Nobody wants to see tenants going into arrears.
But often, people who rely on Housing Benefit end up with arrears problems through simple failures to give us information we need.
Last financial year, over 800 Housing Benefit applications were refused in Sandwell because tenants failed to provide something we needed and many more claims were delayed or had gaps in entitlement because essential information was either provided late or incomplete
Our application form tells claimants what we need and if something is missing when a form comes in, we contact the claimant to let them know.
If it’s still not provided, we’ll send a reminder and at any point in the process, if someone isn’t sure, they can talk to us. Nonetheless, many people still end up losing benefits when we don’t receive what we require.
This isn’t something we want. Apart from the fact that we have no desire to see people in unnecessary difficulties, refusing claims often creates more work for us, as extra enquiries and forms are generated.
Not only that, but we are a major landlord ourselves and this problem affects our tenants as much as private sector tenants. Although we don’t like having to refuse people benefit, we have to work to certain standards and deadlines. Not only do we have to comply with Department of Work and Pension rules but also, if we didn’t, it would simply become impossible to administer the benefits system.
It’s not realistic to use a short blog post to try and work out why these problems occur and there are no failsafe solutions.
But it is worth reminding people that very often, the sorts of arrears problems our claimants can have are either avoidable, or can at least be limited, if claimants keep in contact with us and make sure we have the information we need at all stages of their claims.