In the midst of the scandal surrounding the uncovering of corruption at Nottingham City Homes (NCH), other important news regarding council housing in Nottingham has passed more quietly. Council house evictions for rent arrears rose by 42% in 2008 whilst Nottingham City Council (NCC) were found to be refusing around 60% of applications for Discretionary Housing Payments. Discretionary Housing Payments are meant to be used by Local Authorities to help those whose housing benefit doesn't cover their rent. Due to the underspend NCC's grant for such payments has been reduced for the 6th year in a row. In addition, the Council's Housing Benefit Decision Notices have been deemed "Inadequate and illegal" by one commentator.
Whilst corruption in NCH is old news to some of our readers, the revelation that the NCH disability forum has a BNP activist as its Vice Chair has come as a shock. The individual involed also claims to attend the NCH Black and Minority Ethnic forum.
Newswire: Nottingham Loses Out again | Housing Benefit Decision Notices Inadequate and Illegal | Big Underspend on Payments to help Poor Tenants | BNP member on NCH Disabled Person's panel | Squatting and the Sept 2nd raid on Nottingham City Homes offices
Discretionary housing payments
Nottingham City Council has consistently underspent its allocation for Discretionary Housing Payments, despite rent arrears evictions going through the roof.
If your housing benefit doesn't cover your rent you might be entitled to further help from the little promoted Discretionary Housing Payments scheme.
Yet despite underspending their allocation for every year the scheme has been in operation, NCC's Housing Benefits office refuses nearly 60% of applications. Meanwhile, evictions from rented properties went up by 42% last year, mostly for rent arrears.
Housing benefit notification letters
The standard Housing benefit notification letter used by Nottingham City Council misses vital information required by law.
The law requires that certain information, including details of appeal rights, is included in all decision notices sent to those who have applied for Housing and/or Council Tax Benefit.
However, Nottingham City Council's notices lack this info. They claim that it used to be provided on the back but 'recent amendments' have led to this gone missing. They claim that they have a system where a separate A4 sheet is added manually but none of those that I received included this.
However, a silver lining is that if you have received one of these notices without the required information and for one reason or another you missed your chance to appeal, the fact that the appeal details were left off should mean it is virtually automatic that a late appeal is accepted, as long as no more than 13 months have passed since the date of the decision.