Housing Benefit Subsidy


(A Workshop Available For In-House Bookings Only.) 

This Workshop provides a thorough analysis of all the subsidy-critical parts of the Housing Benefit Scheme, including looking at the correct subsidy classification of unusual tenures and issues with overpayments. The course will also help delegates to avoid making some common mistakes that can result in the Council losing subsidy unnecessarily. It will be suitable for HB assessment staff seeking an awareness of how day-to-day processing can help to maximise subsidy, as well as subsidy officers preparing for and dealing with questions from external auditors.

For most Housing Benefit practitioners, ‘subsidy’ is not something that they have frequent cause to think about. Therefore, they might not realise how their actions can have far-reaching consequences for their authority’s financial position. This Workshop aims to provide an awareness of the subsidy-critical aspects of HB processing, including:

The importance of recording the reasons for action taken, especially where an element of judgement or discretion is required:

  • For example, the period over which earnings are averaged; whether a claimant has made a case for a bedroom to be allowed for an overnight carer; whether a claim should be backdated, etc.

Ensuring that system fields used for subsidy purposes are completed properly, even if they do not appear to affect the amount of HB awarded. For example:

  •  Maximising subsidy for overpayments by making correct classification and making sure that underlying entitlement is applied whenever possible. 
  • Eligible rent across different sectors, including temporary homeless accommodation and housing association tenancies, especially supported accommodation provided by a registered Housing Association. 

We will look at HB subsidy is claimed, how external auditors check that the right amount of subsidy is being claimed, and the different rates of subsidy allowed for different categories of expenditure. We also look in depth at the different treatment of rebates and allowances, highlighting areas that frequently cause confusion and relate in errors on the subsidy claim. For example, what happens when a local authority discharges its homelessness duty by referring a person to a supported accommodation scheme? What if another local authority places a homeless family in your area? Which cases still require regular referral to the Rent Officer, and what are the consequences if the Council fails to refer when it should? 

We will pay particular attention to Overpayments, looking at the correct way to classify them and how to ensure that overpayments are not over-identified by failing to apply “underlying entitlement” where it should be applied. 

We will also look at some other issues frequently commented on by external auditors, including how to deal with fluctuating earnings and how to reconcile HMRC “real time” data matching with what the HB Regulations say.

Whether you are an assessor hoping to understand more about the effect your actions have on subsidy, or a subsidy officer checking cases that auditors have selected for sampling, this course will help your Council to avoid making common errors in the first place and equip you with the knowledge to defend your Council when auditors question something on a sampled case. 

Presented by Andy Thurman - a well-known and acknowledged expert on this topic for many years.


Programme Timetable

 9.30    Arrivals and coffee/tea

 9.45    Introductions and course overview 

11.15    Coffee/tea break    

 1:00    Lunch break    

 3.15    Tea/coffee break    

 4.30    Workshop ends