Welcome to this month’s pick of the blogs.
This month my favourite read was by Giles Peaker from Nearly Legal.
The article provides an overview of the case of Samuels v Birmingham City Council. In this case Ms Samuels was evicted following rent arrears. The rent arrears had accrued because Ms Samuels couldn’t afford to make up the shortfall between the rent due and the Housing Benefit award. Following eviction, Birmingham City Council found Ms Samuels intentionally homeless. They argued that there was enough flexibility in her benefit income to make up the shortfall.
This case has brought some much-needed clarity to the position of reasonable expenses when considering a finding of intentional homelessness. Which debt adviser amongst us hasn’t had an employee of the local authority dissecting a financial statement for someone on benefits (and in one of my cases, that the disabled client should sell their TV; because a TV is a privilege.)
The case has confirmed that the assessment of reasonable living expenses must be made on an objective basis, and subsistence benefit levels are a reasonable objective baseline for this assessment.
Read the full article here: https://nearlylegal.co.uk/2019/06/reasonable-expenses-and-intentional-homelessness/
In other blogs:
A fascinating piece written by Andy McCarthy of Z2K examines the level of information provided to claimants about the reasons for the decision of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in Work Capability Assessments (WCA). As any adviser knows, the reasons for a decision will form the basis for any appeal. If you don’t know the reasons why a claim has been determined and rejected, you cannot possibly hope to successfully draft a challenge.
Following a Freedom of Information request to the DWP, Z2K argue that the level of information supplied to claimants about how the WCA has been carried out, and what factors have been considered, has been deliberately and substantially reduced for Universal Credit claimants.
Andy McCarthy explains that if the intended purpose of UC is to ease the claimant into working by building their skills without harming their health; how can a work coach make reasonable adjustments without access to more detailed information?
Finally, it was interesting to read that one of the main reasons for Government’s lack of effective progress in tackling poverty, has been because there has been no consensus in how to measure poverty. Hetan Shah writes a guest blog for the Money Advice Trust and explains that a measure of poverty proposed by the Social Metrics Commission has now been agreed by Government. The blog explains what the Social Metrics Commission is and the work that it has been doing. It is hoped that the adoption of this new measure means that there will be better information on the types of people that are poor and identify those in greatest need; this should lead to more appropriate systems of intervention.
Have you read any good blogs recently? Let us know in our discussion forum. More blogs next month.
In other news
Thanks to all those IMA conference delegates that attended my workshop highlighting the resources available via the NIS area of the IMA website. I hope that you have now had a chance to have a look through the site in your own time.
New resources now available include Shelter’s Spotlight article; this month focusing on Charging Orders and whether an adviser should seek to attach conditions. There is also a new confirmation of advice letter template from the Money and Pensions Service.