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Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 33891
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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My question is about housing benefit, administered by the

Customer Question

Good afternoon,
My question is about housing benefit, administered by the local council.
I've been drawing housing benefit for five and a half years, and it's important to me. Five years ago I received an insurance payment for some jewellery that had gone missing while I was in hospital. This sum took me well over the limit for drawing housing benefit (the limit is abut £16,000) so I phoned the Council and asked if I had to declare it as capital - after all, it would no longer count as 'capital' were I to replace the jewellery. The woman at the Council said No, I wouldn't have to declare it.
I've kept the money in a deposit account because I haven't yet seen a comparable piece of jewellery (it was specially made for me, overseas). The Inland Revenue, as a matter of course, told the Council that I'd been getting interest on a bank account and the Council want to see my bank statements.
Obviously I have to show my bank statements. My questions are:
1. Can they demand that I repay the housing benefit I've received so far?
2. Can they stop my housing benefit from now onwards?
3. Do I face any other kind of penalty?
4. What would be the position if I were to replace the jewellery - could they force me to sell it, would I be acting in bad faith?
It doesn't seem fair to count an insurance payment as 'capital,' especially as it's meant to be spent on a replacement.
Thank you
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 6 months ago.

Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you.

Just to be clear you had this payment over 5 years ago?

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Five years and one month - i.e. received the payment in September 2011. I'd been in receipt of Housing Benefit since the beginning of 2011 (give or take a month).
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Five years and one month - ie. received the insurance payment in September 2011. I'd been receiving Housing Benefit since some time in 2010
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 6 months ago.

I am not clear why you have Waited over 5 years? What steps have you been taking to replace it? How often do you look?

Did you get it in writing that it would not affect your benefit?

Expert:  Clare replied 6 months ago.

My name is ***** ***** I have been a solicitor for more than 30 years.

I am afraid that you misunderstood what you were told.

Had you acted immediately and replaced the item then there would have been no problem.

However I am afraid that the delay is fatal.

To deal with your points in order

1. Yes I am afraid so

2. Yes

3. Unlikely given the fact that you had actually told them about it at the time

4. You would still have to repay the past benefit - but you can the make a new claim ongoing

Please ask if you need further details

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I can't see how the delay is relevant. I didn't replace the item immediately because the item or jewellery was very special - it had been designed specially for me (by some people I worked with overseas). I couldn't replace it immediately because it was a very specialist item, not something from the jeweller down the road. Plus I'd been quite ill for some time afterwards. What I've been hoping to do is go back to the overseas people who gave it to me and see about getting a replacement, which I'm hoping to do next year. So I'm afraid that I still don't understand - can you help?
Expert:  Clare replied 6 months ago.

I am sorry but the delay is relevant because you did not actually spend the money immediately.

Since you did not spend it immediately it became capital savings - that is how the Local Council will view it.

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