Good morning

In one of my earlier bulletins, I explain how some single claimants, under 35, living in private sector accommodation, qualify for the 1-bed rate of Local Housing Allowance (LHA).

With effect from 1st October 2022 the list of exemptions from the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR) has been extended to include victims of domestic abuse and modern slavery.

The SAR of the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) ordinarily applies to both Housing Benefit (HB) and Universal Credit claimants under 35, living alone and renting privately. The SAR is based on the cost of renting a room in shared accommodation. Those claimants that fall under any one of the excepted groups, qualify instead for the 1-bed rate, which is generally around 40% higher than the SAR. In the Greater London area, the 1-bed rate is more than double the SAR and has greatly benefited HMO landlords operating in that area.

Domestic abuse exemption

Claimants will need written evidence from a person acting in an ‘official capacity’ confirming their circumstances are consistent with those of a person who has had domestic violence or abuse inflicted, or threatened, upon them, from the age of 16.

  1. A ‘person acting in an official capacity’ is defined as:
  • a health care professional
  • a police officer
  • a registered social worker
  • the claimant’s employer
  • any public, voluntary, or charitable body which has had direct contact with the claimant in connection with domestic violence

Modern slavery exemption

The exemption applies to confirmed victims of modern slavery with a positive ‘Conclusive Grounds’ decision from the relevant Competent Authority at the Home Office.

The Home Office issues the decision letter to the adult concerned or through their appointed representative, where applicable. Duplicates of this decision can be requested if needed from the relevant Home Office Competent Authority, including:

Time Limits for claiming exemption?

Effectively there are no time limits for qualifying individuals. To qualify for the domestic abuse exemption, the abuse could have happened some time before they apply for the exemption. For example, if the abuse happened at age 20 the individual can still claim the exemption up until age 35.

Similarly, for the modern slavery exemption, a person can claim the exemption at any point after they receive a positive ‘Conclusive Grounds’ decision until they turn 35 years old. The positive Conclusive Grounds decision could have been received at any age.

How does one apply for exemption

It’s up to the claimant to demonstrate they qualify. The exemption itself can be applied from when the decision maker becomes aware the claimant meets the qualifying criteria. In most cases this will be when the claimant self-identifies with their local authority or DWP.

Do the new rules apply equally to both Housing Benefit and Universal Credit?

When assessing a claimant under HB rules, the individual only qualifies for the 1-bed rate if they’re living in self-contained accommodation. Whereas under UC, it makes no difference whether they reside in shared or self-contained property, the 1-be rate applies. Another example of UC being more generous than HB.

Relevant Legislation

The legislation that introduced the change can be found here: “The Housing Benefit and Universal Credit (Victims of Domestic Abuse and Victims of Modern Slavery) (Amendment) Regulations 2022 (SI 2022/942) and came into force on 1 October 2022.

Bill Irvine

UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd

Tel: 07733 080 389