Laura Sharman 09 January 2020

Housing benefit errors pushing families into homelessness, ombudsman warns

Housing benefit errors pushing families into homelessness, ombudsman warns image

Families are facing the prospect of becoming homeless due to the way some councils are handling housing benefit appeals, the ombudsman has warned today.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found poor practices at some councils leading to confusion and uncertainty for families.

It warned that in the more extreme cases, families have even become homeless because of errors with housing benefit payments.

The report highlighted examples of councils preventing families from challenging decisions about their housing benefit entitlement or trying to recover overpaid money before appeals have even been considered.

‘The cases we highlight in this report show the very real impact of what can happen when councils do not deliver housing benefit properly. Some of our most vulnerable families are refused a fair hearing by having their rights to appeal their council’s decision taken away,’ said Nigel Ellis, chief executive at the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said.

‘Although Universal Credit is being rolled out across the country, this is not happening as quickly as first anticipated; councils still need to ensure they administer housing benefits properly until the new system is in place in their area.’

In reponse, chair of the LGA’s Resources Board, Cllr Richard Watts, said: 'Councils and the Department for Work and Pensions have worked closely over recent years to reduce fraud and error. Councils also work hard to provide a range of support and advice to vulnerable households, in particular those affected by welfare reform.

'The funding that councils receive from government to administer housing benefit falls short of the true costs of administration. Councils have also faced considerable and ongoing pressures and uncertainty due to welfare reforms and changes to the timescales for implementing Universal Credit, which have stretched councils’ revenues and benefits services.'

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Compliance Analyst

Essex County Council
£29772 - £35027 per annum
Compliance AnalystPermanent, Full TimeUp to £35,027 per annumLocation
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Senior Database Administrator

Essex County Council
£42000 - £49422 per annum
Senior Database AdministratorPermanent, Full TimeUp to £49,422 per annumLocation
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Head of Air Quality Measurement

Imperial College London
£58,528 – £67,004
The Environmental Research Group (ERG), part of the School of Public Health at Imperial College London. Imperial College London, White City Campus, London W12 0BZ
Recuriter: Imperial College London

Childcare Lawyer

Brent Council
£43,860 - £49,827 p.a. inc.
We are looking for flexible individuals with good knowledge and experience in the   area of Children’s Social Care. Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Cycle Training and Project Coordinator

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£33.324 - £35.751
We need a passionate person to manage the Royal Borough’s cycle training programme and develop new cycle training projects. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue