Guidance

Housing Benefit information, guidance and good practice for local authority staff

This information is for local authority staff who process claims and administer Housing Benefit, including Local Housing Allowance.

Introduction

This information, guidance and good practice is for local authority staff who process claims and administer Housing Benefit, including Local Housing Allowance. It helps them deliver efficient and effective Housing Benefit services.

Housing Benefit delivery information, guidance and support

Housing Benefit Manual – this manual is for the administration of the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit schemes by local authorities and housing authorities in Great Britain

Additional individual DWP guidance and good practice publications – Housing Benefit individual guides and good practice

Housing Benefit adjudication circulars – adjudication circulars (‘A’) circulars provide updates to the Housing Benefit guidance manual for local authority staff

Housing Benefit subsidy circulars – subsidy (‘S’) circulars provide information about the money the government pays local authorities to administer Housing Benefit and other financial matters

Urgent and General information bulletins – Housing Benefit general information bulletins provide general information, updates and reminders on Housing Benefit and other areas of DWP to local authority staff

HB Direct newsletter – the HB Direct newsletter provides the latest information and updates on policy changes, good practice and initiatives that impact on Housing Benefit

Right Benefit Initiative (RBI) – the RBI provides financial support to ensure local authorities are resourced to action Optional Real Time Information (RTI) referrals in 2017/18 to reduce Housing Benefit fraud and error.

Housing Benefit expenditure and subsidy data – the data tables show the local authority expenditure and subsidy of HB for England, Scotland and Wales

DWP and local authority consultation groups – these are the forums for DWP and local authorities to discuss strategic issues relating to Housing Benefit and local authority funding

Other information for local authorities

Removal of the spare room subsidy – this toolkit is for local authorities, housing providers and support organisations in the social rented sector, and provides information on the removal of the spare room subsidy

Universal Credit for local authorities – this collection brings together documents, information and updates about Universal Credit for local authority staff

Local Housing Allowance – the Local Housing Allowance arrangements apply to people who rent from private landlords

Fraud and error – loss of benefit penalty regime – this series brings together information for local authority staff relating to fraud and error and the Loss of Benefit penalty regime

Housing Benefit statistics

Housing Benefit statistics are published regularly. Information is available about:

Housing information in The National Archives

This housing information has been archived, but is still available to you in The National Archives:

Performance Development Team support

The Performance Development Team (PDT) is comprised of performance specialists and works with individual and groups of local authorities to help them become more efficient and improve performance.

The team’s help is paid for by DWP but local authorities have to invest the time and resources needed to achieve improvements. Local authorities are responsible for delivering improvement plans. In return for our investment, the PDT simply asks that authorities keep DWP informed of progress so that it can be sure improvements in the delivery of public services are realised.

The PDT is available to assist local authorities in areas such as:

  • working with councils to eliminate delay and duplication from their processes and increase their effectiveness and efficiency using, for example, Lean principles and reducing the time taken to obtain information in support of a claim
  • helping councils explore the feasibility of sharing Housing Benefit services to generate economies and efficiencies
  • assisting councils that want to improve their management of Housing Benefit overpayments so that loss is minimised through more efficient and effective prevention and recovery action
  • making best use of fraud resources
  • reducing backlogs in preparation for migration to Universal Credit
  • developing partnerships with groups or individual councils to help them plan, implement and manage specific projects

If you would like more information please email: hdd.pdtconsultants@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

Local Authority Data Share (LADS) Delivery Team

The LADS Delivery team are part of the Housing Delivery Division Change Programme, responsible for the delivery of IT and strategic data sharing initiatives, from DWP to local authorities. Automated Transfers to Local Authority Systems (ATLAS) has already increased the amount of information that can be sent automatically to local authorities in a format that allows direct loading into their systems.

The first phase of ATLAS was successfully rolled out to all authorities on 4 July 2011, providing HM Revenue & Customs with tax credits award data.

The second phase extended ATLAS to deliver notifications for a range of DWP benefits in 2012, with Personal Independence Payment and benefit cap notifications starting in 2013. Other initiatives to help local authorities address fraud and error include the implementation of Real Time Information data for earnings and occupational pensions.

DWP have continued to build on the ATLAS IT infrastructure to deliver even more citizen data to local authorities, plus introducing new strategic data sharing routes through the new DWP Data Hub.

We have now started to share data on behalf of Universal Credit (both live and full services) in order to support Council Tax Reduction schemes and continue to build on this. Plus we have delivered the ability for local authorities to make debt recoveries from Universal Credit, as well as seeking to reduce the administrative burden on local authorities by reviewing current data sharing arrangements and ensuring new data is made available to support changes in legislation.

There is more information for local authorities in the ATLAS Awareness Pack, available on the ‘local authority data share (all LAs) workspace’ on Glasscubes, as well as other guidance and good practice, especially that relating to ‘batch processing’ and ‘automation advice’.

Glasscubes

Glasscubes is an online communication tool to share documents about local authority data sharing in a single, secure location. You can find the information in the ‘local authority data share (all LAs) workspace’. Glasscubes replaces Huddle.

Glasscubes also provides a forum to start and join in discussions between local authorities, DWP and local authority IT suppliers.

Request access to Glasscubes by sending your individual secure (GSX/GCSX/GSE) or standard email address to – la-sst.hdd@dwp.gsi.gov.uk. Do not use a team email address.

Council Tax Benefit references

Publications may include references to Council Tax Benefit as this benefit was provided by local authorities alongside Housing Benefit through to March 2013.

In April 2013 Council Tax Benefit was replaced by local authorities’ own council tax support and reduction schemes, removing DWP’s involvement.

DWP guidance does not cover these local schemes.

Readers will need to consider references to Council Tax Benefit in the light of this information as it is not possible or appropriate to remove or amend all the references.

Published 17 October 2013