Benefit claims soar in foot and mouth crisis
Verification requirements for housing benefit are being eased in the wake of the foot and mouth crisis.
The government relaxation comes in response to requests from local authorities across the country which have received far larger numbers of claims for housing benefit and council tax benefit as the outbreak forces businesses to lay off staff.
The new rules are most likely to affect those working in industries such as tourism, rather than the farmers themselves who tend to be owner-occupiers. Farm workers are also expected to be among the target group.
Chartered Institute of Housing policy officer Sam Lister warned that the extra claims could place significant stresses on the affected authorities.
‘It could be a problem because it's happening in smaller rural authorities where the caseload is not that big traditionally. If you're small with a minimum number of staff and there's suddenly a big change in volume it could be difficult to cope,' he said.
The new housing benefit and council tax benefit circular HB/CTB A13/2001 is directed at verification framework compliant authorities and deals with claims referred to as ‘temporarily laid off from work' and also applies to those put on short-time working.
For the duration of the outbreak these cases will only need to confirm identity, proof of employment and wages.
30 March, 2001 for more