Customers will be made aware of the court procedures and costs. They will be given the opportunity to make an arrangement to pay their current rent and an amount off the arrears. They will be advised what the Council intends to request at court e.g. a suspended possession order or adjournment. The implications of not keeping to the arrangement will be clearly explained.
They will be advised that they can seek independent advice and representation at the court hearing and a list of agencies and solicitors that can assist will be available if requested. The list will be the agencies and solicitors awarded a Quality Mark for specialist advice in the housing and/or debt field, by the Legal Services Commission.
If the customer is in receipt of Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance (Income Based) and they are receiving full Housing Benefit the standard deduction amount (currently £2.85) will be requested as the amount payable each week off the arrears. This will also be the case for people on low incomes who receive full Housing Benefit.
If the arrears continue to increase and no contact is received from the customer, attempts will be made to contact the customer by home visit, telephone and letter before considering applying for an eviction warrant.
If the customer is still receiving Housing Benefit then recovery from ongoing benefit will be the preferred method of recovery.
Deductions will be made at the following rates:
£6.50 per week for all Income Support/Job Seekers Allowance (income
based)/Pension Credit Guarantee cases.
£8.55 per week for all standard cases (pus up to 50% of earnings
disregard, charitable or voluntary payments, war or war widows
£11.20 per week for ALL overpayments that have been classified as
fraud and the customer
has been prosecuted and found guilty, or
admitted dishonestly in an interview under caution, or
agreed to accept an administrative penalty.
These figures will be up-rated annually in April in line with increases in the up-rating circular.
Weekly benefit payable should not be reduced to less than 50p per week.
The amount set to recover from the customer’s entitlement would be deducted no sooner than 4 weeks from the present benefit week.