From the grapevine

Welfare Rights: Gary Vaux provides some benefits news that you and your clients may not have heard about yet

  • The Court of Appeal has recently considered the question of entitlement to housing benefit for people who go into residential care temporarily but who then become permanent residents. Many housing benefit sections take the view that when the person decides to become “permanent” they can no longer receive housing benefit on their previous home, even though there might be as much as a month’s rent still due during the notice-to-quit period.

    The court ruled that the claimant in this test case was entitled to housing benefit until the end of the notice to quit.
  • One of the groups who consistently fail to claim disability living allowance (DLA) is children and young people with autistic spectrum disorders. The National Autistic Society has produced a guide, Claiming Disability Living Allowance, which will be a great help for social work and medical professionals and parents.
  • It is now possible to claim DLA and attendance allowance online through the Government Gateway Account. Go to  and click on the “Launch services and benefits online” button. New users have to register. Once that is done, claiming DLA and attendance allowance online is fairly straightforward.

    The advantages are threefold. First, the claimant receives six weeks to complete the pack – no waiting for it to be posted out or posting back several days before the deadline. Second, the application can be saved both online and on the service user’s or adviser’s own computer. No more lost packs! Last, by sharing the online version with their adviser or social worker before sending it off, the claimant can receive “expert” help on completing the pack without travelling to an advice agency or having a home visit.
  • The rules on what happens to benefits when you go into hospital have been changed – and for the better on the whole. Most people will now keep their benefits in full, no matter how long they are in hospital. But there is still a downside, as adults still lose their DLA and attendance allowance after just four weeks.
    Take, for example, a single man who was receiving income support on top of his incapacity benefit. The income support included the extra premium from DLA Care. He also had full housing benefit. When he was admitted to hospital, he
    lost his DLA after four weeks and, therefore, his income support as well. This left him just on incapacity benefit, which was now above the recalculated income support level – so he lost his full housing benefit too and had to pay something towards his rent.
  • And if you thought working in the social care sector was bad, a recent survey by Department of Work and Pensions management into staff attitudes found that 90 per cent of DWP staff lack confidence in their senior managers.

    Half of the respondents said they had insufficient training to enable them to do their job confidently. Some 45 per cent said they intended not to be working for the DWP in 12 months’ time.

    Gary Vaux is head of money advice, Hertfordshire Council. He is unable to answer queries by post or telephone. If you have a question to be answered please write to him c/o Community Care

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