, with the transfer from ESA to UC, which is being rolled out in her area until 2023 anyway, is there a risk she could lose it all?

    She said she was successful with ESA 11 years ago because she met the descriptor for being incontinent weekly, but with UC the requirement has relaxed and its once per month.

    She is actually incontinent 3-5 times a week, as she has had severe Crohn’s and a doctor was negligent with a gastroscope last year which has ruined her back passage, so she’s now more incontinent than ever and has letters proving it.
  • PIPnewbie
    PIPnewbie Member Posts: 298 Pioneering
    @poppy123456

    I’m very sorry but I missed one of your questions.

    No, her grandparents are private home owners and mortgage free.

    Another thing, why will the UC go to a decision maker?  According to this website, anyone who is in receipt of the Support Group ESA will not have to take the Work Capability Assessment.  Is this true?

    https://www.mind.org.uk/about-us/our-policy-work/benefits/where-you-can-find-help/moving-from-esa-to-universal-credit-faqs/

  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 28,462 Disability Gamechanger
    Yes, yet another facebook story where the advice isn't quite right, i'm afraid. I really wouldn't rely on the stories and the advice you've been given on there.

    My advice above is correct. She will need to prove that it's a commercial arrangement rather than an informal family arrangement and this will be extremely difficult to do because she's been living there all this time rent free.

    If she claims UC then her ESA award will transfer across. If she claims UC then she will be assessed again at some point, the same as she will be re-assessed again on ESA.

    It will go to a decision maker for UC because of the housing element and not anything else. A decision maker will decide if she can be paid the housing element or not. Which is why i said she needs to get face to face advice because of the complicated situation. This really isn't a question for a forum or facebook. Remember she's been living there for all this time rent free and now suddenly she want's to claim help for rent which she hasn't been paying and they will definitely ask questions about that.



  • PIPnewbie
    PIPnewbie Member Posts: 298 Pioneering
    @poppy123456

    Thanks for the help.

    Am I correct that, even if she does not get help for housing, she will get slightly more money for Limited Capability for Work and Work Related Activity under Universal Credit than she does for ESA Support Group?
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 28,462 Disability Gamechanger
    No problem. Yes, when worked out on paper there's slightly more money but if she can't claim for help with the rent does she really want to move across? It's a complete nightmare and her ESA award will most likely not be transferred across straight away because it rarely happens. She will be asked for fit/sick notes to start with until her ESA award has been transferred across and she most likely won't receive the LCWRA element in her first payment.

    In all honesty if it was me and the housing element couldn't be claimed then i'd leave UC well alone but that's my opinion. Please do get some expert face to face advice.
  • PIPnewbie
    PIPnewbie Member Posts: 298 Pioneering
    @poppy123456

    It seems like you're saying it's futile even trying for rent.  I do not understand why the DWP have a problem with this.  People's situations change, and her grandparents' private pension ran out, leaving them just on state pension now, hence charging her rent as they cannot maintain their home so charging her rent is a must.

    Not only that, the reason she was rent free is they gave her a year after splitting with her ex in September 2017, but it has been well over a  year now, and unless she can give more, they just cannot keep her.
  • PIPnewbie
    PIPnewbie Member Posts: 298 Pioneering
    @poppy123456

    I'm on the phone to her now.  She said she is going to ask for help at the Job Centre.  Is this expert face to face?
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 28,462 Disability Gamechanger
    Asking for help at the job centre is not expert advice!

    It could be a problem because she's been living there rent free and they will want to know if it's a commercial arrangement and not an informal family arrangement. They will consider whether or not it's a contrived tenancy.

    Her grandparents should also have a benefits check at an advice centre near them. They maybe entitled to pension credit to top up their income.
  • PIPnewbie
    PIPnewbie Member Posts: 298 Pioneering
    @poppy123456

    Can they not backdate a tenancy agreement and sign it, but claim she has not actually paid the rent owed over the past year, etc. so she is in debt to them for £1,000's?
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 28,462 Disability Gamechanger
    That is not advisable and could be seen as benefit fraud.
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 28,462 Disability Gamechanger
    Doing this they will want to know why she hasn't claimed for help with the rent in the past, why her grandparents are allowing her to live there rent free for all this time without doing something about it. This could potentially lead to a very difficult situation and i really wouldn't advise them to do that.
  • PIPnewbie
    PIPnewbie Member Posts: 298 Pioneering
    @poppy123456

    Yeah, that's probably not worth the risk.  It's just the situation is genuine.  The money is needed.

    What would you consider expert advice if Job Centre is not?  Citizens Advice?
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 28,462 Disability Gamechanger
    I'm not saying it's not genuine but this situation is complicated and even more so because she's been living there rent free for all this time.

    CAB, welfare rights or a law centre. Check this link to see what's available in her area. https://advicelocal.uk/

  • PIPnewbie
    PIPnewbie Member Posts: 298 Pioneering
    @poppy123456

    No I know you didn't say that, I was just venting, sorry.

    And so Citizens Advice Bureau it is!  Thanks!
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 28,462 Disability Gamechanger
    No problem. Let me know the outcome, i'll be very interested to know. Good luck.
  • PIPnewbie
    PIPnewbie Member Posts: 298 Pioneering
    Thanks @poppy123456

    Same as I will let you know the PIP outcome... if the tribunal ever arrives.

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